Tim Sheppard claimed his second straight CDGA Senior Amateur Championship with a 4-and-3 victory over John Vernasco Thursday at Merit Club
19th CDGA Senior Amateur Championship June 7-10 • Merit Club (Libertyville)
Day Four: Thursday, June 10
SHEPPARD REMAINS ATOP CDGA SENIOR AMATEUR CIRCUIT
LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. – Since his runner-up finish in the 2016 CDGA Senior Amateur Championship at The Club at Wynstone, the first CDGA-administered senior event he was eligible for following his 55th birthday, Tim Sheppard (East Peoria / Pekin CC) has asserted his dominance by emerging victorious in seven of the 13 events he has participated in.
“When I got a taste of [senior events] at Wystone and lost in the Finals that year, it left a bad taste in my mouth,” Sheppard said regarding his success. “... I don't know if I expected that I would've won this much, but it sure has been fun doing it.”
Sheppard, who entered the 19th CDGA Senior Am possessing each of the three CDGA-administered senior championship titles, retained the glory with a 4-and-3 win over John Vernasco (Libertyville / Merit Club) Thursday morning.
SHEPPARD, VERNASCO SET TO SQUARE OFF IN 19TH CDGA SENIOR AMATEUR FINAL
LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. - Defending champion and 2019 CDGA Senior Player of the Year Tim Sheppard (East Peoria / Pekin CC) is set to square off against Merit Club member John Vernasco (Libertyville / Merit Club) for a chance to hoist the Charles Morgan Auld Cup following Semifinal victories in the 19th CDGA Senior Amateur Championship on Wednesday at Merit Club.
Sheppard, who has reached at least the Semifinal round in each edition of the event since it last visited Merit Club in 2015, found himself in a Semifinal sudden-death playoff for the second consecutive playing of the CDGA Senior Amateur after battling back from a 3-down deficit to Dave Ryan (Taylorville / Illini CC) with seven holes to play. Wth birdies on holes 12, 13, 15 and 17, Sheppard forced the playoff, where he prevailed with yet another circle on the scorecard at the par-5 third hole.
“The key to this is to try and make some birdies,” Sheppard stated following the match. “Par is always a good score, but in match play if you can make four or five birdies, you're going to find yourself in a good position.”
Vernasco, a six-year member of the Libertyville-based club, used local knowledge to his advantage en route to punching his ticket into Thursday morning's Final. After winning the par-3 second hole with a par, Vernasco held his early lead until Mark Small (Frankfort / The Sanctuary GC) took advantage of a pair of bogeys on Nos. 6 and 7 by the 60-year-old Vernasco. A quick bounce-back birdie at No. 9 saw the match tied at the turn. Vernasco's final bogey of the day came at No. 10 before riding a 1-under-par close to win the match 1 up.
“It helps a lot,” Vernasco said when asked about his vast course knowledge following his round. “There are spots that you don't want to be in, and that you want to be in, and there are a lot of times where you're hitting a club less, or club more, just to get it in the right position.”
With this being Sheppard's first time visiting Merit Club, the duo, and their differing knowledge of the track, will return to action Thursday with the title on the line. The Final match is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.
Day Two: Tuesday, June 8
FOUR SENIORS REMAIN IN CONTENTION AT MERIT CLUB
LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. - Two past champions, a former Illinois State Amateur winner and a member of the host club comprise the Semifinals of the 19th CDGA Senior Amateur Championship following Tuesday's two rounds of matches at Merit Club.
Defending champion Tim Sheppard (East Peoria / Pekin CC), playing as the second seed, scraped by Jim Keefe (Lemont / Mistwood GC) in the Round of 16. His Quarterfinal match featured much less drama, as he won the first four holes en route to an 8-and-7 triumph over Mike Mcloone (Arlington Heights / Chicago Golf Club).
Awaiting Sheppard in the Semifinals is legendary senior amateur Dave Ryan (Taylorville / Illini CC). Ryan, who won this event the last time it was contested at Merit Club in 2015, defeated Bradley Metzger (Park Ridge / Butler National GC) 4 and 3 in the Round of 16 before topping Mark Roche (Forest Park / Oak Brook GC) in the Quarterfinals, 7 and 6.
The Sheppard/Ryan heavyweight Semifinal tilt will feature a combined three CDGA Senior Amateur titles, six Illinois State Senior Amateur victories and nine CDGA Senior Player of the Year awards.
On the top half of the bracket, Mark Small (Frankfort / The Sanctuary GC) bested two tough opponents. The winner of the 1996 Illinois State Amateur Championship eliminated 2017 CDGA Senior Am victor Terry Werner (Dyer, Indiana / Briar Ridge CC) in the Round of 16, 3 and 2, before knocking off medalist John Madden (Deer Park / Medinah CC), 6 and 5.
Small is slated to square off with Merit Club member John Vernasco (Libertyville / Merit Club). After advancing from the Round of 16 by forfeit, he emerged victorious from the only tightly contested Quarterfinal match. A par on the par-4 17th broke a deadlocked match against Dan Caporusso (Mt. Prospect / Old Orchard CC), before matching birdies on No. 18 resulted in a 1-up win for Vernasco.
The Semifinal matches will tee off at 8 and 8:10 a.m. Wednesday. The final two competitors will square off in the Championship match Thursday morning.
Day One: Monday, June 7
DEFENDING CHAMP SHEPPARD, MADDEN CO-MEDALISTS AFTER 19TH CDGA SENIOR AM STROKE-PLAY QUALIFYING
LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. - Title defense hopes are still alive for Tim Sheppard (East Peoria / Pekin CC) as he, along with John Madden (Deer Park / Medinah CC), fired 3-under 69s to earn co-medalist honors in Monday's stroke-play qualifying of the 19th CDGA Senior Amateur Championship at Merit Club in Libertyville. By order of scorecard return, Madden earned the top seed for match play, with Sheppard, winner of the 2019 edition at Briar Ridge Country Club, taking the No. 2 seed.
Madden, who started on No. 10, notched birdies on Nos. 12 and 16, before an eagle on the par-5, 523-yard 18th hole to turn at 4 under. He followed bogeys on Nos. 2 and 5 with a birdie on the par-4 sixth to finish at 69. Sheppard, who started on No. 1, rattled off three-straight birdies to get to 3 under through three holes. More red figures came in the form of birdies on Nos. 5, 10 and 11. The momentum slowed down, however, with bogeys on Nos. 12, 15 and 17.
A 5-for-3 playoff was held in order to fill the final match-play spots. Awaiting Madden in the Round of 16 is Phillip Saville (Chicago / Olympia Fields CC), with Sheppard taking on Jim Keefe (Lemont / Mistwood GC). In total, five former event champions - Dirk Anderson (Libertyville / Merit Club), Dave Ryan (Taylorville / Illini CC), Terry Werner (Dyer, Indiana / Briar Ridge CC), Brad Kay (Arlington Heights / Ivanhoe Club) and Sheppard - advanced to match play.
The Round of 16 matches are slated to begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday at Merit Club. The Quarterfinals will follow in the afternoon, with Semifinals scheduled for Wednesday morning. The Championship match will be contested on Thursday morning.
CHICAGO DISTRICT SENIORS HEAD TO MERIT CLUB FOR 19th CDGA SENIOR AM
LEMONT, Ill. – More than two years removed from its most recent iteration at Briar Ridge Country Club in Schererville, Indiana, East Peoria's Tim Sheppard seeks to retain the Charles Morgan Auld Cup when the CDGA Senior Amateur Championship returns for its 19th playing at Merit Club June 7-10.
A field of 75 amateurs age 55 and older return to the Libertyville-based club just six years removed from the 14th CDGA Senior Amateur Championship in 2015, in which medalist Dave Ryan rarely trailed en route to a 3-and-2 defeat of Craig Sopko in the Championship match.
The entire field will play 18 holes of stroke play the morning of Monday, June 7, with the low 16 advancing to match play. The first round of matches will be contested on the morning of Tuesday, June 8 with the Quarterfinals being contested that afternoon. The following day is set to hold the Semifinal matches in the morning before a champion is crowned the morning of Thursday, June 10.
ABOUT THE FIELD
Registration was open to all CDGA members age 55 and older with a USGA Handicap Index® of 10.4 or below. Nearly 200 individuals signed up for the event, with exemptions and two qualifiers earlier this spring at Itasca Country Club and Makray Memorial Golf Club determining the final field.
Created in 2002, the CDGA Senior Amateur Championship is a match play tournament for golfers age 55 and up. In 2019, the maximum handicap limit was increased to 10.4. The event begins with an 18-hole qualifier for the entire field, with the low 16 players advancing to match play. The champion of this tournament is the recipient of the Charles Morgan Auld Cup. Tim Sheppard won the 2019 event at Briar Ridge Country Club. The 2020 rendition of the event was canceled due to COVID-19.