The 2021 IGA Senior Player of the Year, Joe Palmer (above), broke through with his first IGA victory of the season. Palmer stormed up the leaderboard to claim the 44th Iowa Senior Amateur Championship after a first round 73 set him back.
“It is not easy with 36 holes when you are eight shots back,” Palmer said. “Sean (Davis), who put the 66 on there, is a really steady player. I did not think he was going to come back to us, but I had no choice but to try to dig in and get something done.”
That’s what Palmer did.
Back-to-back rounds of 66 put Palmer ahead of the second-round leaders, Sean Davis, of Council Bluffs, and Bret Taylor, of Booneville.
“Fortunately, on day two, I got it to where I was in striking distance,” said Palmer. “Today I got off to a good start and unfortunately for them they did not have their best ball striking days. Then it was a whole new ball game.”
Heading into the week of the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, Palmer did not shy away from teeing it up at this week. Now going into the prestigious championship, Palmer will have a boost of confidence.
“Fortunately, I won a few years back when we went to Eugene, Oregon for the U.S. Senior Amateur,” Palmer said. “I had won at Des Moines Golf and Country Club and flew out the next morning. I really wanted to go in playing, I like the competition. It is hard to replace that.”
Davis played his final round at three-over par, giving him a solo second place finish. Taylor carded a four-over 75 to take home third place with a two-under three-day tally.
Dave Gaer and the 2022 Herman Sani Tournament Senior Champion, Jay Gregory, played consistent golf this week and round out the top-five in the Senior Division. Gaer placed fourth at one-under par for the tournament and Gregory finished at one-over par.
Bob Brooks (right) was able to hang on and claim the Super Senior Division title. Brooks was two-shots back after day one but flipped the switch and stayed away from the big numbers as he finished out his week.
“I stayed away from the big number, that was the key,” Brooks said. “Some of my poor shots, I recovered really well. If you hit a fairway, you had a good chance for a birdie. I hit a lot of fairways and only missed two greens today.”
Brooks was in a good spot with his game this week. Driving the ball well, hitting solid approach shots and making putts. It all seemed to flow.
“They say drive for show, putt for dough,” Brooks said. “I always say, ‘You can’t putt for dough if you don’t drive for show.’ A big part of my game is locating the pin from the tee box and trying to hit a specific area.”
Even though Brooks was playing with the leaders, he stayed focused on his own game. A couple mistakes resulted in dropped shots, but Brooks was able to battle back and recover. At the turn, Brooks started to feel the confidence rise.
“I knew if I just hit the ball the way I did the last few days, I would be okay,” Brooks said. “I almost had a hole in one on my third hole. It was three inches from just past the pin. It got me into a comfortable zone. Once I made the turn, I peaked at the leaderboard and said to myself, ‘just keep hitting fairways,’ and that is what I did.”
Jim Butler and Rob Christensen tied for second place. Both Butler and Christensen had solid weeks after a pair of 215 totals. A three-way tie for fourth place concludes our top-five. Rick Gorbell, Joel Yunek and Steve Kahler posted four-over par for the week.
You can follow Palmer as he takes on The Kittansett Club the 2022 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship with his fellow Iowans, Curtis Holck, Jon Brown, Gene Elliott and the 2023 Walker Cup Captain, Mike McCoy.
1. Joe Palmer 73-66-66=205
2. Sean Davis 65-71-74=210
3. Bret Taylor 70-66-75=211
4. Dave Gaer 72-71-69=212
5. Jay Gregory 71-71-72=214
Super Senior Division
Bob Brooks 72-69-70=211
T2. Jim Butler 74-70-71=215
T2. Rob Christensen 72-73-70=215
T4. Rick Gorbell 75-71-71=217
T4. Joel Yunek 71-72-74=217
T4. Steve Kahler 73-71-73=217