PARK CITY – St. George’s Mike Hacker decided to pick on someone his own age.
Hacker, who is 66-years old, has played in Utah State Amateur golf events for 16 years, always choosing to compete in the “Championship” division, for golfers aged 50-62. This year, he decided to go ahead and bump up to the “Super Senior” division (63-years and older) and it paid immediate dividends. Hacker won four straight match-play events, including a 2-up victory in the championship Wednesday over David Fischer at Glenwild in Park City, to capture the Utah Senior State Amateur title.
“I didn’t think I’d be doing anything but driving home yesterday afternoon,” Hacker said after falling behind late in his semifinal match against Provo’s Dave Johnson. “There’s a lot of pressure. especially in match play. It’s kind of a rush, but when things start going bad, oh man.”
After winning in the opening round Monday at Jeremy Ranch in Park City, Hacker blew away his opponent Tuesday morning at Kamas’ Tuhaye Golf Club, defeating Mike O’keefe from Salt Lake City 4 and 3. The quarterfinal winners had to turn around and play 18 more holes at Tuhaye Tuesday afternoon.
Hacker found himself trailing Johnson most of the match.
“I was behind by three holes the whole front nine,” he said. “I was able to cut it to two after winning 12. That’s when things got really interesting.”
Hacker won both 14 and 15 to tie the match-play semifinal with three holes to play, but the 16th hole was a disaster and Johnson took a one-hole lead with two to play. hacker rallied to tie it on the 17th and the two players halved the 18th. Hacker’s beautiful drive on the sudden death playoff hole set up an easy putt for the win, sending him to Wednesday’s championship match at Glenwild against Fischer from Salt Lake City.
Hacker led most of the match, but he was the one with the pressure Wednesday.
“I was up two going into 15, but I lost two holes in-a-row,” Hacker said. “It was a lot like Tuesday’s semifinal match, only this time, things started going bad for me. I’ve won a few events over the years, so I know what that pressure feels like. You just try not to panic, try to stay calm and hit the best shot you can.”
Now tied, Hacker hit his first shot on the par-3 17th at Glenwild within 18 feet of the cup. Fischer missed the green, setting Hacker up with an easy two-putt for the hole and the lead.
“At that point, I knew if I hit a decent drive on 18 (a par-4), I’d be in good shape,” Hacker said. “When I hit it, I knew I was in good shape because all I had to do was tie the hole to win the match.”
Hacker’s second shot was within 10 feet, while Fischer again missed the green and the match was all but done at that point.
“That’s the fun part of golf, all that pressure,” Hacker said. “You kind of get that panicked feeling, but you manage it. And when you get through it and play well, it’s a great feeling.”
Fischer is always a contender at the UGA Senior events, taking second 2012 and winning in 2014. Hacker will also now likely be a contender in the Super Senior events he enters.
“I don’t play in that many events, three or four this year so far, since work has tightened up for me” said Hacker, who is President at RS Tours. “I’ve always just played in the Championship Division, so this is new for me, playing in the Super Seniors. It was good.”
Brett Sampson won the 2017 Championship Division, defeating Kirk Siddens 1 up. The Net winner was Mark Monsen.
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