Golfweek Senior Challenge Cup: Who’s leading after Round 1?

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His team won last year and it’s no surprise that captain Gene Elliott has his 2021 team in the lead once again at the Golfweek Senior Challenge Cup on the Nicklaus Course at Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Florida.

With players like Matt Sughrue, Paul Royak, Kevin VandenBerg, and Michael Hughett on Team Elliott, it’s going to be an uphill battle for opposing captain and Golfweek’s 2020 Player of the Year, Craig Hurlbert.

“We both had captain’s picks,” said Hurlbert, “but Gene is playing like two people.”

The Senior Challenge Cup uses a format that is unique in amateur golf. It is a tournament within a tournament. The normal four divisions compete; however, the field is divided into two teams.

Team Elliott has Rich Buckner, Grady Brame, Terry Cook, Michael Hughett, Tom Lape, Kevin VandenBerg, Dick Engel, Joe Palmer, and Paul Royak as captain’s picks.

Team Hurlbert’s picks include Billy Mitchell, Keith Decker, Bryan Keenan, Richard Kerper, Mike Lohner, Allen Peake, Jerry Slagle, John Wright, and Greg Cottrell

The remainder of the field is divided by a blind draw to form two teams.

Elliott’s 2021 accomplishments rival just about any player in the modern era of amateur golf. He is only the third player in history to hold all three major senior amateur titles: The Canadian Senior Amateur, The British Senior Amateur and this year’s U.S. Senior Amateur which he won at The Country Club of Detroit in August.

Hurlbert, who had to withdraw from the tournament with a pinched nerve in his neck, chose Billy Mitchell to fill in as acting captain. Mitchell, who is an athletic trainer from Atlanta and ranked inside the top 25 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, is taking the captain’s role seriously.

After day one, Mitchell had stepped in and led his team to a 1-under 719 total, just three strokes behind Elliott’s team total of 4-under 716.

There were no surprises in the senior division where both Elliott from West Des Moines, Iowa, and Michael Hughett from Tulsa, Oklahoma, posted 5-under 67’s while 10 other players were at par or better.

In the Super Senior division, Brian Johnston of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, had one birdie and one bogey en route to an even par-72.

The Super Legends division had Jack Marin, the former guard/forward from Duke University — who spent 11 seasons in the National Basketball Association, playing for the Baltimore Bullets, Houston Rockets, Buffalo Braves and Chicago Bulls — leading after carding a 1-under 71.

Round two starts at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec 15. You can follow along with live scoring on GolfGenius with the GGID: GWSCCR