Finally having his day

Saari wins UPGA Senior Championship after three straight second place finishes

Scott Saari, of Ishpeming, chips the ball to the green at Marquette Golf Club during U.P. Senior Men’s Championship Wednesday afternoon. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

MARQUETTE — Scott Saari finally had his day.

After three consecutive second place finishes, the Wawonowin Country Club golfer took the crown in the Upper Peninsula Golf Association Men’s Senior Championship shooting a 73 in the final round at the Marquette Golf Club on Tuesday.

That 73 combined with his 71 on day one Monday gave Saari a two-round total of 144 for the tournament, edging out three-time champion Jim Wagner (Little River Country Club) by two strokes.

Saari said it felt good to get a win in the senior tournament after coming up short the last three times he played.

“This feels pretty good and it’s been a long time coming,” he said. “It was a bit of a struggle out there. The front side, I had a double on (hole) 5 so I was two over on the front and the back side, I birdied 10, but bogeyed on 12 and 14. At that point in time I was three shots behind Jim.”

The three-stroke swing took place on hole 16 when Saari birdied and Wagner took a double bogey, giving Saari the lead. Wagner also bogeyed 17 while Saari parred out to take the two-stroke victory.

“It was a close race down the stretch,” Saari added. “I actually thought it was Jim’s tournament (to win) until 16. Jim is a tough player, a good player.”

Saari said he’ll be back to defend his crown next season at North Shore Golf Club in Menominee. The tournament rotates among UPGA courses every year.

“I appreciate Marquette Golf Club hosting this and they did an excellent job of taking care of us,” he said.

Taking third place in the championship flight was Guy Vaara (Gogebic Country Club) who shot a 148. Vaara started the day in second place shooting a first round 72 and a 76 in the final round. He took a bogey on hole 4, a triple bogey on hole 7 and a double bogey on 9 for 5-over on the front nine.

Four players had the next best score, tying at 150. Jim Higgins (Marquette Golf Club), defending champion Larry Bratonia (Irish Oaks), Mike Ward (Marquette Golf Club) and Dave Vaara (Gogebic Country Club).

Following them were Paul Bujold (Pine Grove Country Club) with a 151, Gary Sharp with a 152, Bob Christian (Wawonowin Country Club) and Austin Hummell (Marquette Golf Club) with a 153 and Scott Lauerman (Riverside Golf Club) with a 155.

There was also a team title which was claimed by the Marquette Golf Club. The team of Ward, Hummell, Bart Bartkowiak, Rich Ledy and Kevin Salmela combined for a two-day team score of 779, beating out the Little River Country Club team of Rev Stubenvoll, Glen Reinke, Scott Marineau, Paul Boyce and Tim Kramer, who combined for a score of 808.

The next major UPGA event will be the UPGA Men’s Championship which will take place Aug. 7-10 at Oak Crest Golf Club in Norway.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.