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Kevin Kraft Wins Senior Open



Brian Kast 

SEWICKLEY, Pa. – History was made at the 4th Annual Pennsylvania Senior Open on Tuesday evening, with Kevin Kraft firing a three-under-par 69 in the final round to win the tournament’s Open and Professional divisions and become the first player to hold both PA Open (which he won in August of 2023) and PA Senior Open titles at the same time.

The 53-year-old was three shots behind Oakmont CC’s Bob Friend entering the second and final round but started strong, carding a birdie on hole No. 2 and an eagle on hole No. 3. A bogey on 12 was the only blemish of a fantastic round that included another birdie on the 18th hole.

“The round was stressful,” said Kraft. “This golf course will wear you out. It was a tough day yesterday with the wind blowing and the course was extremely challenging, but today with the wind being down a little bit I knew it was out there – it was just a matter of making it happen. It’s such a hard golf course to get good birdie looks. You have to take what the course gives you. If you miss some opportunities, it can get in your head, but I didn’t panic (after the bogey on 12) and made the nice birdie on 18.”

The clutch putt on 18 was all sorts of dramatic, with Kraft lining it up but then backing off, collecting himself, and making sure he knew what he wanted to do.

“I had a line and when I was standing over the putt, I asked myself, “Do you have this line, or are you just saying you have this line?” recalled Kraft. “So I backed off before fully committing, then hit the putt. It’s hard backing off. It took many, many years for me to learn not to hit shots until you’re absolutely ready. That was one where I knew I wasn’t ready and I knew I needed to make that putt.”

Kraft’s accomplishment of holding both the PA Open and PA Senior Open titles will now be inscribed in the record books, and he knows that it is a feat that will not be easily replicated.

“It’s the coolest thing,” said Kraft. “Beating the young guys is so difficult because they hit it so far and they have no fear. I’m old enough, I have plenty of fear, but we have to just keep swinging. Last summer I was in really good form when that tournament came around and I had full control of my golf swing. Today, I haven’t played enough to have great control of the swing, but it was a really good putting display the last two days. I made a lot of good saves, and that one birdie on 18 when I absolutely needed it.”

Kraft edged out a trio of golfers by just a single stroke to claim the Open title—Woodloch Springs’ John Pillar carded the lowest score of the day, a four-under 68, by sinking four birdies on the front nine, while Kevin Shields (The Club at Nevillewood) and Jeff Frazier (Carlisle CC) shot 70 (-2) and 72 (E), respectively, to join Pillar with two-round totals of 144. Behind them, Allegheny CC’s John Aber (71, -1) and Friend (74, +2) tied for fifth place in the Open division.

Frazier was your wire-to-wire champion in the Amateur division after a pair of even-par rounds to finish two strokes lower than Jericho National CC’s Colin Sanderson. Both golfers had up-and down rounds: Frazier had four birdies and four bogeys, while Sanderson rebounded from a first round 75 (+3) to shoot 71 (-1) with five birdies and four bogeys. Connoquenessing CC’s Rick Stimmel, the reigning Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Senior Player of the Year, also recovered on the second day of the tournament, with a two-under 70 that included three birdies on the front nine to finish in third place. Heidelberg CC’s Chris Fieger Sr. (74-74-148, fourth place) and Sinking Valley CC’s Artie Fink (73-78-151, fifth place) rounded out the top five of the division.

Next up on the Pennsylvania Golf Association schedule is the 17th Men’s and 4th Women’s Annual Senior Match Play Championship which begins next Monday, May 20 at Northampton Country Club.

The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the staff and membership of Sewickley Heights Country Club for the hospitality shown during the tournament, with additional thanks, as aways, going to DICK’S Sporting Goods for sponsorship of the event.