Riefler 2nd in Senior Am

Published 6:30 pm Saturday, August 29, 2015

George Riefler of Suffolk already knew he has had days where he could play against the best VSGA senior amateurs out there.

Stringing together several of those days last week helped earn him second place in the 68th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship.

“To do it all week was just very satisfying,” he said. “It kind of let me know that all the days of practice of hitting balls and putting — it kind of all came together.”

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It was the fifth time Riefler, 59, has played in the event and the third time he has qualified for the match play portion of it. Prior to this year, though, he had never advanced beyond the quarterfinals.

David Partridge made it to Friday’s final, along with Riefler, and ended up winning the championship 2-up after close competition at the Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club in Virginia Beach.

Riefler said he had two goals going into the championship match. Of course, he wanted to win, but if that did not happen, he at least wanted to make Partridge earn it and make the match last a full 18 holes.

He succeeded in his second goal, as Partridge could not lock up the victory until the 18th hole.

Riefler surprised even himself at his calmness in the final.

“I felt like I was playing with ‘house money’ at that point,” he said. “I really did feel like I had nothing to lose.”

He proceeded to birdie two of the first four holes to go 2-up early.

He set up his berth in Friday’s final with a pair of winning performances on Thursday against the event’s 2014 finalists, who were in the hunt again.

“That was very satisfying, to say the least,” Riefler said.

He started Thursday by defeating two-time defending champion Keith Decker 1-up in the quarterfinals.

“He has more résumé in his little finger than I have in my whole career, so that was definitely an exciting time for me and a challenge for me to step up,” Riefler said.

He described Decker as obviously the best senior amateur in the state and said their quarterfinal match featured Decker having a semi-off day, while he had one of his better days.

Then, Riefler wrapped up Thursday by topping 2014 runner-up Mike Caprio 2-up in the semifinals.

In the rounds of 16 and 32, Riefler trailed for most of his matches against Steve Williams and Tom Grady, respectively. But in both cases, he came back late and won on the last hole of play, which was the 20th hole against Williams and the 18th against Grady.

“I’m not an egotistical person, but I don’t quit,” Riefler said. “I just had a resolve to not give up and fight it to the end, and it just happened to work out for me.”

He said the course was compatible with his style of play. It was fairly flat, not overly long and had perfect greens, playing to his strength as a putter.

“I made 31 birdies in 128 holes,” he said. “When you make a lot of birdies, you can win a lot of holes, and that can keep you in matches, and it can also boost your confidence.”

Riefler will play in the Senior Open of Virginia Sept. 17 and 18 on the Country Club of Virginia’s Westhampton Course.