Since the late Mark Bemowski garnered the last of his five consecutive Wisconsin State Golf Association Senior Player-of-the-Year honors in 2013, Paul Zarek of Burlington and Kevin Cahill of Waukesha have established themselves as the over-50 amateur golfers to beat in Wisconsin over the last five years.
Until now. Add Rocky Sperka of New Berlin to the list.
Sperka, 56, the runner-up to Cahill in the 2017 WSGA Senior Player of the Year race, topped him for the honor this year. Sperka, who won the WSGA Senior Match Play Championship and tied for second behind Zarek at the WSGA Senior Amateur, dominated the senior ranks with 1,207.50 points — 275 points ahead of Cahill (932.50) and 277 points in front of Zarek (930).
Four-time WSGA player of the year Bob Gregorski of Menasha was fourth with 907.50 points. Verona's Jim Doing rounded out the top five with 800 points.
"There's a lot of really good senior amateur players in this state that I enjoy competing against, and to play well and beat those guys from time to time is a great honor," Sperka said in a story on the WSGA website. "I was able to do that a few times this year, so I'm pleased by that."
Sperka's summer began slowly during June. After losing 1-up to eventual champion Michael Bielawski in the first round of the WSGA Match Play Championship at Blackhawk Country Club in Madison, Sperka missed the cut at the Ray Fischer State Amateur Tournament at Janesville Riverside and finished back in the pack at the WSGA Senior Bestball Championship.
However, things changed at the WSGA Senior Match Play at the River Club of Mequon. Sperka shot 71 in the qualifying round to finish second and then pulled out a pair of 2-and-1 victories and won a 21-hole marathon over former University of Wisconsin golfer Jocko Rueth of Waukegan, Illinois, before rolling to a 6-and-5 win over Osseo's Scott Semingson in the semifinals and a 7-and-5 victory over Gregorski in the finals — the largest margin of victory in the finals in the 17-year history of the WSGA's senior match-play event.
Sperka made the cut at the Wisconsin State Amateur and finished tied for third behind co-champions Eddie Terasa of Waukesha and Jim Schuman of Wauwatosa at the WSGA/WPGA Summer Showdown on Aug. 13. Two weeks later, he placed second at the WSGA Senior Amateur at Thornberry Creek at Oneida, taking a share of the lead after an opening 69 but closing with a 76 and bogeying the final hole to finish as runner-up to Zarek by one shot.
By that point, though, Sperka had the Senior Player-of-the-Year title virtually wrapped up. He finished fifth at the WSGA Mid-Amateur and tied for 14th at the WPGA State Senior Open where Cahill finished tied for sixth and earned a season-high 150 points to slip past Zarek in the battle for second place.
Meanwhile, McFarland's Tom Everson, 67, earned the distinction of WSGA Super-Senior Player of the Year for over-60 golfers with 935 points — well ahead of runner-up Robert Yurasovich of St. Francis (502) and Stu Grendahl of Madison (500). Everson won super-senior divisions of three WSGA Senior Tour events, including the Senior Tour Championship at Wild Rock Golf Course in Wisconsin Dells where he tied three others for first, and the WSGA Super-Senior Match Play Championship, topping Yurasovich 2-and-1 in the final.
The Super-Senior points standings includes the late Mark Bemowski of Mukwonago, who died Sept. 21 at age 72 of complications from pancreatic cancer. The four-time WSGA player of the year and eight-time WSGA senior player of the year finished in the top 10 in the super-senior divisions of three WSGA Senior Tour events in May and June before his condition took a turn for the worse.
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