SCGA

Liebler adds SCGA Senior title to his Hall of Fame career

When you get inducted into a Hall of Fame most times it is honor given at the end of a successful career.

Steve Liebler was inducted into the SCGA Hall of Fame in 2016, but now his bio will need to be updated to include another major.

The Irmo golfer took a 3-shot lead into the final round of the SCGA Senior Amateur and made it stand up.

Liebler shot a 1-over par 73 to hold off 2-time champion Rick Cloninger by a shot to win the state championship

Steve Liebler took a 3-shot lead into the final round and made it stand up to win the SCGA Senior Amateur at the Carolina Country Club in Spartanburg. (GolfClub Photo)

“It’s been so long since I’ve had the opportunity to be in the hunt,”said Liebler. “The things that go thru your mind when you are 62 versus when you are 25, it was a struggle,” he said.

While Liebler described his final round as a struggle only one other golfer in the field was able to put any pressure on the 36-hole leader.

Cloninger, from Rock Hill, was tied with first round leader Blythewood’s Eddie Hargett for second place starting the final round at the Carolina Country Club in Spartanburg.

Hargett suffered a pair of bogeys on the first nine holes leaving Cloninger the last golfer to attempt to chase down Liebler.

While Liebler birdied his first hole for the third day in a row, Cloninger opened the final round with a bogey. 

By the time the two golfers made the turn the former champion had shaved the lead to 2-shots.

A birdie on the tenth hole by Cloninger cut the lead to just one and the two golfers would maintain the same margin until the 17th hole.

Two-time Senior champion Rick Cloninger finished one-shot behind Liebler to claim second place. (GolfClub Photo)
First round leader Eddie Hargett fell of the pace in the final round and finished third. (GolfClub Photo)

“I had a couple of chances to catch him and maybe even go ahead, but I couldn’t get any putts to go in,” said Cloninger. “It was pretty close up until the last couple of holes,” he said.

Liebler had the same number of opportunities to increase his lead, but also missed on a couple of scoring opportunities.

“Rick missed a couple putts and I missed a short one at 15 and 16. It could have gone either way,” said Liebler.

Cloninger missed his par putt on number 17 to allow Liebler some breathing room going to the final hole.

“It was tough putting. There weren’t many straight in putts and if you missed they kept going. You had to putt defensively,” said Cloninger.

On the final hole Cloninger’s drive did not leave him a chance to go for the green. Instead he had to settle for a par and post his second straight round of 1-under par 71.

During his SCGA Hall of Fame career Liebler has qualified and played in many USGA National Championship events. (GolfClub Photo)

With a 2-shot lead Liebler was able to play conservatively on the final hole and finished with a tap in bogey for a round of 73 and a one-shot victory.

“I had been hitting the ball really well and had a lot of confidence in hitting the shots that I wanted to hit. With a 3-shot lead I probably was more conservative for most of the day,” he said.

Cloninger finished in second place with a 54 hole total of 1-under par 215.

Hargett dropped back to third with Laurens’ Walter Todd and David Reece from Fort Mill in fourth and fifth respectively.

Liebler added the Senior Amateur title two his pair of Mid-Am championships the former USC All-American won in 2006 and 2010.-

The 2016 SCGA Hall of Fame inductee adds the Senior title to a pair of Mid-Am championships. (GolfClub Photo)

“I’ve always believed you should try to play as many SCGA events as you can. Other than the state amateur this kind of warps up all the ones I was eligible to play in and win. It’s a great feeling to have a victory especially this one,” he said.

Complete tournament scores available https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/2351425

Hear from the 2020 SCGA Senior Amateur Champion Steve Liebler.

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