Acton Would Like to Start Just as Strong as He Finishes

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rick Acton, in his first year on the Senior PGA Tour, already has fallen into a playing pattern he's really hoping to snap out of.

He has struggled in his first round in the last five tournaments and as a result taken himself out of first-place contention.

But after a wobbly start, he has played much better.

Such was the case for Acton Sunday in the final round of the Toshiba Senior Classic at Newport Beach Country Club.

Acton, a long-time club professional who was born in Portland, opened the tournament with a six-over 77 in which he was seven-over after the first nine holes. He said he struggled most with his putting partly because he was playing late in the day and the greens were somewhat bumpy after a full day's traffic.

"I must have lost 10 shots from inside of five feet," he said.

But as is his fashion, he rallied from there.

Playing early, he shot a one-under 70 Saturday. He followed that with six-under 65 Sunday. It also was the second best round of the day, yielding only to Bob Eastwood's 64.

Acton finished at one-under 212 and won $10,500. He also raised his earnings for the year to $144,988.

Acton had shot 64 in the final round at the FHP Health Care Classic to finish in a sixth-place tie and win $28,800 two weeks ago. He also has final rounds of 69 and 68 in tournaments this year.

"I've got to break out of this pattern," Acton said. "I feel like I'm putting some pressure on myself to get out of the blocks. But you can't do that and win. I spend the rest of the tournament trying to get back up there [among the leaders] and to let people know I played.

"Every tour rookie's goal is to finish in the top 31 so they are exempt for next year. My personal goals are much higher but I don't want to be bold and say what they are."

Acton, who drove the ball well past his playing partners Ken Still and Don Massengale on almost every hole Sunday, started the day five-over.

He hit a wedge to within a foot on the 339-yard, par-four first hole. He then tapped in the birdie putt.

He then rolled off three consecutive birdies on holes four, five and six. He made a 15-footer at the 143-yard fourth, a par three.

At the 455-yard, par-four fifth, he also made a 15-footer for a three. His next birdie came from 20 feet at the 418-yard, par-four sixth.

Acton, who hits right-handed but putts from the left side, then made seven consecutive pars until he made a six-footer for his fifth birdie at the 397-yard, par-four 14th. He capped the round by rolling in an eight-footer on the 510-yard, par-five 18th.

After the round, several other professionals, including Dale Douglass and Simon Hobday, came by and congratulated Acton on his round.

"Nobody was talking to me after Friday's round," he said. "I had kind of a scowl on my face."

Acton, who graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in business administration in 1968, soon went to work as a club professional. He was the director of golf at Sahalee Country Club in Seattle before giving it up after earning his tour card.

He did that by finishing fourth at the qualifying tournament.

He has enjoyed his time on the tour so far but admits he gets bored and isn't used to days that only require him to play golf or practice.

"I'm used to being busier," he said. "I've read all the books there are to read. Now, I'm thinking of reading Danielle Steel's books because she writes so fast."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
62°