CASHIERS, N.C. – Stroke-play medalist Chip Lutz, 58, of Reading, Pa., and two-time U.S. Senior Open low amateur Douglas Hanzel, 56, of Savannah, Ga., were among eight golfers who won a pair of matches on Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals of the 2013 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,842-yard, par-72 Wade Hampton Golf Club.
Lutz, a two-time USGA Senior Amateur semifinalist (2010 and 2011), played the equivalent of 4-under-par golf in winning his two matches – 5 and 4 over Paul Schlachter, of Pittsburgh, and 3 and 2 over Robert Valerio, of Hawthorne, Calif. – while Hanzel, a semifinalist last year, needed only 28 holes to eliminate Mike Poe, of Athens, Tenn., 4 and 3, and Peter Wegmann, of Sea Ranch Lakes, Fla., 7 and 5.
Also advancing to the quarterfinals, which features three Pennsylvanians, are Don Erickson III, 61, of Dubois, Pa.; Buzz Fly, 58, of Memphis, Tenn.; 2012 Senior Amateur quarterfinalist Pat O’Donnell, 59, of Happy Valley, Ore.; David Szewczul, 59, of Farmington, Conn.; 2010 USGA Senior Amateur runner-up Patrick Tallent, 60, of Vienna, Va.; and Ray Thompson, 61, of Drexel Hill, Pa.
All of the quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2014 Senior Amateur at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif.
The USGA Senior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA. The competition began with two stroke-play qualifying rounds, followed by a cut to the low 64 golfers for match play, which began on Monday. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be played on Wednesday, with the 18-hole championship match set for 9 a.m. EDT on Thursday.
Lutz has played five rounds at Wade Hampton and has been under par in all of them. Valerio matched him shot for shot over the first 10 holes of their third-round match. The two had matching pars until Valerio bogeyed the 11th hole, leading to three consecutive wins for Lutz.
“That was a pretty exciting match,” said Lutz, who claimed the 2011 and 2012 British Senior Open Amateur and Canadian Senior Amateur titles. “No one was budging. I was thinking I just needed to be patient and that things would come through. Fortunately I made a birdie on 12 … and won four holes in a row.”
Hanzel had five birdies against just one double bogey in his two matches on Tuesday.
“I didn’t really putt good today,” said Hanzel. “I’m excited because I think the putter will light up.”
Two third-round matches went extra holes, with Tallent prevailing over No. 2 seed Jack Hall, of Sea Island, Ga., in 19 holes and Ray Thompson, the lowest seed remaining (No. 56) surviving a 20-hole encounter with eighth-seeded Brady Exber, of Las Vegas, Nev. It was Exber’s second extra-hole match; he defeated 2009 champion Vinny Giles in 19 holes on Monday.
Tallent, a former All-American basketball player at George Washington University, birdied the par-5 first hole to close out Hall and reach the quarterfinal round for the second time in three years.
“It was a great match,” said Tallent. “It was really tense. Jack is a fine player, I just happened to be the winner.
“I accomplished getting my exemption. Now everything is great. I learned a long time ago that there is nothing you can do until you get up there on that [first] tee and start playing. You can think about it all you want to, but it is not going to do you any good.”
Thompson made an up-and-down par from the collection area on the par-4 second hole to beat Exber, who also missed the green with his approach and lipped out an 8-footer for par.
“This is as calm as I have been all year playing golf,” said Thompson, who will play Lutz in the quarterfinals. “I was thinking I might never get back here, so I am just enjoying the day the best I can. If I keep the same mindset [against Lutz], I should be OK.”
O’Donnell had quite a day at Wade Hampton. In the second round, he eliminated defending champion Paul Simson, of Raleigh, N.C., 3 and 2, and followed it up with a 2-and-1 victory over left-hander Michael Turner in the Round of 16 to reach the quarterfinals for a second consecutive year.
The longest day belonged to Szewczul, who played 39 holes and won three matches. He needed six holes early Tuesday to finish off his suspended first-round match against David Schultz, of Canada, 3 and 2. Nine first-round matches were not completed on Monday due to darkness.
Szewczul, who was the oldest competitor in last month’s U.S. Amateur, then defeated Jim Rollefson, of Franklin, Wis., 4 and 3, in the second round before avenging a 2012 Senior Amateur loss to George Zahringer, of New York, 2 and 1.
A few tips from his longtime pro, John Nowobilski at Tumble Brook Country Club in Bloomfield, Conn., have paid off for Szewczul, who had never advanced this far in his previous 23 USGA championship appearances.
“I’ve been keeping it in play and not making any mistakes,” said Szewczul. “He helped me with a few swing tips and I remembered those.”
Szewczul, who also played 34 holes on Sunday due to Saturday’s weather delay, said stamina isn’t an issue going into Wednesday’s play.
“I try to keep myself fit,” he said. “That’s not going to be a problem.”