MANHATTAN, KS (August 12, 2014) — Don Kuehn has been playing senior golf in Kansas for 17 years. During that time he has won Senior Amateur champion Don Kuehnseveral senior championships including two Kansas Senior Amateurs. Golf probably is Don’s “fountain of youth” as no one plays in more competitions and his belt has been notched in the same hole since he was a teenager!
In August, Don Kuehn won his third Kansas Senior Amateur championship playing at Manhattan Country Club at the age of 67 years, 8 months and 22 days. The KGA had not kept such a record until then, but after the win by Kuehn, the calculation was made. Past winners Johnny Stevens of Wichita and Fred Rowland of Leawood, both multiple winners and members of the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame, were each 65 years-old when they won their last Kansas Senior Amateur title.
Kuehn’s win sets a record for age and experience and ties him with four other Kansas greats with three Kansas Senior Amateur titles. Red Hogan won in 1981, 1983 and 1984. Odie Wilson of Independence dominated in 1986, 1988 and 1989. Toalson won his titles in 1991, 1998 and 2002, while Rowland won in 1995, 2000 and 2003. Knowing that, Kuehn’s performance is notable in that his three wins span 13 years, more than any other three-time champion.
Don Kuehn always tees it up to win, even if playing the #1 seed in the Kansas Amateur. So it was no surprise to see Kuehn’s name at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the 36-hole championship. His even-par 70 was matched by Joe Gorenc of Arma, KS and Mike Grosdidier of Lawrence.
The 6,240-yard Manhattan Country Club played different and more difficult than usual in the first round when temperatures moderated to the low 80s when a strong northwest wind greeted the field through many of the northbound holes.Runner-up Joe Gorenc
Other notables handled the conditions well. Defending Steve Groom posted a 3-over par 73 and former KGA Mid-Amateur Player of the Year Tracy Chamberlin shot 71 to trail the three leaders by a single stroke. Chris Hutchens of Lawrence, making is “senior golf debut”, shot 1-over par 71 as well. Perhaps the best round of the day was turned in by 76-year old Fred Rowland. He shot lower than his age at 2-over par 72 to get a spot in the next last group for the second round.
The second round could have played out with considerable drama with at least six golfers in the hunt. But Kuehn took charge early with a birdie at the short par four #2 hole while Grosdidier posted a bogey. Gorenc stumbled on the #4 hole with a double bogey that included a one stroke penalty when his ball moved on the putting green after grounding his club. At that point Kuehn had a lead that he would never relinquish.
Playing well with tee shots down the middle of the fairway and hitting greens in regulation, Kuehn managed to build his lead to two strokes over Grosdidier and three strokes over Gorenc over the front nine. Kuehn’s birdie at the par four #11 hole might have been cause for relaxation until he made his only bogey of the round at #12 and then Grosdidier birdied the #14 hole to get to within one stroke of Kuehn.
Two things happened in the closing four holes for the two leaders, Kuehn and Grosdidier. Don Kuehn Kuehn stayed consistent with pars punctuated with a closing birdie 3 at the #18 hole giving him the only under par round of the championship at 2-under par 68 and a total of 138. But Grosdidier made three bogies to close the round at 3-over par and a total of 143. Obviously disappointed in the outcome, Mike Grosdidier took something positive from the two days of competitive golf – his shoulder surgery was now rehabilitated and he could again contend. Joe Gorenc finished as runner-up at 1-over par 141 and at the age of only 54 he will be a force in Kansas senior golf in the future.
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