NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (Sept 16, 2014) — Randal Lewis, 57, of Alma, Mich., the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, won two extra-hole matches on Tuesday to move into the quarterfinal round of the 2014 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,770-yard, par-72 Big Canyon Country Club.
Lewis defeated the championship’s No. 2 seed, two-time Mid-Amateur champion Tim Jackson, in 20 holes in the morning’s Round of 32, and then defeated Emile Vaughan, of Pike Road, Ala., in 19 holes in the afternoon’s Round of 16. In both matches, Lewis came to the par-5 18th hole 1 down and won it with a birdie. Against Vaughan, Lewis barely cleared the water fronting the green on the 517-yard par 5 with his second shot after Vaughan had hit his second shot into the water.
“No. 18’s been good to me today,” said Lewis, who, at 54, became the Mid-Amateur’s oldest champion. “Thank goodness it cleared the water. I thought my shot was in the middle of the green. It took everything I had to squeak by Tim [Jackson] in the morning and I was tired the whole 18 in the afternoon. I was running on fumes.”
Lewis defeated Vaughan on the 19th hole when he hit his approach to within 10 feet on the 343-yard first hole, and Vaughan’s second shot found the water in front of the green. He topped Jackson in the morning with a birdie on the 20th hole, the 485-yard, par-5 second hole.
Vaughan defeated defending champion Doug Hanzel, 3 and 2, in the morning round before his ouster by Lewis. Of his second shot on No. 18 with a 1-up lead, he said, “The USGA does a good job of putting hard decisions in your hands. I had 212 yards to the hole and 190 yards to cover the water, with my opponent 20 yards closer than me. I just hit the shot thin and it ended up costing me.”
Lewis will next face Jack Hall, of Savannah, Ga., who defeated Raymond Thompson, of Drexel Hill, Pa., 5 and 4, in the morning and Lee Sandlin, of Dallas, 3 and 2, in the afternoon.
Pat Tallent, 61, of Vienna, Va., the 2010 Senior Amateur runner-up and a quarterfinalist last year, defeated Mike Davis, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., 4 and 3, in the morning, and Ron Carter, of Monticello, Ind., 4 and 2, in the afternoon. Tallent squared the afternoon match when Carter three-putted the par-3 12th, then won the next four holes, two with birdies, to close it out.
“Everyone here can play – the question is who is going to hit the good shots at the right time,” said Tallent, who along with the other seven quarterfinalists earns an exemption into next year’s championship at Hidden Creek Golf Club, in Egg Harbor, N.J. “I didn’t know which one of us was going to fade [in the afternoon match], but I knew one of us would.”
Tallent will take on Michael Turner, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., on Wednesday. Turner, 57, defeated Mike Bell, of Indianapolis, and Tom Brandes, of Bellevue, Wash., by identical 2-and-1 scores.
Rick Cloninger, of Fort Mill, S.C., ousted the medalist, Alan Fadel, 7 and 6, in the morning round, then birdied the 18th and 19th holes to eliminate Dave Szewczul, of Farmington, Conn., in the afternoon. Cloninger, the No. 32 seed, leaped ahead of Fadel, winning five of the first six holes.
The medalist has not won the U.S. Senior Amateur since 1987, the longest active span among the 10 USGA amateur championships.
“It was a big day,” said Cloninger. “This morning was as good as I’ll ever play. I didn’t miss a shot early, and I caught Alan a little off. This afternoon, I executed two shots right when I needed them most. On No. 18, it’s all or nothing, either it goes in or it doesn’t, and I hit as good a putt as I hit all day. That makes me feel the best.”
Cloninger faces No. 40 seed Frank Dial, of Auburn, Ala., who defeated John Hornbeck, of Saratoga, Wyo., 1 up, in the morning, and James Gallagher, of Yorktown, Va., 2 and 1, in the afternoon.
Bryan Norton, of Mission Hills, Kan., at No. 11 the highest remaining seed in the championship, will play No. 46 Peter Wegmann, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in the other quarterfinal match. Norton, who helped Kansas win the 2010 USGA State Team Championship and was the 2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up, defeated Big Canyon member Don Dubois, of Newport Beach, Calif., in the morning round, 4 and 2. He ousted Todd Hendley, of Greer, S.C., 3 and 2, in the Round of 16. Wegmann defeated Kelly Miller, of Southern Pines, N.C., 1 up, and Chris Hall, of Mableton, Ga., 3 and 2.
The U.S. Senior Amateur consists of 36 holes of stroke play, after which the field is reduced to the low 64 scorers for match play. Six match-play rounds determine the champion, with the 18-hole final set for Thursday at 8:30 a.m. PDT.
The U.S. Senior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.