Story by Alex Podlogar
PINEHURST, N.C. – Over twenty years ago, before he won his first North & South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst, Paul Simson couldn’t bring himself to even look at the wall of names of past champions in the resort’s famed clubhouse.
Oh, he knew the names. Knew them well. But even for the man who seems to have won every amateur title imaginable, it was the thought of having his name emblazoned in bronze at Pinehurst that sent the chill through him.
“I wouldn’t even go by the wall,” Simson said. “I just wanted my name to go up there so much, I couldn’t even bring myself to look at it.”
Just 20 years after winning the 1995 North & South Amateur, Simson played his way deeper into Pinehurst lore on Thursday after firing a final-round 69 to win the 64th Senior Men’s North & South Amateur Championship. It is Simson’s fifth Senior Amateur title, and with his two North & South championships, now puts his name on the North & South wall a total of seven times, the most in Pinehurst history. It is an honor he now shares with 7-time North & South Amateur Champion George Dunlap, 7-time Women’s North & South Amateur Champion Estelle Lawson Page and Carolyn Cudone, who won six Senior Women’s North & Souths and one Women’s North & South Amateur.
“It’s incredible to think about,” Simson said. “People 100 years from now may go by that wall, see my name and think, ‘What funny clubs did they use back then?’
“It’s something of a legacy, I guess. I know a lot of people who come here to visit and they stop by that wall. They tell me they’ve seen my name. It’s always a thrill to win at Pinehurst.”
Simson, a Raleigh native, came into the final round a shot behind Don Reycroft, of Norfolk, Massachusetts. But Simson and Reycroft were even after the 12th hole on Pinehurst No. 5, and when Reycroft opened the door with a bogey at 16, Simson capped his bogey-free round with a birdie at the 18th for a clear 4-shot victory at 10-under 204.
Birmingham, Alabama’s Steve Hudson was third after a final-round 67 for a three-day total of 5-under 209.
Simson, 64, is a legend in amateur golf, having won more than 200 titles. In 2010, he won the British Amateur, the Canadian Amateur and the U.S. Senior Amateur in a span of 55 days. In 2008, Simson played in the U.S. Senior Open, the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst and the U.S. Senior Amateur.