USGA Senior Am: Simson, Leonard are Co-Medalists

Newburgh, Ind. (Sept 17, 2006) -– Paul Simson, 55, of Raleigh, N.C., and Bill Leonard, 57, of Kennesaw, Ga., shared stroke-play medalist honors Sunday at 1-under-par 143 at the 2006 USGA Senior Amateur at Victoria National Golf Club.

Simson, who followed his 4-under-par 68 with a 3-over-par 75, is the co-medalist for the second time at a USGA championship. He was also co-medalist at the 2004 U.S. Mid-Amateur, an event in which he has twice reached the semifinals.

The insurance executive who has played in a USGA championship in 21 of the last 22 years, made his only birdie of the day at the water-lined 405-yard par-4 18th hole to tie Leonard, who played in the morning.

“I’d have been disappointed if I had three shots and not taken care of that deal,” Simson said. “I’m pleased to be tied.”

Leonard, a manager for a golf retail store, made five birdies and three bogeys over the challenging Tom Fazio layout in southern Indiana to shoot the low round of the day at 2-under-par 70. Arthur Mielke, 55, of Matthews, N.C., also shot 70.

“The last couple of days, it’s been about the same thing, which is to take advantage of the short holes, the wedges in there,” Leonard said. “Most of my birdies have eight feet and in.”

Playing in his fifth USGA championship but first Senior Amateur, Leonard was unsuccessful in his attempt to qualify at Senior Tour School in 2000. He was required to remain a professional for one year and as a result is reinstated amateur. He never played professionally but has qualified for two Senior Opens.

Trailing Simson and Leonard by three strokes at 146 were 2003 quarterfinalist Sam Farlow, 59, of Birmingham, Ala., who shot 76 and, 2005 quarterfinalist Bob Mielcarz, 57, of Concord, N.H., who shot 75.

Simson, the 2006 British Senior Amateur champion, hit the first 10 greens of the day, but failed to convert a birdie putt.

“It will be fine,” Simson said of his putting. “I’ve learned a lot about these greens. It’s stored up and hopefully, it will be better."

All four past Senior Amateur champions advanced to match play. The 2004 champion, Mark Bemowski, 60, of Mukwonago, Wis., shot 76 for 150; 2002 winner Greg Reynolds, 59, of Grand Blanc, Mich., shot 79 for 152; defending champion Mike Rice, 66, of Houston, Texas, shot 74 for 153; and 2001 and 2003 champion Kemp Richardson, 60, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., shot 79 for 154.

Among the notables missing match play were Vinny Giles, 63, of Richmond, Va., who won the 1972 U.S. Amateur, at 159; and 2005 semifinalist Jack Vardaman, 66, of Washington, D.C. at 170.

Victoria National yielded just six sub-par scores in two days by the 156-man field. The scoring average was 79.9.

The cut for the 64 players in the match play field came at 12-over par 156. A seven-man playoff for the final six berths in match play will begin on Monday at 8:30 a.m. CDT on hole #10.

All six rounds of match play are scheduled for 18 holes each, culminating with the final on Thursday.

For stroke play only, six tees were moved up a total of 167 yards because of heavy pre-championship rainfall.

The USGA Senior Amateur, for players 55 and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA.

Story written by Pete Kowalski of USGA Media Relations. E-mail him with questions and comments at pkowalski@usga.org

NOTES: Seven of last year's eight quarterfinalists returned to match play...Eddie Bass, 55, of University Park, Fla., made the biggest turnaround of the morning with a 1-under-par 71, 12 strokes better than his first-round 83…Arthur Mielke, 55, of Matthews, N.C., tied for the day’s best round at 70 after shooting a first-day 81…with their respective turnarounds, both advanced to match play…through the morning wave of scores, only four under-par scores had been recorded in two days…Mike Jonsen, 58, of Sammamish, Wash., scored a hole-in-one at the 195-yard, par-3 11th hole with a 3-iron…it was the 14th ace in the history of the championship and his first in competition…he has three holes-in-one in his career…”I tell my friends I have one every 27 years but now I have to re-do the average,”…Jonsen estimated the wind at 15 MPH at the time of the shot…Jonsen’s father, Carl, now 90, was a member of the Seattle team that won the 1936 Amateur Public Links Team Championship at Bethpage State Park’s Blue course in Farmingdale, N.Y…He shot 77.

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