USGA Senior Am: Co-Medalists, 2004 Champ Advance

Newburgh, Ind. (Sept 19, 2006) –– Co-medalists Paul Simson and Bill Leonard and 2004 champion Mark Bemowski each won two matches Tuesday to advance to the third round of the 2006 USGA Senior Amateur at Victoria National Golf Club.

Simson, 55, of Raleigh, N.C., won his first match over Brian Sachs of Gainesville, Fla., 8 and 7, tying a Senior Amateur mark for largest margin of victory. The 2006 British Senior Amateur champion then defeated Richard Stevens of Middlebury, Conn., 4 and 2, in the second round.

“You always talk about the medalist jinx but you’ve got to beat six people after you qualify,” Simson said. “After the first two rounds, I don’t think the seeding makes a whole lot of difference. There are not going to be too many easy matches.”

Simson, who has qualified for a USGA championship in 22 consecutive years, was the equivalent of 5-under-par through 13 holes against Stevens for a 5-up lead. Despite two consecutive lost holes with a double bogey and bogey, Simson still managed his victory.

“My putting is back,” Simson said. “I worked on it a little bit, but it’s mostly just gaining confidence in the speed.”

Leonard, 57, of Kennesaw, Ga., defeated Jim Pierce of Oro Valley, Ariz., 6 and 4; and then Gary Verble of Ponte Vedra, Fla., 3 and 1.

Bemowski ousted two-time champion Kemp Richardson of Laguna Niguel, Calif., 3 and 2, in the first round and, followed it with a 2-and-1 win over Ronald Richard of Fort Smith, Ark.

“To be beat a terrific player like Kemp is great,” said Bemowski, a three-time finalist who holds a 21-4 mark in Senior Amateur match play. “He didn’t have his ‘A’ game.”

Two other past champions were eliminated: defending champion Mike Rice of Houston, Texas, and 2002 winner Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc, Mich.

Rice lost to Terry Tessary of Collinsville, Ill., 2 and 1, in the first round. Reynolds was unseated by 2005 quarterfinalist Bob Mielcarz, 57, of Concord, N.H., 3 and 2, in the second round.

“Last year went a long way to convince me that maybe I belonged, somewhat, at this level,” Mielcarz said. “I think I caught one of the premier players in the country on an off day.”

Alan Foster of Manlius, N.Y., a semifinalist in both 2004 and 2005, lost to Ken Forster, 62, of Salem, Ore., 4 and 2, in the second round. In the first round, Forster beat 2004 semifinalist Michael Walters of Tampa, Fla., 5 and 4.

Monday’s rain forced a postponement and no first-round matches were completed.

Match play continues with the third and quarterfinal rounds Wednesday and the semifinal and championship rounds on Thursday.

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.

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