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Greg Condon opens strong at U.S. Senior Amateur
Greg Condon opened in 5-under 67 <br>(USGA Photo)
Greg Condon opened in 5-under 67
(USGA Photo)

EUGENE, Ore. (Aug. 25, 2018) – As soon as Greg Condon found his footing at Eugene Country Club, it was smooth sailing for the 56-year-old. Condon, a Monte Vista, Colo., resident who is the quintessential public golfer, bogeyed his second hole of the day Saturday in the opening round of the U.S. Senior Amateur, and never looked back. Six birdies followed, including three in the final four holes, in a 5-under 67.

The round gave Condon a two-shot lead in the first stage of this championship, positioning him for a comfortable spot on the match-play leaderboard. A year ago, Condon fell in the first round of match play at this championship. A top seed would make the opening rounds a lot easier, even if Condon does feel a little more challenged in a head-to-head situation.

“Stroke play is fun, [but] match play can be more demanding,” he said. “It’s harder to stay focused at times. I have so much golf left. Today is just a fortunate day, let’s call it a lucky day.”

Condon is no stranger to national competition. He has advanced to the sectional stage of U.S. Open qualifying twice, including in 2017 at the age of 55, and he reached the Round of 32 in the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at the age of 50. Earlier this summer, he missed the cut at the U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.

On Saturday, the course seemed to suit him.

“I just hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens,” said Condon, who has his son, Luke, on the bag this week. “I had a couple [shots] go into the trees and was very fortunate, got the right bounce.”

Jeff Wilson, 55, of Fairfield, Calif., the low amateur in the 2018 U.S. Senior Open; 2017 U.S. Senior Amateur semifinalist Frank Vana Jr., 56, of Boxford, Mass.; and Dennis Smith, 64, of Lafayette, La., each shot 3-under 69s. They were one stroke clear of 1979 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Jack Larkin, 56, of Atlanta, Ga. Vana and Smith were the only competitors with bogey-free rounds.

Smith, competing in his first USGA championship, kept his card clean by holing a 25-foot par putt on the fourth hole, his 13th of the day. He hit 15 of 18 greens, and birdied Nos. 8, 17 and 18.

Vana birdied both par-5 holes on the outward nine (six and eight) and added a third birdie on the par-3 12th.

“I drove it really well today,” Vana said. “That was the key. For the most part, I hit it in the fairway all day. The one bad shot, I ended up hitting it close with one of my wedges from the woods. There are monster trees out there. We have a lot of trees [in Massachusetts], but not like these [tall firs]. The course is great. The greens are fabulous. Today, I was just happy I was driving it in play. I wish I hit my wedges a little bit better, but I’m happy.”

Wilson, who joined Marvin “Vinny” Giles III as the only players to have earned low-amateur honors in a U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open, got to 4-under par before consecutive bogeys on 16 and 17. He then birdied the 18th hole to post his 69.

Defending champion Sean Knapp, 56, of Oakmont, Pa., carded a 3-over-par 75. Two-time champion Paul Simson, 67, of Raleigh, N.C., was the only past winner to post an under-par round, carding a 1-under 71.

Results: U.S. Senior Amateur
WinCAJeff WilsonFairfield, CA2000
Runner-upPASean KnappOakmont, PA1500
SemifinalsIAMike McCoyW. Des Moines, IA1000
SemifinalsPAChip LutzReading, PA1000
QuarterfinalsFLJerry RoseSarasota, FL700

View full results for U.S. Senior Amateur

ABOUT THE U.S. Senior Amateur

The USGA Senior Amateur is open to those with a USGA Handicap Index of 7.4 or lower, who are 55 or older on or before the day the championship begins. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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