ANDOVER, Kan. (Sept. 3, 2007)-- Stroke-play medalist Steve Bogan, 59, of Placentia, Calif., and four USGA champions led the first-round winners Monday at the 2007 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, being played at the 6,502-yard, par-71 Flint Hills National Golf Club.
Bogan fell behind early against Bill Heldmar, 66, of Tulsa, Okla., when Heldmar birdied the first hole. But Bogan won the next five holes to take control en route to a 6 & 4 victory.
“I made a few birdies early so I got a little breathing space,” said Bogan, whose father Omer won the 1952 U.S. Amateur Public Links. “I was putting pretty good, kind of silly good, there for a minute. My putting has been good all week, and normally that’s pretty shaky. But every now and then, I can get it smoothed out a little bit.”
Four consecutive birdies, starting at the par-4 third hole, gave Bogan a lead he would never relinquish.
Bogan didn’t worry about thoughts of a medalist curse.
“I was more concerned with just not getting too sloppy,” said Bogan. “I felt pretty confident coming in, but you never know with match play.”
Two past USGA Senior Amateur champions advanced: 2002 winner Greg Reynolds, 60, of Grand Blanc, Mich., who won a 1-up decision over Steve Earsley, 59, of Hobe Sound, Fla.; and 2004 champion Mark Bemowski, 61, of Mukwonago, Wis., who earned a 2-up victory over Joe Bartlett, 61, of Lincoln, Vt.
Reynolds struggled in his match against Earsley, shooting the equivalent of 3-over-par with the usual match-play concessions, but earned the victory on the 18th hole when Earsley hit his tee shot into the water hazard and eventually conceded the hole, and the match.
“You can be 8-over-par and somebody wins because nobody’s playing well, and then you go out another time and you can be two or three under par and you can lose,” said Reynolds. “So you have to be a little bit lucky with who you draw and who you play well.”
Joining Reynolds and Bemowski as victorious USGA champions were Bill McDonald, 63, of Troy, Mich., the 1964 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, and Vinny Giles, 64, of Richmond, Va., who needed extra holes to outlast Gene Ryzewicz, 61, of Westport, Conn. Giles, the 1972 U.S. Amateur champion, advanced with a par on the 22nd hole, while McDonald earned a 1-up victory over two-time USA Walker Cupper Marty West, 59, of Rockville, Md.
Paul Simson, 56, of Raleigh, N.C., won the first four holes against 1994 and 1996 winner O. Gordon Brewer, 70, of Pine Valley, N.J., en route to a 5 & 4 victory. Simson was the equivalent of three under par in the match.
“If you don’t make any bogeys and make a few birdies, usually you’re in pretty good shape,” said Simson, the runner-up at last month’s British Mid-Amateur.
Two other past Senior Amateur champions were defeated in first-round action. Thomas Bartolacci, 56, of Washington Crossing, Pa., earned a 2-up victory to eliminate 2001 and 2003 winner Kemp Richardson, 61, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., and David Stanfield, 58, of Lanett, Ala., eliminated 2005 winner Mike Rice, 67, of Houston, Texas, 3 & 2.
The 2007 USGA Senior Amateur continues with the second and third rounds Tuesday. The quarterfinal and semifinal matches will be played Wednesday and the championship concludes with the 18-hole final match Thursday.
--Story written by Beth Murrison, USGA.