ANDOVER, Kan. (Sept. 5, 2007)-- Sam Farlow, 60, of Birmingham, Ala., and Stanford Lee, 55, of Heber Springs, Ark., both won two matches Wednesday to advance to the championship final of the 2007 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, being played at the 6,502-yard, par-71 Flint Hills National Golf Club.
It will be the first USGA championship final for both players, and a match-up of former PGA Tour players.
Lee never trailed in his semi-final match against Stu Grendahl, 56, of Mcfarland, Wis., winning the first hole with a par. Lee won four holes in a five-hole stretch, starting at the par-4 sixth, to take control of the match en route to a 4 & 3 victory.
Birdies on the eighth, ninth and 10th holes were pivotal for Lee, who finished the equivalent of 3-under-par, counting the usual match-play concessions.
“That’s about as good as I can play,” said Lee, who played on the PGA Tour from 1976-1980 and who now works in banking, of his birdie stretch.
Despite his fine play in the championship to date, Lee seemed surprised to have advanced so far.
“I honestly cannot believe I’m in the finals,” said Lee. “But I believe if I continue to play the way I’m playing I have a good chance to win it. I know I’m going to have to play extremely well.”
For Grendahl, it was a disappointing end to an impressive run in his first appearance in a USGA championship.
“I did the things you cannot do and win,” said Grendahl, who was 2-over-par against Lee. “I just didn’t hit it real well.”
Farlow and Frank Ford III, 55, of Charleston, S.C., also struggled a bit in their semi-final match. Farlow was the equivalent of eight over par, while Ford was 11-over-par.
“When I hit some of these shots out here today, I realized why I don’t play for a living anymore,” said Farlow, who played on the Tour in 1974 and parts of 1976 and 1977 and now sells cardiovascular medical equipment.
But he would never relinquish the lead he took with a par on the second hole. Farlow increased his lead to 3-up after seven holes and eventually earned a 2-&-1 victory.
The win puts Farlow, who lost to eventual champion Mike Bell in the semifinals a year ago, one step from his first national title.
“It’s an honor,” he said of playing in the championship’s final match. “I can’t believe I’m in the final. I feel like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and it’s going to be a dream.”
Ford, who was playing in his first Senior Amateur, knew he missed some opportunities during the match.
“He gave me some openings but I just couldn’t take advantage of it,” said Ford. “I didn’t hit the ball well. I knew what I needed to do, I just couldn’t do it.”
By advancing to the semi-finals, all four players earn an exemption from sectional qualifying into the 2008 U.S. Senior Open, providing they remain amateur.
The 2007 USGA Senior Amateur Championship concludes with Thursday’s 18-hole final match.
--Story written by Beth Murrison, USGA