RIVER HILLS, Wisc. (Sept. 6, 2008) – Tim Jackson of Germantown, Tenn., showed that he hasn’t forgotten how to go low, even as he is nearing the milestone age of 50 and competing against amateurs nearly half his age.
The 49-year-old Jackson, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, cashed in seven birdies en route to a 5-under-par 65 Saturday at Milwaukee Country Club to hold the early first-day lead. He holds a one-stroke advantage over Scott Fawcett, 35, of Dallas, Texas, who started his round at Milwaukee Country Club with six birdies over his first nine holes before slipping to finish at 66.
Half of the 264-player field will finish later in the afternoon.
Milwaukee Country Club, set at 7,004 yards with a par of 70, is one of two courses being used for the stroke-play portion of the Mid-Amateur, where players must be at least age 25. The other is nearby Brown Deer Park Golf Course, which is set up at 6,728 yards and par 70.
Following 36 holes of stroke play, the field will be trimmed to the low 64 scorers, who will advance to match play. The championship runs through Thursday, with a probable invitation to the 2009 Masters Tournament going to the winner.
“I expect to compete, but you don’t expect to shoot 65 on a USGA setup,” said Jackson, who won the title in 1994 and 2001. “It’s more gratifying when you’re older to play so well. I was pretty steady, and a bit surprised.”
Fawcett, an alternate who was admitted to the field on Wednesday, started his morning round with a championship-record-tying 29 for nine holes.
“I was able to stay in the moment and I wasn’t really thinking about much of anything,” said Fawcett, a reinstated amateur who played professionally on a variety of mini tours for eight years.
“I had a 29 once in a Teardrop Tour event in 1999, and I went on to finish second,” Fawcett added.
Three other golfers were under par in the morning wave, including Gene Elliott, 46, of West Des Moines, Iowa, who had a 68. Davis Boland, 37, of Louisville, Ky., and 31-year-old Tim Mickelson of San Diego, Calif., the younger brother of Tour player Phil Mickelson, shared low honors in the morning at Brown Deer with 69s.
Past champions Danny Green (1999) of Jackson, Tenn., and Nathan Smith (2003) of Pittsburgh, Pa., were among six others who finished at even-par 70.
The Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
--Story by Craig Smith, USGA