FT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 21, 2008) – Paul Simson, 57, of Raleigh, N.C., earned medalist honors for the second time in three years following the second round of stroke play Sunday at the 2008 USGA Senior Amateur, being played at the par-71, 6,597-yard Shady Oaks Country Club.
Simson posted a 1-under 70 to go with his first-round 71. At 1-under 141, he was the only golfer in the 156-player field to finish stroke play under par, but was nonchalant after his round.
“I hit all 18 greens, and I had 35 putts,” said Simson about his second round. “It could have been better, it could have been worse, but it’s acceptable. Hey, all you want to do is get into match play.”
In 2006, Simson was a co-medalist with Bill Leonard at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind. While earning medalist honors at a USGA event for a third time – he was also a co-medalist at the 2004 Mid-Amateur at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga. – was nice, Simson knows the key to stroke play is learning about the golf course.
“This is a typical USGA course,” said Simson, who last month won his second British Senior Open Amateur Championship in three years. “If you hit the fairways, you’re in pretty good shape. If you miss the fairways, you’re in trouble. It’s a good course for a match-play event. I’m still learning about the greens. I had lots of very, very close putts that could have gone in today. But I’ll work a little bit on the irons this afternoon and get ready to tee it up tomorrow.“
Finishing a stroke behind Simson were Michael Kelly, 56, of Odenton, Md., 1995 U.S. Amateur runner-up Buddy Marucci, 55, of Villanova, Pa., and 1991 U.S. Amateur champion Mitch Voges, 58, of Simi Valley, Calif.
Defending champion Stan Lee, 56, of Heber Springs, Ark., followed his first-round 1-over 72 with a 5-over 76. Although he easily advanced to match play, Lee said he was happy to be done with the stroke-play qualifying rounds.
"I’m relieved to get them over,” said Lee, who is trying to become the first to win consecutive championships since William Campbell won back-to-back Senior Amateurs in 1979-80. “I was really trying too hard today. I played good enough yesterday that I knew I had it made, and that’s a really bad feeling sometimes, because you try to play too conservatively and you end up screwing everything up, which I did.”
Mark Bemowski, 62, of Mukwonago, Wis., a three-time Senior Am finalist who won the title in 2004, safely advanced to match play, as did 1999 winner Bill Ploeger, 68, of Columbus, Ga., and two-time Senior Amateur champion Kemp Richardson, 62, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., who recorded back-to-back 1-under 72s.
“I think I played pretty good,” said Richardson, who won the championship in 2001 and 2003. “I like the course. You’ve just got to keep it in the right place on the greens.”
First-round leader Howie Knodt, 55, of Chula Vista, Calif., followed up his first-round 3-under 68 with a 5-over 76 but still advanced, as did a trio of USGA champions: 1986 U.S. Amateur winner Stewart “Buddy” Alexander, 55, of Gainesville, Fla.; 1972 U.S. Amateur champion Vinny Giles, 65, of Richmond, Va.; and 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur winner George Zahringer, 55, of New York, N.Y.
An 11-for-6 playoff will be held Monday at 8:30 a.m. CDT to determine the final match-play spots. The USGA Senior Amateur continues Monday with the first round of match play. The second and third rounds will be played Tuesday, the quarterfinal and semifinal matches are on Wednesday, and the 18-hole championship final will be played Thursday.
The USGA Senior Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
--Story written by Beth Murrison, USGA