FT. WORTH, Texas (Sept. 23, 2008) – Past U.S. Mid-Amateur George Zahringer, 55, of New York, N.Y., and 1995 U.S. Amateur runner-up George “Buddy” Marucci, 55, of Villanova, Pa., each posted a pair of victories Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals of the USGA Senior Amateur, being contested at the 6,679-yard, par-71 Shady Oaks Country Club.
Another player advancing was former club member John Grace, 60, of Fort Worth, who was a 4 & 3 second-round winner over Bruce Meyer in the morning, and defeated Paul Murphy by the same margin in the afternoon. Grace estimated that he has played the golf course more than 500 times, and even teed it up with the legendary Ben Hogan, who served as the club’s former head professional for many years.
Grace has also won the Shady Oaks stroke play title 17 times, including 11 consecutive years from 1985-95.
“It would be crazy to say that my local knowledge hasn’t helped me this week,” said Grace, a member of the USA’s victorious 1975 Walker Cup Team. “But I’ve been looking forward to this championship for two and half years, and I had to qualify for it just like everybody else. So I feel great about what I’ve done so far.”
All eight quarterfinalists receive exemptions into the 2009 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, to be played at The Beverly Country Club in Chicago.
Zahringer, the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and 2003 USA Walker Cupper, held off Tim Pope, 4 & 2, and then defeated the oldest remaining player in the field, 68-year-old Jerry Cundari, 2 & 1.
“I hit the ball much better today than I did during stroke play,” said Zahringer, who has been practicing heavily during the evenings all week. “I like the fact that I’m striking the ball well, and it’s going where I want it to.”
Marucci escaped with a 1-up victory over John Long, and then prevailed, 3 & 2, over Frank Travetto. Marucci, captain of the 2007 and 2009 USA Walker Cup teams, is better known as one of the three players Tiger Woods defeated in the finals to win his record three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles.
“Match play is never easy, and you always have to play until the very end,” said Marucci. “The nerves aren’t quite as bad as playing in the Amateur, but this is a lot of fun, the guys are great and everybody here is trying to win.”
Vinny Giles, 65, of Richmond, Va., the 1972 U.S. Amateur champion, scored victories over Tom McGraw (2 & 1) and Logan Jackson (1-up) to secure his quarterfinal appearance.
Randy Nichols, 55, of Connersville, Ind., a member of the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame, took three of the final five holes of his third-round afternoon match to win, 1 up, over Dave Denezza. In his morning match, he defeated stroke-play medalist and reigning British Senior Open Amateur champion Paul Simson, 2 & 1.
John Pallin, 55, of Kenosha, Wis., a member of the Wisconsin State Golf Hall of Fame, eliminated defending champion Stan Lee in 19 holes on Monday, and then registered a 5 & 3 win over Howie Knodt Tuesday morning before dismissing Stephen Bell, 4 & 3, in the third round.
Frank Ford III, 56, of Charleston, S.C. – a semifinalist at the USGA Senior Amateur in 2007 and member of the South Carolina State Golf Hall of Fame, defeated Michael Shelton (4 & 3) and Bill Heldmar (2 & 1).
Three-time Massachusetts Mid-Amateur champion Joe Keller, 59, of Osterville, Mass., beat 1991 U.S. Amateur champion Mitch Voges, 5 & 4, before ousting 2007 USGA Senior Amateur runner-up Sam Farlow, 1-up.
The USGA Senior Amateur continues with the quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Wednesday (8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. CDT), and the scheduled 18-hole championship final match, to be played on Thursday starting at 9 a.m.
--Story written by Beth Murrison, USGA