Fort Worth, Texas (Sept. 24, 2008) – George “Buddy” Marucci and George Zahringer each won a pair of matches Wednesday and will meet in the scheduled 18-hole final Thursday morning at the USGA Senior Amateur Championship, which is being contested at the 6,679-yard, par-71 Shady Oaks Country Club.
In the first of two semifinal matches, the 55-year-old Zahringer of New York, N.Y., parred the 18th hole to win 1 up over Randy Nichols, 55, of Connersville, Ind. Nichols missed the green with his second shot on the par 4 and chipped to within 12 feet, but missed the putt. Zahringer had already been conceded a par when his birdie bid came up just short.
“My first goal this week was to try and make the semifinals so that I earned an exemption into next year’s U.S. Senior Open,” said Zahringer, who was granted a special exemption into this championship by the USGA. “The key shot this afternoon was a great, cut 7-iron approach shot I hit into the 18th hole. I thought Randy would make that par putt, but it just slid by.”
Earlier in the day, Zahringer, the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, erased Joe Keller’s 4-up lead after nine holes, by birdieing five of the first six holes on the second nine to win, 2 and 1.
In the second semifinal, Marucci, 56, of Villanova, Pa., held on to beat Frank Ford III, 56, of Charleston, S.C., 2 up. With a slim 1-up lead on the 18th fairway, Marucci knocked an 8-iron approach to within 3 feet of the hole from 148 yards out. When Ford’s 25-foot birdie attempt missed, he conceded Marucci’s birdie to close out the match.
“It’s good to be nervous again, and hit some great shots under pressure,” said Marucci. “The key to match play is that you can’t be afraid to lose. But this is a big deal, and I’m excited about having a chance to win a national championship. It would be a dream come true.”
Thursday’s final match will be Marucci’s second attempt at winning a USGA championship, following his appearance 13 years ago at the 1995 U.S. Amateur, where he lost to Tiger Woods, 2 down at Newport Country Club in Newport, R.I.
Marucci eliminated 17-time Shady Oaks club champion John Grace, 60, of Fort Worth, 3 and 2, in the quarterfinals.
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.
Fort Worth, Texas – Results following Wednesday’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play at the 2008 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at the 6,679-yard, par-71 Shady Oaks Country Club:
Randy Nichols, Connersville, Ind. (150) def. John Pallin, Kenosha, Wis. (150), 4 and 3
George Zahringer, New York, N.Y. (151) def. Joseph Keller, Osterville, Mass. (149), 2 and 1
Frank Ford III, Charleston, S.C. (152) def. Vinny Giles, Richmond, Va. (146), 1 up
George Marucci Jr., Villanova, Pa. (143) def. John Grace, Fort Worth, Texas (145), 3 and 2
Zahringer def. Nichols, 1 up
Marucci def. Ford III, 2 up