Chicago – Four past USGA champions advanced to the quarterfinal round of the 2009 USGA Senior Amateur at Beverly Country Club by winning a pair of matches Tuesday on the 6,672-yard, par-71 Donald Ross layout.
Sixty-two-year-old Mike Bell of Indianapolis, Ind.; Mark Bemowski, 63, of Mukwonago, Wis.; Vinny Giles of Richmond, Va.; and Greg Reynolds, 62, of Grand Blanc, Mich., all survived closes matches to move on.
Also pressing forward on a sunny day in the Windy City were William Doughtie, 56, of Amarillo, Texas; John Grace, 61, of Fort Worth, Texas; John Pallin of Kenosha, Wis.; and Michael Walters, 61, of Tampa, Fla.
Reynolds (2002 Senior Amateur winner) outlasted 62-year-old Robert Morris of Great Falls, Va., to easily cap off the day’s most peculiar ending. Morris was forced to concede the match in the 18th fairway when he lost his ball, giving Reynolds the 1-up victory.
“I hate to say I won that way, but you’ll take ‘em any way you can get ‘em,” said Reynolds, a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.
In the nip-and-tuck clash, Morris squared the match on No. 17 with a par. With 140 yards to the 18th hole, a 567-yard par 5, Morris took a full swing and the ball struck a tree. Five people valiantly searched for the ball to no avail. Finally after the allotted five minutes were up, Morris took off his hat and congratulated Reynolds.
“It’s been a good run,” said Morris smiling. “We battled hard. … It’ll look better on the scorecard that he eagled.”
In the heavyweight matchup of the day, Bell jokingly collapsed in a chair after holding off 2007 winner Stan Lee of Heber Springs, Ark., 1 up. Bell, who won the 2006 Senior Amateur as a last-minute alternate at Victoria National Golf Club and didn’t take up competitive golf until his early 50s, needed to tap in a 2-footer to save par on No. 18. More important, he gained the win when Lee couldn’t get up and down from the left greenside rough.
“Stan’s one of the best players in senior golf,” said Bell. “He wears you out. The holes were tough. It was fun.”
At 66, Giles is the oldest contestant left. He cooled off co-medalist Paul Simson, 58, of Raleigh, N.C., 2 and 1. The 1972 U.S. Amateur champion played keep away from the second hole on; Simson never led. For Giles, it was a simple case of staying focused and consistent.
Giles, who defeated local favorite Tom Studer of nearby Joliet in the second round Tuesday morning, put the clamps on the match by going 3 up on No. 15 with a birdie. With 148 yards to the flagstick, Giles stuck his approach shot on the short side of hole, leaving an 8-foot birdie attempt on the sloping green. Simson drove into the rough, then a greenside bunker and couldn’t get up and down. Giles halved the 17th with a bogey to close out the match. Simson needed to hole out from 50 feet away off the back fringe.
“We didn’t make any putts,” said Simson. “That’s the story.”
Said Giles, who has reached the quarterfinals for the third consecutive year: “He normally putts like Houdini. … He didn’t struggle at all. He was misreading. He thinks he’s going to make everything.”
Giles is looking to join William C. Campbell as the only players to have won a U.S. Amateur and USGA Senior Amateur title.
Trailing through the first eight holes, Bemowski squared his match against Jeff Burda, 56, of Modesto, Calif., with a birdie on No. 9. Burda then hit a string of poor shots, according to Bemowski, which allowed the 2004 Senior Amateur winner to take charge. Bemowski won the 12th, 13th and 14th holes with pars to forge a 3-up cushion before finally winning 2 up.
“When I was 3 up,” said Bemowski, “I felt like I was done, and I shouldn’t have done that.”
Doughtie didn’t experience the same feeling in his 1-up triumph over 55-year-old Pat O’Donnell of Happy Valley, Ore. In fact, he never held the lead at any moment until it mattered most on the 18th green. He birdied the 17th hole to square things, sticking a 3-iron to 2 feet. “It was a miracle shot,” said Doughtie.
He won the 18th with a bogey. O’Donnell laced a stinger right of the green, his ball stopping against the scoreboard platform. After taking relief, he missed his spot, the greenside rough grabbing his ball.
Doughtie was pleased because all the quarterfinalists are exempt into next year’s championship. He’ll face Giles Wednesday morning.
“It’s all a bonus from here,” said Doughtie.
In the other third-round matches, Grace (1974 U.S. Amateur runner-up) knocked off Bill Zylstra, 57, of
Plymouth, Mich., 1 up; Pallin (Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame) defeated Sam Till Jr., 56, of Fort Wayne, Ind., 3 and 2; and Walters took down 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion George Zahringer, 56, of New York, N.Y., 2 and 1. Zahringer was the runner-up to George “Buddy” Marucci at last year’s Senior Amateur.
Play continues with the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds Wednesday, followed by an 18-hole final Thursday.
Story written by Ken Klavon, the USGA’s Editor of Digital Media. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.
Chicago – Results of Tuesday’s second and third rounds of match play in the 55th USGA Senior Amateur at the 6,672-yard, par-71 Beverly Country Club:
Round of 32
Paul Simson, Raleigh, N.C. (140) def. Randy Nichols, Brookville, Ind. (148), 1 up
Marvin Giles III, Richmond, Va. (145) def. Tom Studer, Joliet, Ill. (145), 1 up
William T Doughtie, Amarillo, Texas (143) def. Bill Ploeger, Columbus, Ga. (147), 1 up
Patrick O'Donnell, Happy Valley, Ore. (144) def. Martin West, Rockville, Md. (146), 2 up
John Pallin, Kenosha, Wis. (142) def. Graham Cooke, Canada (147), 5 and 3
Sam Till Jr., Fort Wayne, Ind. (150) def. Weir King, Stuart, Fla. (150), 1 up
George Zahringer, New York, N.Y. (142) def. Neil Spitalny, Chattanooga, Tenn. (148), 1 up
Michael Walters, Tampa, Fla. (144) def. Stephen Bogan, Placentia, Calif. (149), 2 and 1
Robert Morris, Great Falls, Va. (147) def. Kemp Richardson, Laguna Niguel, Calif. (151), 4 and 3
Greg Reynolds, Grand Blanc, Mich. (145) def. Frank Ford III, Charleston, S.C. (145), 1 up
John Grace, Fort Worth, Texas (142) def. Roger Gunderson, Aurora, Colo. (147), 2 up
Bill Zylstra, Plymouth, Mich. (144) def. Douglas Pool, Las Vegas, Nev. (146), 2 up
Mike Bell, Indianapolis, Ind. (141) def. Robert Linn, Enfield, Conn. (148), 3 and 2
Stanford Lee, Heber Springs, Ark. (150) def. Stewart Alexander, Gainesville, Fla. (145), 5 and 4
Jeff Burda, Modesto, Calif. (142) def. Allan Small, Florham Park, N.J. (148), 6 and 5
Mark Bemowski, Mukwonago, Wis. (146) def. Dan Bieber, Alamo, Calif. (144), 1 up
Round of 16
Giles III def. Simson, 2 and 1
Doughtie def. O'Donnell, 1 up
Pallin def. Till Jr., 3 and 2
Walters def. George Zahringer, 2 and 1
Reynolds def. Morris, 1 up
Grace def. Zylstra, 1 up
Bell def. Lee, 1 up
Bemowski def. Burda, 2 up
Chicago – Pairings for Wednesday morning’s quarterfinal round at the 55th USGA Senior Amateur, being held at the 6,672-yard, par-71 Beverly Country Club (All times CDT):
8:30 a.m. -- Marvin Giles III, Richmond, Va. (145) vs. William T. Doughtie, Amarillo, Texas (143)
8:40 a.m. -- John Pallin, Kenosha, Wis. (142) vs. Michael Walters, Tampa, Fla. (144)
8:50 a.m. -- Greg Reynolds, Grand Blanc, Mich. (145) vs. John Grace, Fort Worth, Texas (142)
9 a.m. -- Mike Bell, Indianapolis, Ind. (141) vs. Mark Bemowski, Mukwonago, Wis. (146)