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Bemowski leads USGA Senior Amateur

MANAKIN-SABOT, Va.(Sept. 10, 2011) – Mark Bemowski is no stranger to success at the USGA Senior Amateur Championship. And at age 65, he’s playing better than ever.

The 2004 Senior Amateur champion opened with three birdies on his first five holes en route to carding the day’s only round in the 60s – a 4-under 68 at the 6,829- yard, par-72 Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin- Sabot, Va. 

After Saturday’s first round of stroke-play qualifying, Bemowski, of Mukwonago, Wis., leads by two strokes over a quartet of golfers: Paul Murphy, 60, of Arlington, Mass.; Rick Woulfe, 61, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and a pair of Pennsylvanians, Chip Lutz, 56, of Reading, and Raymond Thompson, 59, of Drexel Hill.

“It’s great to start out with a good round,” said Bemowski. “I struck the ball really well today. Hopefully that’s a sign of more good things to come.”

Though Bemowski was pleased with his start, he acknowledged that shooting a low qualifying score doesn’t necessarily translate into a championship title.

“It really doesn’t mean a thing until you get into match play. But it’s nice to have a little momentum and feel like you’re playing pretty well. If I keep playing like I am now, I’ll be very competitive.”

In addition to winning the 2004 Senior Amateur, Bemowski finished runner-up in 2002 and 2005 and was a semifinalist in 2009.

Lutz, who advanced to the semifinals of the 2010 championship, is looking to continue his phenomenal summer of 2011. After winning the Canadian Men's Senior Championship and the British Seniors Open Amateur Championship earlier this season, he comes to Kinloch attempting to equal the feat of Paul Simson, who won both those championships as well as the USGA Senior Amateur in 2010.

Lutz played a steady round, making just one bogey in his pursuit of the Senior Amateur title in his home country. After an even-par outward nine, Lutz birdied both par-5s coming in to post a 2-under 70.

“The course was very soft – balls were backing up with the driver – but the greens were still very fast, so sometimes you become tentative,” said Lutz. “Starting out I hit the ball past the hole a few times but was able to navigate some tricky comeback putts. I can only imagine when these things dry out, they’ll be another foot or two faster which could make things really interesting.”

That the course was even playable on Saturday is a testament to the hard work and preparation by Golf Course Manager Peter Wendt and his staff at Kinloch.

The Richmond region absorbed more than 6 inches of rain between Tuesday and Thursday from Tropical Storm Lee, in addition to the more-than 5 inches that fell from Hurricane Irene the previous week. The 11-plus inches of rain that has soaked the Richmond area is nearly three times the average rainfall for the area for the entire month of September (3.98 inches, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Defending champion Simson, 60, of Raleigh, N.C., made two birdies and one bogey in an unspectacular, but solid 1-under 71. Simson is trying to become the first player to successfully defend his title since William C. Campbell in 1980.

In addition to Bemowski and Simson, there were seven other former Senior Amateur champions in the field: Mike Rice (2005 winner, 73), George “Buddy” Marucci (2008 winner, 73), Mike Bell (2006 winner, 75), Marvin “Vinny” Giles III (2009 winner, 75), Stan Lee (2007 winner, 77), Greg Reynolds (2002 winner, 78) and Kemp Richardson (2001 and 2003 winner, 80).

Former USGA president and current chairman of The Masters Competition Committee, Fred Ridley, shot an even-par 72 on Saturday. It was Ridley’s first USGA championship since 1988. His lone USGA title, the 1975 U.S. Amateur, came just six miles up the road from Kinloch at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond.

Cy Kilgore, 58, of Beverly, Mass., recorded a hole-in-one on the 185-yard, par-3 5th using a 3-hybrid. It is believed to be the 16th ace in USGA Senior Amateur history.

On Sunday, the golfers will compete in the second round of stroke-play qualifying. The field will then be cut to the low 64 scorers for match play, which begins Monday. The final five rounds of match play will be played over the next three days, with the championship scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final on Thursday.

Chip Lutz is attempting to follow in Paul Simson’s footsteps by winning the Canadian Men’s Senior, British Seniors Open Amateur and USGA Senior Amateur Championships in the same year. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)

 

The USGA Senior Amateur, open to golfers 55 and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

ABOUT THE U.S. Senior Amateur

The USGA Senior Amateur is open to those with a USGA Handicap Index of 7.4 or lower, who are 55 or older on or before the day the championship begins. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

View Complete Tournament Information

Results For U.S. Senior Amateur Golf Championship
Place  Pts
WinARLouis LeeHerber Springs, AR2000
Runner-upNHPhilip PleatNashua, NH1500
SemifinalsPAChip LutzReading, PA1000
SemifinalsTXTom DoughtieAmarillo, TX1000
QuarterfinalsNCPaul SimsonRaleigh, NC700

View full results for U.S. Senior Amateur Golf Championship

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