ROCKY FACE, GA (September 21, 2005) -- Bemowski, 59, is vying to become the first player in 25 years to defend the title since Bill Campbell won in 1980 after winning in 1979.
"It’s a real privilege,” Bemowski said of defending the title. “I’m happy about that.”
En route to his third Senior Amateur final, Bemowski defeated 2002 champion Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc, Mich., 2 and 1, in the quarterfinals and 2005 British Senior Amateur champion Alan Foster of Manlius, N.Y., 3 and 2, in the semifinals.
"I feel honored to win that bracket,” said Bemowski, a corporate promotional sales specialist. “It’s like winning a championship.”
Bemowski was the equivalent of 2-under-par in his match with Foster, gaining a 4-up edge through 12 holes. Foster then birdied the 13th and 14th, but Bemowski rebounded with a winning birdie on the 15th that moved him to 3 up.
Bemowski’s match play mark at the championship now stands at 19-3.
In a match-up of 65-year-olds, Rice, a retired insurance executive, shrugged off a shoulder injury suffered on the 17th hole of his quarterfinal match to de-rail Jack Vardaman of Washington, D.C., 8 and 6, in the semifinals. Earlier, Rice, who is playing in his sixth Senior Amateur, bumped Gayle Sanchez, a dentist from Baton Rouge, La., 3 and 1, in the quarterfinals.
"It’s sore,” Rice said of his shoulder. “I can’t finish (my swing). Maybe I’ll play like that all the time.”
Rice, who advanced to the final 16 in 2002, built a 5-up lead through nine holes and then won three consecutive holes to close out Vardaman.
"It shows us old folks can hit it halfway decent every now and then,” said Rice, a former SMU football player. “Everybody has a dream of winning a USGA national title. You can’t win one unless you go out and get in the final.”
In the other quarterfinals, Vardaman, a past member of the USGA Executive Committee and a quarterfinalist in 2004, beat Randy Reifers of Columbus, Ohio, 3 and 2; and Foster defeated Bob Mielcarz of Concord, N.H., 1 up.
All quarterfinalists are exempt from having to qualify for the 2006 championship at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind. Semifinalists are exempt from having to qualify for the 2006 U.S. Senior Open at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
The final round on Thursday starts at 9 a.m. The winner receives a gold medal, custody of the Frederick L. Dold Trophy for the ensuing year and an exemption into the next five Senior Amateurs.
Rocky Face, Ga. – Results from Wednesday’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play at the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at 6,763-yard, par 72 The Farm Golf Club:
Jack Vardaman, Washington, D.C. (145) def. Randy Reifers, Columbus, Ohio (142), 3 and 2
Mike Rice, Houston, Texas (140) def. Gayle Sanchez, Baton Rouge, La. (150), 3 and 1
Alan Foster, Manlius, N.Y. (138) def. Robert Mielcarz, Concord, N.H. (143), 1 up
Mark Bemowski, Mukwonago, Wis. (139) def. Greg Reynolds, Grand Blanc, Mich. (144), 2 and 1
Rice def. Vardaman, 8 and 6
Bemowski def. Foster, 3 and 2
Rocky Face, Ga. – Pairing for Thursday’s 18-hole final match at the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at 6,763-yard, par 72 The Farm Golf Club: (EDT)
9 a.m. – Mike Rice, Houston, Texas, (140) vs. Mark Bemowski, Mukwonago, Wis., (139)