LAKE ORION, Mich. (July 15, 2012) -- Doug Hanzel has been scaling back his work schedule as a lung specialist, but that just means he has a little more time for golf.
Good thing, because after completing the 33rd U.S. Senior Open as the low amateur, he has earned a few more championship berths.
With a closing 5-over 75 Sunday at Indianwood Golf and Country Club Hanzel, 55, of Savannah, Ga., finished in a tie for 53rd place at 9-over 289. That was three strokes better than Sean Knapp of Oakmont, Pa., who shot 74-292.
Hanzel and Knapp were the only two amateurs to make the cut out of 35 who began the championship.
Finishing as low amateur gives Hanzel, a 10-time U.S. Amateur participant and a member at The Landings in Savannah, an automatic berth into the USGA Senior Amateur later this year at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J. He also earns an invitation to next year’s U.S. Senior Open at Omaha Country Club in Omaha, Neb.
“I played last year, and I missed the cut by two. And I know low amateur gets an invitation back,” said Hanzel, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, who warmed up for Indianwood by stopping at his alma mater, Kent State, for practice. “The thing I didn't know is making the cut, posting four rounds, gets me into the Senior Amateur, which is good because I was just about ready to send in my application for qualifying. This is a big relief.”
Hanzel, a former Ohio high school state champion, said he would have no problem rearranging his schedule for more competition.
“I'm pretty much an office practice now,” he said. “I have a great group of guys that help cover for me. My schedule is a little freer. I'm to the point where I need to slow down. My kids are kind of out of the house, and I can slow down a little bit.”
And tee it up more.
Call Him Mr. Weekend
Tom Watson completed his 12th U.S. Senior Open on a high note, breaking par for the first time with a 1-under-par 69 that left him at 281 for the championship.
Watson, 62, finished in a tie for 21st place, the 11th time he has finished in the top 25. He has yet to miss the cut, though he still is searching for a U.S. Senior Open title to add to his 1982 U.S. Open crown.
"It was a good way to finish," Watson said before departing for England and the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. "I'm getting my game and my body back in shape, but very slowly."
Watson said he enjoyed the Michigan crowds and the layout. As a youngster, Watson used to visit the Upper Peninsula during the summer with his family.
"I think the crowds mirrored the fact that people really love the game of golf up here in Michigan," he said. "They came out. There are a lot of people out there watching us at Indianwood. The course is certainly a difficult golf course. It stood up to the championship test."
Lance Ten Broeck is returning to the U.S. Senior Open in 2013, having earned an invitation by finishing tied for ninth place.
Ten Broeck, 56, who has both caddied and competed on the PGA Tour, closed with a 1-over 71 and a 3-under 277 total in his first appearance in the national championship and just his second tournament this year.
"I thought I played really well, except for I didn't putt well at all the whole week. Average, at best, I'd say. I struggled all four days putting," said Ten Broeck, of Singer Island, Fla., who has played professional golf since 1977. "Great week, no doubt about it. So I get back next year, too."
Son’s Tip Pays Off
Mark Wiebe got a long-distance tip from his son, Gunnar, to help him with his short game before Sunday's final round, and it paid off with a 2-under 68 that lifted Wiebe into eighth place at 5-under 275.
Wiebe sent video to his son, who acts as his coach. The elder Wiebe also is his son's coach.
"Oh my gosh, he told me so many things that I was doing wrong and try to remedy it," said Wiebe, 54, of Denver. "Hold still, line up the ball in the middle of the club. I was too far open, and it was kind of cutting across it, and I was taking it inside because I was shut. So I had to feel like the clubface was open, like I was taking it outside, like I had it lined up on the heel, and it was hard. That was hard today.
"But I did it, so that's good. I played well. My ball-striking definitely was the highlight of my week.'”