CASHIERS, N.C. – Doug Hanzel, 56, of
Savannah, Ga., defeated Pat O’Donnell, 59, of
Happy Valley, Ore., 3 and 2, on Thursday to
win the 59th USGA Senior Amateur
Championship at the par-72, 6,842-yard Wade
Hampton Golf Club.
Earlier in the day, Hanzel defeated medalist
Chip Lutz, 58, of Reading, Pa., 3 and 2, to
secure his spot in the finals. O’Donnell
defeated Buzz Fly, 58, of Memphis, Tenn., 2
and 1, in the other semifinal match.
The semifinals were pushed to Thursday
morning due to Wednesday’s 4-hour, 15-
minute weather delay and late-afternoon fog.
It was the first time since 2002 that the
semifinals and finals were contested on the
The USGA Senior Amateur, for players 55 and
older, is one of 13 national championships
conducted annually by the United States Golf
Association, 10 of which are strictly for
amateurs. The 156-player field went through
36 holes of stroke-play qualifying, and a field
of 64 contested six rounds of match play to
determine a champion.
The championship matchup was not the
finalists’ first encounter; they squared off last
year in the Senior Amateur quarterfinals at
Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell,
N.J., with Hanzel prevailing, 3 and 1.
“I’m dumbfounded,” said Hanzel, who claimed
his first national championship in 20 USGA
appearances. “Really, I couldn’t say I
envisioned myself being a USGA champion.
It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Hanzel, the low amateur at the last two U.S.
Senior Opens, began the final match by
winning Nos. 2 and 3, before O’Donnell took
the fourth hole with a birdie 4. Hanzel
regained his 2-up advantage by holing a 4-foot
birdie on the seventh hole. He upped his
advantage to 3 up with a par at the 10th.
Hanzel’s lone blip came at No. 12 when he
three-putted for bogey.
For the round, Hanzel was one under par, with
the usual match-play concessions.
If there was a defining moment in the match,
it came at the par-4 15th, where Hanzel drove
his ball into dense pine straw to the left of the
fairway. He recovered by hitting a 5-iron shot
under the tree limbs to within 10 feet of the
flagstick. After O’Donnell missed a 3-foot par
putt, Hanzel holed his 2-footer for par to go
“It was obviously a phenomenal shot,” said
Hanzel. “I was guessing a little on the yardage
because there were no sprinkler [heads] over
there. It's a little uphill. I hit a 7‑iron from a
few yards up further [in my semifinal match].
So I figured … I needed probably two more
“I hit, I would say, a three‑quarter shot,
almost a full shot. I just hit it perfect.”
Hanzel followed his outstanding shot on No. 15
with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to
close out the match.
“Give me a chance,” joked O’Donnell, who had
knocked his approach to 10 feet. “C’mon,
Doug. You’re killing me.”
O’Donnell, who played 2-under-par golf in his
morning semifinal win, was pleased with his
showing. It was his first USGA final in four
Senior Amateur appearances.
“You dream about doing it, but you don’t think
you can go that far,” said O’Donnell, a
maintenance analyst for Boeing. “It was a lot
of fun. It was quite a thrill. I felt comfortable
Hanzel, the only player in USGA history to
make match play in the U.S. Amateur, U.S.
Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur in the same
year (2012), drew upon his recent USGA
championship experience, especially in his
semifinal win over Lutz, who was vying to
become the first medalist to win the Senior
Amateur in 26 years.
“It definitely helped,” said Hanzel, the 2012
Georgia State Senior Amateur champion. “If
you don't make any birdies, you don't win any
“So I think the match play, particularly last
year's Senior Amateur match play, I made it
to the semis. I got pretty far. I kind of know
how aggressive to be at times. So I think,
yeah, the more you play match play the better
you're going to be at it.”
As champion, Hanzel received a gold medal
and custody of the Senior Amateur
Championship Trophy for one year. He also
receives a 10-year Senior Amateur
exemption, a two-year exemption into the
U.S. Amateur (2014 and 2015) and U.S. Mid-
Amateur (2013 and 2014), and an exemption
from local qualifying for next year’s U.S.
Both finalists are exempt into the 2014 U.S.
Senior Open at Oak Tree National in Edmond,
Okla., though Hanzel had already secured a
spot for being the low amateur in this year’s
championship at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club.
O’Donnell received an exemption into next
week’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, plus a three-year
exemption to the Senior Amateur and an
exemption into the 2014 U.S. Amateur.
“Your goal is to win the best tournaments,”
said Hanzel. “For a senior, to me, this is the