2008 Champion Buddy Marucci (L) and Keith Decker played
a back-and-forth match that went to the 18th (USGA photo)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (August 28, 2017) - 32 players remain at the 63rd U.S. Senior Amateur Championship
after the completion of first-round matches at the Minikahda Club.
Among those advancing to the second round of match play are the defending champion and last year's runner-up, the stroke play medalist, and three other U.S. Senior past champions. Two other past champions were eliminated on Monday.
Related: Brown is U.S. Senior Am Medalist as 12-for-7 Playoff Looms
Related: U.S. Senior Amateur: Difficult Scoring in a Wet 1st Round
Related: TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: U.S. Senior Amateur Live Updates
As the day began, 69 players were still in the tournament, which required a 12-for-7 playoff to determine the 64-man match play bracket.
The 12-for-7 playoff teed off at just after 7:00am Monday morning, with players going off in three foursomes off of the 423-yard par-four 10th hole at The Minikahda Club. In the first group, Gordon Marshall, Dave Szewczul, and Jay Sessa made pars while Rusty Brown made bogey. In the second group, Bryan Norton and Robert Johnson made par while William Charpek and Reid Sheftall made bogey. In the the third group, Michael Rowley, Craig Steinberg and Scott Smith made par while Keith Holmes made a bogey.
Since 8 players made par, the 4 who made bogey were eliminated and the 8 went on to the 180-yard par-three 11th hole. Sessa, Rowley, Norton and Steinberg all made par, while Marshall, Szewczul and Smith all made bogey. When Johnson made a double-bogey five, he was eliminated and the other 7 advanced to the match play round.
The Final Two from 2016 Move On
Matt Sughrue has played well for
three straight days (USGA photo)
In last year's championship
at Old Warson in St. Louis, Dave Ryan
(Taylorsville, IL) defeated Matt Sughrue
(Arlington, VA), 2 up.
Both players won their first round matches Monday, as Ryan won a tight match with Michael Rowley
(San Luis Obispo, CA) 1 up, and Sughrue beat Dave Szewczul
(Farmington, CT) 3&1.
Ryan trailed at the turn by one hole, then won 10 and 11 to go one up. After Rowley squared the match at the par-five 15th, Ryan regained the lead when Rowley bogeyed the 16th, then parred in to win the match.
Sughrue and Szewczul had a topsy-turvy match that saw only four halved holes of the seventeen they played. Through ten holes, each player had won four holes to keep the match all square, but Sughrue ran off three straight wins by going birdie-eagle-birdie at 11 through 13, highlighted by an eagle two at the short par-four 12th. Another birdie on the 17th closed out the match. Sughrue's equivalent medal play score would have been three under par.
In any match play championship, a rematch of the previous year's finalists is incredibly unlikely, but it is still possible this year, as Ryan and Sughrue are in opposite sides of the match play bracket.
The Stroke Play Medalist Advances
of Ligonier, PA, the stroke play medalist who topped the field by two shots with a 6-under 138, is on the Round of 32 with a 3&2 win over Scott Smith
of Houston, TX.
After halving the first five holes, Smith took three of the next four to take a 2 up lead at the turn. But from there it was all Brown, as he won five of the next seven holes, all with pars, to close out the match.
Brown's opponent in the second round will be John McClure
of Austin, TX, who knocked off Robert Polk
of Parker, CO 4&3. Polk had made news before the tournament by getting in as an alternate
upon the withdrawal of John Olive
(Colorado Springs, CO), six years after getting into the 2011 championship upon Olive's withdrawal.
Past Champions Go 4-2
In addition to Ryan, three other past champions advanced to the second round. Paul Simson
(2010 and 2012) of Raleigh, NC beat Jay Sessa
of Garden City, NY 1 up, while Chip Lutz
(2015) defeated David Nelson
of Reno, NV by the same 1 up margin. Doug Hanzel
had an easier time Monday, winning his match 5&3 over Michael Dunsmore
of Poughkeepsie, NY.
Two other past champions weren't so fortunate. The 2008 champion George "Buddy" Marucci
, Jr. fell to Keith Decker
of Martinsville, VA 1 up in a match that he led by three holes early on. Patrick Tallent
(2014) was also eliminated, losing 6&4 to Gene Elliott
of W. Des Moines, IA as Elliott played the equivalent of a four-under-par round.
Two past U.S. Mid-Amateur champions were also knocked out on Monday. Tim Jackson
(Germantown, TN), the 1994 and 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and two-time Walker Cupper, fell 2&1 to Bryan Norton
of Mission Hills, KS who has twice been a USGA runner-up (2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur and 2014 U.S. Senior Amateur). Norton advanced from the 12-for-7 early Monday before taking on Jackson.
, the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who at 64 was the oldest player to qualify for the U.S. Amateur this year, was taken out by fellow New Yorker Ned Zachar
, who won the last three holes to take the match 2 up.
What Lies Ahead
From here the pace of the tournament quickens, as two rounds of match play is schedule for both Tuesday and Wednesday.
The field will be cut from 32 to 8 by the end of the day Tuesday, as the Round of 32 begins at 7:00am local time, and the afternoon Round of 16 starts upon completion of the morning matches.
On Wednesday, the field will be cut to the final four and then to the final two players who will play an eighteen hole match on Thursday morning for the championship.