Top amateur golf moments of 2018, No. 15: A long time coming
Jeff Wilson (Photo illustration)
Jeff Wilson (Photo illustration)

At AmateurGolf.com, we admit to loving the amateur sector of this game for the stories, the depth of the players, the remarkable courses, the history of the tournaments and the sheer love of the game displayed by amateur golfers. As 2018 comes to a close, we’ve gathered the year’s best stories for a countdown to the end of the season. Be sure to come back each day to relive the moments that made amateur golf great this year.

Click here to see the whole list as it is revealed

There is a fluidity to Jeff Wilson’s swing and general on-course presence that make it seem as if being one of the top senior amateurs in the world just comes naturally. Raw talent aside, Wilson, 55, loves to work at it. His mornings are reserved for walks with his dog Herman and working on his game. The routine brought his golf to new heights in 2018.

Before this year, Wilson had been the perennial stroke-play guy. But with USGA amateur events always ending in match play, that wasn’t good enough. Wilson was missing his USGA title.

Wilson has been chasing them for five decades – through junior, amateur, mid-amateur and now senior golf. His week at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club in August marked the sixth time he’s been a USGA medalist, and he is one of two competitors to have been low amateur in the U.S. Open (2000) and the U.S. Senior Open (2018). He has advanced to a pair of U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinals (2001 and 2002) and three U.S. Mid-Amateur quarterfinals (2000, 2004 and 2008).

On Aug. 30, playing in the U.S. Senior Amateur for the first time, Wilson finally got over the hump and became a USGA champion. “How is this his first [USGA] win?” runner-up Sean Knapp, also the defending champion, joked after the match. “Anybody that’s played amateur golf at a high level has known Jeff Wilson. He’s a superstar. You did not see a senior golfer out there. You saw one of the best amateur golfers in the country.”

When Wilson reached the second round of match play at the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Charlotte (N.C.) Country Club and faced 2016 Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad, it was Hagestad who perhaps summed him up best. The 27-year-old described the fellow Californian as the “best-kept secret on the west coast, up until like two weeks ago when he won the Senior Am.” Hagestad ultimately defeated Wilson, 3 and 2, in that match.

Wilson stacks up well against professionals, too. He was low amateur and T-31 at this year’s U.S. Senior Open at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. Friend and golf confident Jeff Brehaut, who competes on the Champions Tour, often pairs with his buddy in pro-am best-ball events on the west coast.

“It’s like two pros playing, we have two looks birdies most of the time. He’s a pro, basically,” Brehaut said.

Wilson once was a pro in the early 1990s but has settled back into amateur golf. The Fairfield, Calif., resident builds an event into his schedule only when it fits into what’s going on in the rest of his life. And if he enters, he almost always contends.

“I learned if you’re not 100 percent committed to it, you’re probably not going to play that well,” he said.

Results: U.S. Senior Amateur
WinCAJeff WilsonFairfield, CA2000
Runner-upPASean KnappOakmont, PA1500
SemifinalsIAMike McCoyW. Des Moines, IA1000
SemifinalsPAChip LutzReading, PA1000
QuarterfinalsFLJerry RoseSarasota, FL700

View full results for U.S. Senior Amateur

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 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

View Complete Tournament Information

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