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U.S. Senior Open: Strong amateur field to tee it up at Omaha CC
There are 34 amateurs in the 156-player field at this week’s U.S. Senior Open, which gets underway on Thursday at the Omaha Country Club. The 34 amateurs in the field are the most since 2012 and there are 20 or more amateurs competing for the sixth consecutive U.S. Senior Open. Jeff Wilson, who in 2018 was the low amateur in the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Senior Amateur champion, is among this group.

There were 23 amateurs in the 2019 U.S. Senior Open at The Warren Course at Notre Dame. It was the first time since 2003 that no amateur made the 36-hole cut. William C. (Bill) Campbell (1980) and Tim Jackson (2009) are the only amateurs to hold the lead at a U.S. Senior Open through 36 holes.

The USGA accepted 2,999 entries in 2021, the third-highest total in championship history. Chris Germann, a 58-year-old amateur from Austin, Texas, submitted his entry four minutes before the deadline of 5 p.m. EDT on May 12. Doug Clapp, a 54-year-old amateur from Walpole, Mass., was the first entrant on Feb. 24. Clapp has played in 15 USGA Championships and three British Amateurs after the age of 30.

The record for entries is 3,101 in 2002.

The 156-player field includes 74 fully exempt golfers, 10 of whom are U.S. Senior Open champions. Qualifying was played over 18 holes at 34 sites across the United States between May 17 and June 14. There were qualifying sites in 27 states, including five in California, three in Florida and two in Texas.

The USGA accepted entries from golfers in all 50 states, including 22 from host state Nebraska, and the District of Columbia, as well as 41 foreign countries.

Amateurs in the Field
John Bearrie (Marana, Ariz.); Ricky Bell (Norman, Okla.); Buck Brittain (Tazewell, Va.); Dean Channell (Cary, NC); Doug Clapp (Walpole, Mass.); Tim Cobb (St. Augustine, Fla.); Claud Cooper (Birmingham, Ala.); Ken Crawford (Elk Grove, Calif.); Sean Crowley (Littleton, Colo.); Greg Daggett (Monument, Colo.); Keith Decker (Martinsville, Va.); Drew Forrester (Parkville, Md.); Chad Frank (Sanford, Fla.); Robert Funk (Canyon Lake, Calif.); Neal Hendee (Atlanta, Ga.); Tim Hogarth (Northridge, Calif.); Chad Ibbotson (Sanford, Fla.); Mike Ketcham (Oro Valley, Ariz.); Jon Lindstrom (Denver, Colo.); Scott Lorenz (La Canada, Calif.); Brian Lovett (St. Louis, Mo.); Mike McCoy (West Des Moines, Iowa); Billy Mitchell (Atlanta, Ga.); Roger Newsom (Virginia Beach, Va.); Jim Patterson (Southampton, Mass.); Bob Royak (Alpharetta Ga.); Eric Rustand (Tucson, Ariz.); William Smith (Newville, Pa.); Travis Steed (Macon, Ga.); Mark Strickland (Everett, Wash.); Todd White (Spartanburg, S.C.); Jeff Wilson (Fairfield, Calif.).

USGA Amateur Championship Notables
U.S. Amateur champions (4): Billy Mayfair (1987), Mark O’Meara (1979), Sam Randolph (1985) and Scott Verplank (1984)
U.S. Amateur runners-up (1): Sam Randolph (1984)
U.S. Junior Amateur champions (1): Brett Quigley (1987)
U.S. Mid-Amateur champions (1): Michael McCoy (2013)
U.S. Mid-Amateur runners-up (1): Tim Hogarth (2010)
U.S. Senior Amateur champions (2): Bob Royak (2019) and Jeff Wilson (2018)
U.S. Senior Amateur runners-up (1): Roger Newsom (2019)
U.S. Amateur Public Links champions (2): Billy Mayfair (1986) and Tim Hogarth (1996)
U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champions (1): Todd White (2015)

Walker Cup Team Members
United States (8): Billy Andrade (1987), Jay Haas (1975), Billy Mayfair (1987), Michael McCoy (2015), Corey Pavin (1981), Sam Randolph (1985), Scott Verplank (1985) and Todd White (2013).Great Britain & Ireland (2): Roger Chapman (1981) and Colin Montgomerie (1985, ’87)

NCAA Division I champions (2): Jay Haas (1975) and Scott Verplank (1986)

NCAA Division II champions (1): Lee Janzen (1986)

World Amateur Team Championship competitors (9): Stephen Ames (1986, Trinidad & Tobago), Billy Andrade (1986, USA), Markus Brier (1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, Austria), Masahiro Kuramoto (1976, Japan), Colin Montgomerie (19984, 1986, Great Britain & Ireland), Jose Maria Olazabal (1982, 1984, Spain), Jean-Francois Remesy (1986, France), Vijay Singh (1980, Fiji), Scott Verplank (1984, USA)

Who Are These Guys?

George “Buck” Brittain, 54, of Tazewell, Va., is a general district court judge in Virginia’s 29th District. He earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Virginia Tech and a law degree from the University of Richmond prior to serving 18 years as an attorney. Brittain, who competed in the 2012 USGA Men’s State Team Championship, was the Virginia State Golf Association Golfer of the Year in 2018 when he qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur and reached match play in the VSGA Amateur.

Keith Decker, 61, has won 31 Virginia State Association titles and is one of two golfers to ever win the VSGA Amateur, VSGA Mid-Amateur, VSGA Senior Amateur and the VSGA Mid-Senior Amateur. He was elected to the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame in 2017. He is retired from American of Martinsville Furniture Company, the only company he ever worked for after graduating from Elon College in 1983.

Drew Forrester, 58, of Parkville, Md., is the head boys’ golf coach at Calvert Hall College High School. He survived a 3-for-1 playoff by making a birdie on the fourth playoff hole in the Silver Springs, Md., qualifier on June 14. Forrester birdied his final two holes, including hitting a 6-iron to within 6 feet on No. 18, for a 1-under 69 at Argyle Country Club. He then had to wait five hours for the afternoon groups to complete their rounds. Forrester, who accepted his current job in 2010, worked 17 years for a professional soccer organization before transitioning to Baltimore sports talk radio in 2002. Along with his assistant coach Brian Hubbard, Forrester helped raise more than $5,000 in donations and contributions from restaurants during the pandemic. He is now the outreach director for Immaculate Heart Parish, where he distributes food and personal necessities in his hometown.

Robby Funk, 58, was the low amateur in the 2017 U.S. Senior Open, finishing T-54 with a 72-hole score of 8-over-par 288 at Salem Country Club, in Peabody, Mass. His grandfather, John, who was the son of the Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary founder, introduced him to the game. Robby has played in 10 USGA championships, including a tie for 60th in the 2018 U.S. Senior Open. A five-time qualifier for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, Funk is the former winner of the Trans-Miss Amateur (2016) and a two-time winner of the Southern California Mid-Amateur.

Tim Hogarth, 55, won the 1996 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and was the runner-up to Nathan Smith in the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur. He is playing in his fourth U.S. Senior Open and 34th USGA championship. He won four straight Southern California Mid-Am titles from 2007-10 and four consecutive Kelly Cup Invitationals.

Mike Ketcham, 56, of Oro Valley, Ariz., is the University of Arizona’s senior associate athletics director with supervision of the basketball and football programs. He advanced to his first U.S. Senior Open in the Santa Fe, N.M., qualifier. Ketcham was the head men’s golf coach at the University of Arkansas from 2001-06, and guided the Razorbacks to two NCAA Championships appearances. A native of Ottumwa, Iowa, Ketcham also coached at Oregon State, San Jose State and Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College. He played on two Arkansas teams that reached the NCAAs.

Brian Lovett, 51, of St. Louis, Mo., shot 31 on his inward nine in carding a 70 to earn medalist honors in the Fort Wayne, Ind., qualifier on May 20. Lovett, who putts with his right eye closed, made three birdies and an eagle during that stretch, the front nine at Orchard Ridge Country Club, to advance to his first U.S. Senior Open. Lovett, who manages mergers and acquisitions for a holding company, was a wide receiver at Southern Methodist University in 1989-90. His coach was Pro Football Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champion Forrest Gregg.

Mike McCoy, 58, is playing in his eighth U.S. Senior Open. He was the low amateur in 2014 and 2015. McCoy, who has competed in 62 USGA championships, won the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur at the Country Club of Birmingham (Ala.), becoming the second-oldest winner of the championship at age 50. He was a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team and is five-time Iowa Amateur champion.

Billy Mitchell, 55, of Roswell, Ga., is a performance health coach who has trained PGA Tour players Stewart Cink, Roberto Castro and Casey Wittenberg and LPGA Tour players Mariah Stackhouse and Dori Carter. Mitchell, who has also consulted college and high school teams, was one of five players to advance through the Milton, Ga., qualifier. Mitchell, whose father, Lawson, was a longtime club professional, reached the Round of 16 in the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur. He won the 2012 Georgia State Amateur, the 2016 Georgia Senior Open and the Gasparilla Invitational.

Bob Royak, 59, won the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur by defeating Roger Newsom, 1 up, in the final at Old Chatham Golf Club. Royak has competed in 18 USGA championships, including two U.S. Senior Opens (2012, 2019). Royak, who is vice president for an executive search firm, was the 2017 Georgia State Golf Association Senior Player of the Year. He and his wife assist in finding families for Russian orphans.

Todd White, 53, of Spartanburg, S.C., is a history teacher who also coaches the boys’ and girls’ golf teams at Spartanburg High School. The Vikings tied for fourth in the Class 5A boys state championship and the girls finished ninth in the state in 2021. White will compete in his first U.S. Senior Open and 30th USGA championship in Omaha. He and Nathan Smith partnered to win the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2015 at The Olympic Club. White and Smith were members of the victorious 2013 USA Walker Cup Team.

Jeff Wilson, who turned 58 on June 14, tied for 31st in the 2018 U.S. Senior Open, held at The Broadmoor (East Course), in Colorado Springs, Colo. He became the second player to earn low amateur in both the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open in his career, joining Marvin “Vinny” Giles III. Wilson was 59th in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. Wilson, a general sales manager for an automobile dealership, has competed in 37 USGA championships, including five U.S. Senior Opens.

Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com contributed to this report

ABOUT THE U.S. Senior Open

The U.S. Senior Open is one of 14 national championships conducted by the USGA. Open to amateurs and professionals who have reached their 50th birthday as of the first day of the championship.

The Senior Open was first played in 1980 with a purse of, get this, just $100,000. Roberto Vincenzo of Argentina was the inaugural champion (winning $20,000), and Arnold Palmer was a popular winner the following year in 1981 at Oakland Hills.

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