Oakland Hills member Tom Gieselman had
the largest following on Tuesday (Jeff Haynes/USGA)
Following the round of 32 matches in the morning which saw five single-digit seeds and the defending champion go down in defeat, eight players remain in contention for the U.S. Senior Amateur championship at the Country Club of Detroit.
Chip Lutz (2) and Jerry Gunthorpe (9) are the only single-digit seeds remaining in the tournament following the round of 16 matches, where only three contests reached the 18th hole in a relatively drama-free afternoon in Grosse Point Farms, Mich.
Lutz, the 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur champion and three-time AmateurGolf.com Senior Player of the Year, is onto the quarterfinals after taking out Eddie Hargett (50), 3 and 2 while Gunthorpe is also through to the quarters with a 4 and 3 win over Jim Scorse. Dave Bunker (20), Billy Mitchell (44) and Craig Davis (58) also advanced with convincing victories.
Lutz, playing remarkable golf at the age of 66, will take on a familiar face in Wednesday’s quarterfinals: 2019 British Senior Amateur champion Craig Davis, of Chula Vista, Calif. Davis, who defeated Lewis Stephenson, of Mansfield, Texas, 3 and 2, in the Round of 16 on Tuesday, lost to Lutz in the 2018 quarterfinals at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club, 1 up.
“I try not to pay too much attention [to the other results] because everybody is a good player at this level,” said Lutz, who upped his Senior Amateur match-play record to 28-9. “I try not to think about mapping [my bracket] out or seeing who is in front of you because things change so quickly.”
Most of the white-knuckling was contained to three matches which all reached the 18th hole and beyond.
It took a 21-hole rollercoaster ride for Rusty Strawn to dispatch of Jim Lehman in a back-and-forth affair. Strawn, ranked second behind Elliott in the 2021 AmateurGolf.com Senior Player-of-the-Year points race, got off to a fast start and gained a 2 up advantage after just three holes. Lehman squared the match with wins on holes 7 and 9 and then took a 2 up lead after winning holes 15 and 16. Staring elimination in the face, Strawn evened the match with wins on 17 and 18 and then took the match in the 21st hole, the par-5 third, with a 15-foot birdie putt.
The match between Tom Gieselman and Joe Jaspers provided plenty of late fireworks. Gieselman, a member at nearby Oakland Hills Country Club, took a 1 up lead with a birdie on the par-4 13th and after the players halved the next three holes, Jaspers drew even with a birdie on the par-5 17th. Gieselman took advantage of Jasper's misfortune to win the match on the 18th hole with a par.
No one had a longer day than the world's top-ranked senior amateur, Gene Elliott, who defeated his good friend and fellow Iowan Mike McCoy, the former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, in 19 holes to advance to the round of 16 against another USGA champion - 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur champion and four-time AmateurGolf.com Senior Player-of-the-Year, Doug Hanzel.
In a match between two decorated champions, Elliott, who has wins at the Canadian and British Senior Amateurs this season, defeated Hanzel, 1 up in a match that was never separated by more than one hole. Hanzel, who sports a 22-7 match play record in eight starts at the U.S. Senior Amateur, took a 1 up lead with wins on holes 9 and 10 only to see Elliott bounce back to claim holes 11 and 13 for a 1 up lead. The two golfers halved the last five holes with pars and shook hands on the 18th, with Elliott advancing to the quarterfinals.
“Mike McCoy is tough as nails and so is Doug Hanzel,” said Elliott. “You just have to get some breaks. I made some mistakes, they made some mistakes. I thought I was toast on 18 against Mike. It was a long day, but a great day.”
The championship continues on Wednesday with the quarterfinal and semifinal matches, beginning at 8 a.m. EDT and 1:30 p.m., respectively. Thursday’s 18-hole championship match is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.
8:00 am -- Rusty Strawn vs. Jerry Gunthorpe
8:15 am -- Dave Bunker vs. Billy Mitchell
8:30 am -- Chip Lutz vs. Craig Davis
8:45 am -- Tom Gieselman vs. Gene Elliott
The USGA contributed to this report
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.
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