Brent Paterson is bidding to become the first Kiwi to win the prestigious title (Credit: R&A)
New Zealander Brent Paterson holds a two-shot lead heading into the final round of the R&A Senior Amateur Championship at Woodhall Spa. He’s bidding to become the first Kiwi to win the prestigious title.
Joint 36-hole leader Paterson is making his Senior Amateur debut. The 62-year-old admitted to struggling on Woodhall Spa’s green in the opening round on grasses he’s not used to. He’s adapted quickly. He’s made 12 birdies over the last two days after the eccentric decision to sleep with his putter after the opening round. He made six birdies in his third round five-under-par 68.
Canadian Mile McConnell is in second place. Rusty Strawn of the United States lurks three shots behind on five-under after a seven-under 66. Strawn is aiming to capture a third national senior amateur title after winning the Canadian and U.S. Senior Amateurs in the summer of 2022.
England’s Warren Bladon went one better than Strawn with a 65, missing the course record by a shot. He's alone in fourth place on 4-under. Bladon has dreams of a unique double: he wants to become the first player to win The Amateur Championship and Senior Amateur Championship.
Putter under the pillow works for Paterson
Paterson slept with his putter after the opening round on the advice of a friend. Wife Susan is now with him in Woodhall Spa, so the putter is sleeping on the sofa.
“The putter didn’t sleep with me last night, but I found an old chalk line on the practice green today before I played, and I took advantage of it. I putted beautifully today."
After sleeping with his putter, Paterson had his wife on the bag for the third round.
“My wife Susan caddied for me today. It’s the fourth time she’s caddied for me in 30 years of marriage. It was pretty special today because this place is special."
It appears a lot of Paterson's choices are going right for him this week.
"We loved it, and I played well. So I’m giving her the credit," he said. "This is my first time here, and I’m loving every minute of it. In fact, I’ll probably be back every year.”
He might just return 12 months from now as defending champion. Paterson has won the last four New Zealand Amateur championships, and he has six overall.
“I just love competition. I like to see what I’m capable of. That’s what gets me excited. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m just going to go out and play the course and enjoy myself.”
Rusty Strawn (the far and away top-ranked player in the AmateurGolf.com Senior Men's Rankings
) is pacing the large group of Americans who typically "cross the pond" to compete in the British Senior Amateur. They tend to have a lot of success -- a player from the USA has won 8 of the last 10 playings, including three in a row. USA Walker Cup captain Mike McCoy is defending his 2022 title and currently sits T21 at 4-over.
Bladon seeking amateur double
Warren Bladon of Kenilworth, England nearly didn’t enter the R&A Senior Amateur.
“I wasn’t going to play this week but I told my wife (Caroline) I’m only playing because no one’s won The Amateur and the Senior Amateur, and she said, ‘fair enough, go and play.’ That’s why I’m here,” said Bladon, who won The 101st Amateur Championship at Turnberry in 1996.
“I’d like to do it because it would be a great achievement. I’m in with a chance. Another good score and I won’t be far away.”
Foster in good company
On the women's side, England’s Jackie Foster also leads by two. She is hoping to add the women’s trophy to two pieces of English Senior Amateur Championship silverware she already owns.
Foster began the final round in elite company alongside the top two senior players on the World Amateur Golf Ranking in Australians Nadene Gole and Sue Wooster. They are ranked 244th and 395th respectively. The Bishop Stortford Golf Club member does not have WAGR status, but she did not look out of place. She outscored the two Australians with a one-under-par 72.
Gole shot a 75 while overnight leader Wooster signed for a 77. Gole is three shots off the lead, while Wooster is four behind.
Three-time Curtis Cup player and 1994 Women’s Amateur champion Emma Brown is in fourth place, five shots off the pace after a four-under-par 69, the low round of the week.
“I just kept patient, kept going,” Foster said. “I holed some good putts for either pars or bogeys at key times and that kept me going.”
The 59-year-old has one slight advantage this week: local knowledge. The retired policewoman is a country member of Woodhall Spa.
“Being a member has some advantage on the greens, but we’re playing different tees so it’s not always a huge advantage. I’ve been a country member for five years, and I usually play it in the winter so not always in these types of conditions."
But sometimes the local knowledge can be more of an obstacle.
“I’ve just not tried to put pressure on myself, which can happen being a member.”
Foster won two English Senior Amateurs in 2016 and 2017, and helped the English senior team win the 2019 Senior European Team Championships.
“I’m just going to go out and carry on playing as I’ve been and see what happens. I’ve played really well the last few days so it would be nice if it continued.”
She’ll gain WAGR Status with one more good round, and please fellow Woodhall Spa members too.
ABOUT THE British Senior Amateur
The British Senior Amateur, called the "Seniors
Amateur Championship" in the United Kingdom,
was launched by The R&A in 1969 to help select
a Great Britain & Ireland side to play in the
World Senior Amateur Team Championship.
Though the British Senior Amateur, played for the
first time at Formby, was an instant success, the
team event did not survive beyond 1969. Charlie
Green has been the most successful player in
the history of the event, winning six times in
seven years beginning in 1988. Like the U.S.
Senior Amateur, players must be over the age of
55 to play. Notable courses played over the
years include Royal County Down, Royal
Portrush, Royal Aberdeen, and Walton Heath.
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