U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
Matches Between Champs, Runners-Up Highlight Round of 64
September 19, 2016 | St. Louis, Mo.
By Joey Flyntz, USGA
A day after earning medalist honors, Tim Jackson was one of 32 winners in the 62nd U.S. Senior Amateur Championship on Monday at Old Warson Country Club, which played at 6,899 yards for the Round of 64.
Jackson, 57, of Germantown, Tenn., opened match play with wins on the first two holes against John Madden, 57, of Barrington, Ill., and never trailed en route to a 5-and-3 victory. Despite the wire-to-wire win, Jackson, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and Walker Cup competitor, knows he has to improve to keep advancing.
“It was a struggle compared to yesterday. I hit it all over the place. Fortunately, my short game was really good,” said Jackson, who made a chip-in birdie on No. 5 from 20 feet. “I only hit two or three greens on my front nine and shot even par, so my short game kept me in there.”
Jackson will face Bryan Norton, 57, of Mission Hills, Kan., in the Round of 32 after Norton prevailed against Tom Brandes, 60, of Bellevue, Wash., 2 and 1, in a matchup of the last two Senior Amateur runners-up – Brandes lost to Chip Lutz last year and Norton lost to Patrick Tallent in 2014.
"I told myself I better bring my 'A' game. I didn't play my best yesterday, but today I got off to a better start,” said Norton, who struggled to an 8-over 79 in Sunday’s second round of stroke play after a first-round 69.
Norton indeed got off to a better start than on Sunday, chipping in for birdie on No. 1 from 45 feet with Brandes facing a 10-foot birdie putt. Brandes missed the putt and Norton never trailed in the match. Norton sealed the victory with an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole.
“This felt like a quarterfinal or semifinal match,” said Norton. “A couple mistakes on each side, but other than that, we both played really well. There was a lot of good golf being played.”
Two matches after the bout between recent Senior Amateur runners-up, a pair of Senior Amateur champions squared off, with 2014 winner Tallent, 63, of Vienna, Va., defeating 2008 victor and 1995 U.S. Amateur runner-up George “Buddy” Marucci, 64, of Villanova, Pa. Tallent held off Marucci, 2 and 1, in what Tallent described as “more of a pillow fight than anything. I got up early, then hung on.”
Late drama defined much of the rest of the day, beginning with 2010 and 2012 Senior Amateur champion Paul Simson, 65, of Raleigh, N.C. Simson was 2 down with two holes remaining against Mitch Wilson, 58, of Portage, Mich. Simson won 17 after a Wilson bogey, then extended the match with a birdie on 18 after sticking his approach shot to 4 feet. Simson completed the comeback when Wilson three-putted the 19th hole, No. 10 at Old Warson.
“I really felt that we were going home. I missed a few putts, and it just wasn’t going well,” said Simson. “I’ve been given a reprieve. To win six matches playing superlatively just doesn’t happen. This is one of those where I wasn’t as sharp as I needed to be but somehow I persevered. I feel very fortunate.”
Simson will face Lutz, 61, of Reading, Pa., on Tuesday in a matchup of champions, as Lutz defeated Jeff Burda, 63, of Modesto, Calif., 2 and 1.
Ken Palladino, 59, of Dunedin, Fla., matched Simson’s feat, winning holes 17, 18 and 19 to defeat Roger Dean, 57, of Ormond Beach, Fla.
The biggest comeback of the day belonged to T.J. Brudzinski, 55, of Columbus, Ohio. Brudzinski was 3 down through 12 but won five of the last six holes for a 2-up triumph over Bob Harrington, 63, of Portland, Ore. Brudzinski stuck his approach to 6 inches on No. 16 to square the match, then took his first lead with a two-putt on No. 17. An up-and-down from the right greenside bunker on 18 capped the victory.
“Match play is so fickle,” said Brudzinski. “You can hit a great shot, and next thing you know your opponent chips in to beat you. That's just match play. It's crazy and I love it.”
First-round stroke-play leader Randal Lewis, 59, of Alma, Mich., advanced to the Round of 32 by holding off Pat O’Donnell, 62, of Happy Valley, Ore., in one of the day’s most competitive matches. Lewis, the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, never trailed but never led by more than a 2-up margin. It took a clutch pitch shot in close on the 18th green to eliminate O’Donnell, the 2013 runner-up in this championship.
“Oh man, that was a great match. It was the best first-round match I have ever played in the Senior Amateur by far,” said Lewis, last year’s medalist. “We both hit a lot of great shots. It was amazing. It took some energy level out of me. I think it's good to get a tough one right away, and he gave me all I could handle. He's a great player.”
Mike Peck, 60, of Irving, Texas, who clinched the winning point for the 1979 USA Walker Cup Team, and Doug Hanzel, 59, of Savannah, Ga., the 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur champion, both advanced to the Round of 32.
The Round of 32 is scheduled to begin at 7:15 a.m. CDT on Tuesday with Round-of-16 matches slated to begin at 1 p.m.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.