2013 Champion Hanzel Solidly in the Mix August 28, 2017 | Minneapolis, Minn. By Dave Shedloski

Doug Hanzel, of Savannah, Ga., who was second in the recent Seniors Amateur Championship, won his opening match on Monday. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Doug Hanzel, the 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur champion, came into the 63rd U.S. Senior Amateur knowing that he was playing well, including a runner-up finish less than two weeks ago in the Seniors Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A. So he wasn’t surprised to get through stroke-play qualifying with relative ease.

And when the pulmonologist from Savannah, Ga., played the outward nine at The Minikahda Club in 3 under par Monday morning in his first-round match against Michael Dunsmore, he might have expected to be in for an easy day.

“We made the turn and I was just 1 up. That will get your attention,” Hanzel said.

But it didn’t get him out of his comfort zone.

Hanzel, 60, never made a bogey, and after he reeled off four straight holes on the incoming nine he dispatched the former tour caddie from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., 5 and 3, to reach the Round of 32, where he will face Ned Zachar of Bedford, N.Y. Zachar defeated 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion George Zahringer, 2 up.

“It was a good match. We both played well,” Hanzel said of his match with Dunsmore, who lost to eventual winner Dave Ryan in the quarterfinals last year. “It was a better match than the score looks. I was able to pull away.”

The key for Hanzel was birdies on the 12th and 13th holes after making the turn 1 up. He drove the green on the 280-yard, par-4 12th and two-putted from 15 feet, then followed with a wedge to 4 feet at the par-5 13th. When Dunsmore, 59, bogeyed the 14th, Hanzel’s lead swelled to 4 up and he won it with a conceded birdie at 15.

Dunsmore, 59, who caddied for Fred Funk in his 2009 U.S. Senior Open victory at Crooked Stick, only made two bogeys himself before conceding the last hole, but that was far too many against the steady Hanzel. Dunsmore birdied the first and fourth holes, but saw those erased by Hanzel’s birdies at Nos. 2 and 3. Hanzel took the lead for good with a short birdie at the par-5 ninth.

“I definitely have the game to win again,” said Hanzel, who shot 144 in qualifying and is seeded ninth in the match-play draw. “I’m playing very well. I just finished second in the British Senior Amateur [at Sunningdale]. I lost by two and [got the worst of] the draw. Played in the morning in a steady downpour. Two hours after I got done, they cancelled play for the day because the course was unplayable. That probably was a four- or five-shot difference from the guys who didn’t play much or, in some cases, not at all. To lose by two was tough.

“Michael played well, but I got out ahead and when you can go 2-3 up then it gets tough for the other guy,” Hanzel added. “I feel like I can win, but you know how match play can go. There is no easy road. I have to keep playing well against these guys. Really, everyone is capable.”

Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.

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