U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
Condon (67) Leads After Round 1 of U.S. Senior Amateur
August 25, 2018 | Eugene, Ore.
By David Shefter, USGA
During his two practice rounds in preparation for his second U.S. Senior Amateur appearance, Greg Condon found a Eugene Country Club layout that wasn’t overly long, but one that required precision.
“A lot of times, you get to these [USGA] championships and the golf course is really long and really demanding,” said Condon. “This course is demanding because of the pin placements.”
Condon, 56, of Monte Vista, Colo., was dialed in for Saturday’s setup, carding a 5-under-par 67 to take a two-stroke lead after the first of two stroke-play rounds. Condon, who missed the cut in this year’s U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., posted six birdies against one bogey on a day when the average score of the field was 77.2.
Condon is no stranger to national competition. He’s advanced to the sectional stage of U.S. Open qualifying a couple of times, including 2017 at the age of 55, and he reached the Round of 32 in the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at the age of 50.
“I just hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens,” said Condon, who has his son, Luke, serving as his caddie this week. “I had a couple [shots] go into the trees and was very fortunate, got the right bounce.”
Jeff Wilson, 55, of Fairfield, Calif., the low amateur in the 2018 U.S. Senior Open; 2017 U.S. Senior Amateur semifinalist Frank Vana Jr., 56, of Boxford, Mass.; and Dennis Smith, 64, of Lafayette, La., each shot 3-under 69s. They were one stroke clear of 1979 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Jack Larkin, 56, of Atlanta, Ga. Vana and Smith were the only competitors with bogey-free rounds.
Smith, competing in his first USGA championship, kept his card clean by holing a 25-foot par putt on the fourth hole, his 13th of the day. He hit 15 of 18 greens, and birdied Nos. 8, 17 and 18.
Vana birdied both par-5 holes on the outward nine (six and eight) and added a third birdie on the par-3 12th.
Wilson, who joined Marvin “Vinny” Giles III as the only players to have earned low-amateur honors in a U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open, got to 4 under par before consecutive bogeys on 16 and 17. He then birdied the 18th hole to post his 69.
The final round of stroke play will take place on Sunday, after which the field will be cut to the low 64 for match play, which begins on Monday. To win the championship, competitors must win six matches over four days, including the 18-hole final Thursday morning.
- Defending champion Sean Knapp, 56, of Oakmont, Pa., carded a 3-over-par 75.
- Two-time champion Paul Simson, 67, of Raleigh, N.C., was the only past winner to post an under-par round, carding a 1-under 71.
- Peter Persons, who won the 1990 Chattanooga Classic on the PGA Tour and was the runner-up to Sam Randolph in the 1985 U.S. Amateur, is serving as the caddie for 1979 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Jack Larkin. Larkin and Persons were roommates at the University of Georgia. Persons played the PGA Tour full time from 1990-1993 and the Nike Tour (now Web.com Tour) from 1994-1996.
- Michael Staskus, 61, of Los Altos, Calif., was a late addition to the field on Saturday when Tom Jereb, of Concord, Ohio, withdrew due to an injury.
- Larry Watts, 59, of Springfield, Ore., withdrew after nine holes due to a back injury. The high school golf coach was 2 over par at the time.
Greg Condon, 56, of Monte Vista, Colo., on his impressive first round:
“Stroke play is fun, [but] match play can be more demanding. It’s harder to stay focused at times. I have so much golf left. Today is just a fortunate day, let’s call it a lucky day.”
Frank Vana Jr., 56, of Boxford, Mass., on the key to his 3-under round of 69:
“I drove it really well today. That was the key. For the most part, I hit it in the fairway all day. The one bad shot, I ended up hitting it close with one of my wedges from the woods. There are monster trees out there. We have a lot of trees [in Massachusetts], but not like these [tall firs]. The course is great. The greens are fabulous. Today, I was just happy I was driving it in play. I wish I hit my wedges a little bit better, but I’m happy.”
Dennis Smith, 64, of Lafayette, La., on his mindset for his first USGA championship round:
“My goal was to shoot even par today and I thought that’s all I needed to do.”
Jack Larkin, 56, of Atlanta, Ga., on how playing in this year’s U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor helped him prepare for the U.S. Senior Amateur:
“No question. It’s a big venue and a big-time place and I had my son [Jack Jr.] on the bag.”
David Blichar, 55, of Allentown, Pa. (1-over 73) on the challenging conditions:
“The course is super difficult. I just putted really well, like really well. I made a lot of 4- and 5-footers for par. That’s the only thing that kept my round going was making those good par saves.”
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.