West Caldwell, N.J. – Jim Holtgrieve, 64, of St. Louis, carded a 3-under-par 68 Sunday to take the lead for medalist honors halfway through the second round of stroke-play qualifying at the 2012 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at the par-71, 6,838-yard Mountain Ridge Country Club. Holtgrieve, who also shot 68 in the first round, sits at 6-under 136.
First-round leader Stan Kinsey, 58, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., was one of 78 golfers with afternoon tee times. Kinsey’s 66 in the opening round matched the second-best 18-hole qualifying score in championship history.
The USGA Senior Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final on Thursday, Oct. 4, starting at 9 a.m. EDT.
The USGA Senior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
USA Walker Cup Captain Holtgrieve made 11 birdies in two rounds, and his 36-hole total ties the second-best mark in Senior Amateur history. In the second round, he made five birdies, most by holing eight- to 12-foot putts.
“It just feels really good,” Holtgrieve said. “I haven’t been in this position for a long time. Match play is where you have to put pressure on the other guy. If I hit good shots and good putts, we will see what happens.”
Holtgrieve, the 1981 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, kept the momentum of his round with a 15-foot par putt on the 186-yard 14th after hitting a 6-iron into a greenside bunker.
“I hit one bad shot, but I was able to get up and down,” he said. “It’s kind of fun. I got my hands more upright [on the putting stroke] and I love the greens; they are rolling great.”
Jim Bemowski, the 2004 USGA Senior Amateur champion, shot even-par 71 and is four behind Holtgrieve. Bemowski, 66, of Mukwonago, Wis., started on the 10th tee and made a pair of birdies on the outward nine to cruise into match play.
“You can’t go to the party unless you have an invitation,” said Bemowski, who has also been a runner-up twice in this championship. “I got an invitation and I will be at the party.”
Paul Simson, the 2010 Senior Amateur winner, stood at 1-under 141 after shooting 73 in the second round. Simson, this championship’s stroke-play medalist three of the last four years, made an eagle on the par-5 sixth that was offset by a double-bogey 5 on the seventh.
“I made a couple of errors as far as placement on a couple of holes and made some stupid bogeys,” Simson said. “But I’m into match play and I’m in good shape. I don’t think I’ll need to worry about [the medalist jinx]. I’m pleased to be in. You always worry that it might be the year you miss, but I played solid today.”
Rick Woulfe, 62, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., tied with Simson at 141. Woulfe, who is playing in his sixth Senior Amateur, shot 72 in the second round.
Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.