West Caldwell, N.J. – Jim Knoll, 60, of Sunnyvale, Calif., defeated defending champion Louis Lee, 2 up, in the weather-delayed quarterfinal round on Wednesday at the 2012 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at the par-71, 6,838-yard Mountain Ridge Country Club.
Due to a nearly two-hour weather delay, the semifinal matches began at 2:40 p.m. EDT.
Curtis Skinner, 55, of Lake Bluff, Ill., also reached the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Steve Golliher, 57, of Knoxville, Tenn. Golliher and Lee and were the highest seeds remaining, at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.
Following the semifinals, the 2012 USGA Senior Amateur Championship will conclude with a scheduled 18-hole final on Thursday at 9 a.m.
The USGA Senior Amateur, for players 55 and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Knoll, who dispatched reigning British and Canadian Senior Amateur champion Chip Lutz in the first round after surviving an 11-for-9 playoff for the final match-play spots on Monday morning, rolled in a 50-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th to go ahead in his quarterfinal. He added an 18-foot birdie on the par-3 14th to go 2 up.
“Someone is looking out for me,” said Knoll, who was seeded No. 60 for match play. “He didn’t make any putts; his speed and pace were off.”
Lee, 56, of Heber Springs, Ark., sliced the deficit in half with a conceded par at No. 15 after Knoll drove into a fairway bunker. But Lee could not rally after missing a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and three-putting on the final hole.
“I just left two or three (shots) out there,” said Lee, whose match-play record in the Senior Amateur is now 10-1. “With Jim Knoll, you can’t do that. He never lets up.
“Par is a good score on any hole. You make 18 pars and you will win a lot of matches and you might win the tournament.”
Paul Simson, the 2010 Senior Amateur champion, was conceded his match against Stephen Sharpe, 55, of Greensboro, N.C., after the latter decided not to continue following the weather delay. Simson had built a 5-up lead through 10 holes before the suspension. He made three birdies and seven pars. Simson hit a 7-iron to 3 feet at the par-4 second and struck a 54-degree sand wedge to close range on Nos. 6 and 9.
“He played fine; I just played better,” said Simson, 61, of Raleigh, N.C., who reached the quarterfinals at last year’s championship. “It was one of those good days. It rained the entire time and it never stopped. It got torrential.”
Doug Hanzel, 56, of Savannah, Ga., earned a spot in the semifinals against Skinner with a 3-and-1 win. He made a pair of 15-foot birdie putts on holes 11 and 16 to defeat No. 63 seed Pat O’Donnell, 58, of Happy Valley, Ore.
“I knew I had the game to compete out here,” said Hanzel, who was the low amateur at this year’s U.S. Senior Open and qualified for match play at the 2012 U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur. “But match play is different because you have to play at the right time. It’s very rewarding to see all the hard work this summer pay off.”
Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.