Randy Lewis wishes he would have made better use of his special exemption into the U.S. Senior Open.
The reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, Lewis didn’t have a poor round Thursday at Indianwood Golf & Country Club, but he did suffer one bad hole and that led to a disappointing score, a 10-over-par 80.
"I’m going to try hard tomorrow to show how much I appreciate the invitation," said Lewis, 55.
A resident of nearby Alma, Mich., Lewis did plenty to earn his way into this championship. Last year, at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas, Lewis became by far the oldest winner of the Mid-Am after defeating Kenny Cook, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final. At 54, Lewis was 20 years older than the average age of the 30 previous Mid-Am winners.
"I had a great run for sure," said the financial advisor, who earlier this year had the chance to play in the Masters Tournament, an invitation derived from his victory in the Mid-Am. He missed the cut after shooting 81-78-159.
Lewis did not make a birdie in his round Thursday, but he was holding steady until the final four holes. He bogeyed Nos. 6 and 7 to slip to 5 over par, not great but still respectable for an amateur playing in his second U.S. Senior Open. (He also competed in the 2009 championship.)
But the par-4 ninth was a disaster. He drove out of bounds with a hybrid, and after hitting the fairway on his third shot came up short on his approach. With his ball buried in the bunker, he needed two to get out but still wasn’t on the green. A chip and two putts added up to a quintuple-bogey nine.
"I can’t tell you what happened. I hit a hybrid off the planet and it was just a struggle from there," Lewis said.
Other than the ninth, Lewis struck the ball decently. He found 10 fairways and 11 greens in regulation. But he struggled on the greens, needing 35 putts.
"I didn’t putt well, but my iron play wasn’t very good either. I hit it in the wrong spot a lot, and that contributed to my putting problems," he said. "Even when I did give myself a good look, I didn’t have the lines down. It was a pretty frustrating day."
It was particularly disappointing because he felt like he prepared well, and he likes the golf course.
"I like Indianwood. I like it a lot," he said. "It’s really a fun golf course. I did drive the ball really well, but then to shoot the score I did is kind of a shock, really. I just did nothing else and I felt like I might play decently.
"It’s quite an honor to be here. I wish I could have lived up to the invitation a little better. We’ll see if tomorrow I can’t shoot something under par, maybe give myself an outside chance to make the cut."
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.