U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
2013 Champion Hanzel Among Quarterfinalists at Old Warson September 20, 2016 | St. Louis, Mo. By Joey Flyntz, USGA

2013 champion Doug Hanzel jumped out to a 4-up lead in his Round-of-16 match with Mike Brummer before ultimately prevailing, 2 and 1. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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Doug Hanzel began Tuesday’s play as one of four past champions teeing off in the 62nd U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at Old Warson Country Club, and at the end of the day he was the only one of the four to win two matches on the 6,853-yard, par-71 layout and advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Hanzel, 59, of Savannah, Ga., who won the 2013 Senior Amateur at Wade Hampton Golf Club, advanced to the quarterfinal round for the first time since his victory three years ago, defeating Brady Exber, 3 and 2, and Mike Brummer, 2 and 1.

Despite his pair of wins on Tuesday, Hanzel knows his short game must improve if he is to match his feat from 2013.

“I'm hitting it really well, I'm just having a little bit of trouble with the green speed,” said Hanzel. “Because they have so much break, your speed has to be right, and my speed on some short putts wasn't so good today. I just have to tighten up.”

Fellow Senior Amateur champions Chip Lutz, 61, of Reading, Pa. (2015); Patrick Tallent, 63, of Vienna, Va. (2014); and Paul Simson, 65, of Raleigh, N.C. (2010 and 2012) all failed to get through the grueling day at Old Warson.

The U.S. Senior Amateur is one of 13 annual national championships conducted by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. The championship is open to amateurs at least 55 years of age with a Handicap Index® not exceeding 7.4. It consists of two rounds of stroke play – one each on Saturday and Sunday. The low 64 scorers began match play on Monday. It concludes with an 18-hole final on Thursday.

Simson and Lutz met in the morning’s Round of 32, with Simson earning a 5-and-3 triumph, thanks to three straight wins on holes 11-13.

“I was 1 or 2 up for a while, then I finally got to 3 up on 12,” said Simson. “As we’ve seen this week, no lead is safe in match play, so it was big to finally get that breathing room against a great player like Chip.”

Lutz, the defending champion, struggled to find consistency all week. He couldn’t get in a groove against Simson, with whom he competed for the USA team in the recent Copa 70 Anos in Bogota, Colombia.

“It has been a great year, but it’s disappointing to not carry on here,” said Lutz. “I didn’t play well today, which is unfortunate, but Paul played pretty steady and I couldn’t find much tempo.”

Simson led for almost the entirety of his Round-of-16 match against Dave Ryan, 62, of Taylorville, Ill., including a 1-up lead on the 14th tee, where he found himself on the wrong end of one of the game’s most rare occurrences.

Ryan hit driver on the 270-yard, par-4 14th, and the ball hit the front of the green and rolled into the hole for only the third known hole-in-one on a par 4 in USGA championship history, and only the 13th known double eagle.

“I was trying to drive the green,” said Ryan, who recorded the 20th ace in Senior Amateur history and the first since 2011. “I was down, and I was lucky it went in. When you do something like that, it’s all luck.”

Simson rebounded to win the next two holes go dormie on 17, but Ryan won 17 with a birdie and 18 with a par to force extra holes. Ryan completed his comeback on the 20th hole with a par on Old Warson’s second hole.

Tim Jackson, the medalist and a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, defeated 2014 Senior Amateur runner-up Bryan Norton in the Round of 32 with a chip-in birdie on No. 18 for a 2-up victory, then bettered 2014 Senior Amateur winner Tallent, 2 and 1, in the Round of 16.

A semifinalist last year, Jackson is looking to go all the way this time.

“For me, it was more of a mental thing. I think I was lacking patience and a little toughness last year,” said Jackson, who lost, 1 up, to Lutz last year. “I’m excited; we’re getting into the rarified air now.”

Matthew Sughrue, 57, of Arlington, Va., advanced to the quarterfinals in his first U.S. Senior Amateur start with a 5-and-4 win over first-round stroke-play leader Randal Lewis, 59, of Alma, Mich. Sughrue never trailed in the match against Lewis, the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, closing out the match with three straight wins on holes 12-14.

“I didn't make a lot of mistakes today. With the heat and two matches in one day, I managed to keep everything together,” said Sughrue. “I played really well. I played aggressively when I had to. I played a great player and just played a little bit better, so I'm really proud about that."

In a rematch from last year’s quarterfinals, Kevin Cahill, 56, of Waukesha, Wis., reversed last year’s loss with a 4-and-3 win over Steven Liebler, 57, of Irmo, S.C.

Michael Dunsmore, 58, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., advanced to the quarterfinals after getting in the field as an alternate last week when 2007 champion Louis Lee withdrew. Dunsmore outlasted Wayne Wright, 68, of Aledo, Texas, in 22 holes, the longest match of the championship.

All quarterfinalists are exempt into next year’s U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, Aug. 26-31 at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.

The quarterfinals are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. CDT on Wednesday with the semifinals slated to begin at 1:30 p.m.  

Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at jflyntz@usga.org

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