U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
Five First-Round Matches to Watch at U.S. Senior Amateur September 19, 2016 | ST. LOUIS, Mo. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Bryan Norton (left) and Tom Brandes are the two most recent runners-up in the U.S. Senior Amateur. They played each other on Monday. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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The stroke-play portion of the 62nd U.S. Senior Amateur Championship finished on Sunday evening at Old Warson Country Club, and now the field has been reduced to 64 players for match play, which began Monday morning. Here are five matches to watch.

Match 2, 8:20 a.m. CDT: No. 32 Tom Brandes, Bellevue, Wash., vs. No. 33 Bryan Norton, Mission Hills, Kan.

The two most recent losing finalists (Brandes in 2015, Norton a year earlier) square off, with the winner facing either top-seeded Tim Jackson or No. 64 John Madden. Both players went backward in stroke play on Sunday, with Brandes shooting six strokes higher (71-77) and Norton shooting 10 higher (69-79). Brandes used his exemptions into the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Amateur in August, missing the cut in both. He won his third Pacific Northwest Senior Amateur in June. Norton is a three-time Kansas Amateur champion who was also runner-up in the 2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Match 4, 8:40 a.m. CDT: No. 17 Patrick Tallent, Vienna, Va., vs. No. 48 George “Buddy” Marucci, Villanova, Pa.

Last year at Hidden Creek Golf Club in New Jersey, 2008 champion Marucci lost to longtime friend and rival Jim Holtgrieve in Round 1. This year, the two-time Walker Cup player and captain takes on 2014 champion Tallent, who got into match play in his victorious year at Big Canyon Country Club via a playoff, then rolled to six straight victories. Tallent, who also won the 2015 Seniors Amateur Championship at Royal County Down, credited his 1-up win over Chip Lutz in the Round of 64 as the key to his championship run at Big Canyon.

Match 12, 10 a.m. CDT: No. 20 Jeff Burda, Modesto, Calif., vs. No. 45 Chip Lutz, Reading, Pa.

Burda, 63, is a three-time California Senior Amateur champion who has qualified for three U.S. Senior Opens. Lutz, the defending champion, made the most of his Senior Open debut last month, finishing as the low amateur and the only one to make the 36-hole cut. Lutz was in danger of missing the match-play cut on Sunday after an opening 77 and a 3-over 39 on his first nine holes, but rallied with 2-under play on his final nine to get inside the cut line by three strokes. Burda shot steady rounds of 72-74.

Match 21, 11:30 a.m. CDT, No. 7 Buzz Fly, Memphis, Tenn., vs. No. 58 Frank Ford, Charleston, S.C.

Fly was a semifinalist in this championship in 2013 at Wade Hampton Golf Club in Cashiers, N.C., defeating 2014 champion Patrick Tallent along the way. The volunteer assistant for the University of Memphis golf team shot an even-par round of 71 on Sunday to secure his high seed, making 14 pars along the way. Ford is a six-time winner of the Azalea Invitational at the Country Club of Charleston and a two-time semifinalist in this championship. He is also the general chairman of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston.

Match 25, 12:10 p.m. CDT: No. 3 Randal Lewis, Alma, Mich., vs. No. 62 Pat O’Donnell, Happy Valley, Ore.

Lewis, the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, was the medalist in this championship last year at Hidden Creek Golf Club in New Jersey before losing to eventual champion Chip Lutz in the quarterfinals. He was also a semifinalist in 2014 at Big Canyon. O’Donnell was the runner-up to Doug Hanzel in 2013 at Wade Hampton. He is playing in his seventh U.S. Senior Amateur and also played in the U.S. Senior Open in 2012 and 2014.

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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