U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
2016 Quarterfinalist Hornbeck Bounces Back
August 27, 2017 | Minneapolis, Minn.
By Ron Driscoll
John Hornbeck is going to get a chance to play his favorite style of golf after all.
Hornbeck, who shot an 8-over-par 80 in the first round of stroke play in the 63rd U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at The Minikahda Club on Saturday, rebounded with a 3-under 69 on Sunday to assure himself of a spot in the 64-player match-play bracket at 5-over 149.
“I love match play – I’ve won a lot of match-play stuff,” said Hornbeck, 59, of Saratoga, Wyo., who reached the quarterfinals of last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur at Old Warson Country Club, defeating three higher-seeded players along the way. “As soon as I get there, it’s ‘game on.’ I start firing at pins.”
Hornbeck’s rocky Saturday afternoon round resulted from a combination of weather woes and his own mistakes.
“I just got uncomfortable in the rain, and the greens were a little slow,” said Hornbeck, who also reached the Round of 32 in the 2014 U.S. Senior Amateur. “That combination just got in my head, and then I hit a couple of fliers. There was a lot of water between the ball and the clubface, and I hit a few over the green. I also fired at a couple of pins I shouldn’t have.”
Being over the green is a cardinal sin at Minikahda, but Hornbeck apparently learned his lesson by Sunday morning.
“Today everything dried out a little bit, and it fit my style,” said Hornbeck, who had similar – though less dramatic – improvement last year, bettering his opening score by six strokes in Round 2 of stroke play at Old Warson (77-71). “I made a bogey on the second hole I played this morning, and then I said, OK, you better not get any more.”
After a steadying par, Hornbeck birdied three of his next five holes and he was on his way to a 3-under round and a spot in the top 64. A 10-time champion in his home state who toiled as a coal miner for 25 years, Hornbeck relishes the opportunity to lock horns with his contemporaries.
“I enjoy competing against all of these East Coast guys,” said Hornbeck, a Wyoming native who won his state match-play title in 2011. “I read about them, but I never really get to play against them unless I come back here.”
This week’s Senior Amateur venue is a little closer than usual for Hornbeck, and he is ready to make himself at home when the Round of 64 begins on Monday.
“We should have more match-play tournaments, we really should,” said Hornbeck. “I’ve actually hit a tee shot out of bounds in a match and told my opponent, OK, that’s behind us, let’s go to the next hole.”
Now that stroke play is behind him, Hornbeck is hoping to thrive.
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.