U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
Five Round-of-64 Matches to Watch August 27, 2017 | Minneapolis, Minn. By Dave Shedloski

Keith Decker, of Martinsville, Va., who has won a record 28 Virginia state golf titles, squares off against George "Buddy" Marucci on Monday. (USGA/Chris Keane) 

While the top seeds await the results of Monday’s 7 a.m. CDT hole-by-hole playoff for the final seven spots in match play among 12 players, first-round matches in the 63rd U.S. Senior Amateur begin at 8 a.m. CDT at The Minikahda Club.

One certainty is that a ton of experience will be put to use in these head-to-head battles on a golf course that didn’t give up many low scores in 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying (only nine rounds under 70 were recorded over two days).

Here are five noteworthy matches among the 32 on tap (match-play seed in parentheses, all times CDT):

Sean Knapp (25) vs. Duke Delcher (40), 8:40 a.m.: Both these men have been around and each is seeking his first USGA title. Knapp, 55, of Oakmont, Pa., has competed in more than 40 USGA championships, while Delcher, 61, of Bluffton, S.C., has played in more than 20, including the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where Knapp caddied as a teenager. Each has reached the quarterfinals in U.S. Amateur play, and Knapp, a past Pennsylvania Amateur winner, might have made it twice were he not stopped in the Round of 16 of the 1995 edition by eventual champion Tiger Woods. Delcher’s match-play chops also include competing in the 1997 Walker Cup for the USA.

Doug Hanzel (9) vs. Michael Dunsmore (56), 8:50 a.m.: Hanzel, 60, of Savannah, Ga., shot 72-70 in qualifying to signal his bid to add to his 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur title. The Kent State product was low amateur in the 2012 and 2013 U.S. Senior Opens, while Dunsmore, 59, has his own experience in the U.S. Senior Open, having served as caddie for the 2009 champion, Fred Funk. Dunsmore, from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., lost to eventual winner Dave Ryan in the quarterfinals of last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur.

Ned Zachar (24) vs. George Zahringer (41), 9 a.m.: A battle of New Yorkers, with Zahringer, 64, of New York, N.Y., carrying the more impressive credentials of 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and 2013 British Seniors Amateur champion, plus a USA Walker Cup berth in 2003. Zachar, 55, of Bedford, N.Y., has played in two U.S. Mid-Amateurs in his career, reaching the Round of 16 in 2014, but the former Iowa high school champion produced two solid stroke-play rounds in his U.S. Senior Amateur debut.

Keith Decker (15) vs. George “Buddy” Marucci Jr. (50), 11 a.m.: Decker, 57, of Martinsville, Va., is the only player to have played in all 11 USGA Men’s State Team Championships, and at the state level has won a record 28 Virginia titles. He will have his hands full with the 65-year-old Marucci, a two-time USA Walker Cup player and two-time winning captain. The Pennsylvania native won the 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur title, but he is most famous for taking Tiger Woods to the 36th hole before losing in the final of the 1995 U.S. Amateur.

Gene Elliott (18) vs. Patrick Tallent (47), 11:10 a.m.: Though he struggled down the stretch in Sunday’s second round of stroke play, Tallent, 64, of Vienna, Va., knows about deep runs in this championship, having won in 2014 and finished runner-up to Paul Simson in 2010. He also won the 2015 British Seniors Amateur. The 55-year-old Elliott, meanwhile, won the Porter Cup, one of the most prestigious amateur events in America, in 1998 and he was the stroke-play medalist in the 1999 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. He is a three-time Iowa Amateur champion and two-time Iowa Open champ.

Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer and a frequent contributor to USGA websites.

 

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