U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
Two-Time Champion Simson Won't Go Away August 30, 2017 | MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. By Dave Shedloski

Paul Simson, of Raleigh, N.C., has earned four match-play victories this week as he seeks his third victory in the U.S. Senior Amateur. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Paul Simson is still hanging around in the 63rd U.S. Senior Amateur, a development that should surprise no one. But one man is thoroughly surprised. Yep, Simson.

With an easier-than-expected 5-and-4 victory Wednesday morning over Matt Sughrue, last year’s runner-up, Simson got through to the semifinals at The Minikahda Club. Winner of the 2010 and 2012 championships, Simson next took out Frank Vana Jr. of Boxford, Mass., one of the newcomers in the field, by a 5-and-3 margin.

Simson, 66, sheepishly admitted after beating the 57-year-old Sughrue that he hadn’t planned to have a tee time in the championship final on Thursday morning – or in Wednesday afternoon’s semifinal, for that matter.

“I’ve got to arrange some flight changes and car rental stuff,” said Simson, wiping his brow after watching Sughrue, of Arlington, Va., lip out a putt on the 14th hole that would have kept him alive. “We originally had [a flight] this afternoon. You’ve got to make a choice when you buy a ticket. I certainly hoped to make match play, and I thought I’d get through one round. The best guess was Wednesday afternoon, unless things were going really well.”

Guess what? Things are going really well.

“Whew, it’s a nice hassle to have,” he said, grinning.

Of course, Simson relishes the idea of further forays along The Minikahda Club. He’s enjoying another deep run in the championship, and the golf course fits his game. On Wednesday, he suffered just one bogey against Sughrue, who, Simson said, “didn’t have his best stuff.” Meanwhile, the wily Simson, who in 2001 was low amateur in the U.S. Senior Open, is locked in, ignoring the fortunes of his opponents while deciphering the design elements of the Donald Ross-designed layout.

“I tend to like Donald Ross courses, and I’ve had lots of success on them. I seem to eventually get with the program,” said Simson, who won his second Senior Amateur on a classic Ross course, Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J. “I think he is one of the greatest golf architects ever and this club has done a great job of preserving the intricacies of the golf course that Donald Ross intended. I’ve had a couple of alignment issues with some of the holes and how to play them. Part of his architecture is he tricks you with some of the shots. There have been two or three holes where we’ve changed some of the strategy during the week, to accommodate what he intended as the architect.”

Now Simson has to change his travel strategy.

But if he can eventually go home with another trophy, he likes the idea of the company he would join. Doc Redman, for instance, who recently won the U.S. Amateur Championship. Like Simson, he is from Raleigh.

“We’ve got a lot of excited folks back in North Carolina,” Simson said. “Got Doc Redman who won the Am. Scott Harvey has a shot at the Mid-Am, and I still have a shot here, so that would be really something. We’re a long way from that, but North Carolina has a lot of good finishes this year.”

Indeed, there was still work to do. Including a call to the airlines.

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

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