CASHIERS, N.C. – The sun came out and the fairways dried up, but Wade Hampton Golf Club still was being stingy to the 2013 USGA Senior Amateur field.
Pat O’Donnell’s even-par 72 on the 6,842-yard, par-72 Tom Fazio design was the best score among the 78 golfers who needed to complete their weather-delayed first round of stroke-play qualifying on Sunday morning. That was still three strokes off the pace set by Chip Lutz, who managed a 69 in miserable and rainy conditions on Saturday before play was suspended at 2:38 p.m. EDT due to unplayable conditions.
The first round resumed at 7:50 a.m. on the first official day of fall under chilly, but otherwise ideal conditions. Temperatures hovered in the 50s as the players got into position for the restart. As the morning wore on, the mercury started to rise, but the scores didn’t fall.
Lutz’s 69 was the only sub-par score posted in the first round, which had a scoring average of 80.06.
“It was a little tough getting up this morning,” said O’Donnell, 59, of Happy Valley, Ore., a quarterfinalist at the 2012 Senior Amateur. “Once we made the turn, it kind of heated up and some of the dew got off the ground. It was wet [at the outset].”
O’Donnell’s five birdies were offset by three bogeys and a double-bogey 6 at the 13th hole.
“It’s good,” said O’Donnell, who joined Saturday finishers Jack Hall and Buzz Fly at even par. “We’ll grab some lunch and tee off in about 20 minutes.”
O’Donnell had finished three holes on Saturday before the suspension, so he faced a long day of 33 holes of golf to complete stroke-play qualifying.
Because of Saturday’s suspension of play, stroke-play qualifying will spill over into Monday. Golfers who played in Saturday’s morning wave won’t get their second rounds started until late Sunday and nightfall, which hits around 7:15 p.m., will prevent that wave from finishing.
Lutz, the first-round leader, is scheduled to tee off at 4:18 p.m., and the final starting time is 5:48 p.m.
David Szewczul, 59, of Farmington, Conn., the oldest qualifier in this year’s U.S. Amateur field, carded a 73 and is four strokes behind Lutz.
Doug Hanzel, 56, of Savannah, Ga., the low amateur in the last two U.S. Senior Opens, posted a 2-over 74, as did 2010 Senior Amateur runner-up Patrick Tallent, 60, of Vienna, Va.
“It was interesting [this morning] warming up under the lights,” said Hanzel, who last year became the first player in USGA history to make match play in the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur and USGA Senior Amateur in the same championship season. “It was cool out. The first couple of holes were different. The air was really heavy and the ball wasn’t flying very well. Granted the conditions were tremendously better, [but] it was still hard to club.
“The course was gorgeous. The fairways weren’t all that wet, they are perfect. There is no excuse. The golf course is perfect.”
Jon Tingley, 55, of Flemington, N.J., recorded an eagle-2 on the par-4 ninth, his final hole of the round, by sinking a 7-iron approach shot from 144 yards. He finished with a 78.
Once 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying concludes, the field will be cut to the low 64 scorers for match play, which will commence on Monday. Match play continues Tuesday and Wednesday, with the 18-hole championship match scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.