U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR
Stroke Play, Round 1: Live Updates
September 17, 2016 | ST. LOUIS, Mo.
7:11 p.m. CDT: The incoming nine at Old Warson Country Club played to an average of more than 3 over par in Saturday’s first round of stroke play (39.17 and par of 36). The course yardage for the championship is listed at 7,061 yards, although it is unlikely to play at the full yardage on any day. In fact, the course played 6,767 yards on Saturday, after 2 inches of rain on Friday kept players off the Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout for nearly the entire day.
The 15th hole, a 435-yard par 4, was the toughest hole of the day, playing to a 4.76 average and surrendering just one birdie against 82 bogeys, 14 double bogeys and 3 scores higher than double bogey. The easiest hole was the 515-yard sixth hole, which was one of two holes to play under par at a 4.89 average, with an eagle by co-leader Randal Lewis and 45 birdies among the 156-player field.
4 p.m.: You can’t blame Kiyohito Dezaki for being nervous on the first tee during the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur at Old Warson Country Club. Make that very nervous. After all, it was the first USGA championship for the 59-year-old, who didn’t even start playing golf until he turned 40. Although his first tee shot found the fairway, the jitters eventually got the best of him, resulting in a 9-over-par 80 for the only player in the field not from North America.
Two birdies could not offset five bogeys and a double bogey on the incoming nine, and that’s a concern for Dezaki, who will start his second round off the 10th tee on Sunday.
“The back nine is playing harder so I will have to find a rhythm quickly,” said Dezaki, who says his favorite player is Tom Watson.
A former club baseball player in Japan, Dezaki turned to golf after an arm injury and learned the game on his own at a Tokyo-area driving range. Without any teacher, Dezaki lowered his handicap to 2 in just five years. In August, he shot 70 to earn medalist honors in U.S. Senior Amateur sectional qualifying at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
Dezaki, who splits his time between his native Japan and Honolulu, is unlikely to achieve his goal of advancing to match play in the championship but remains hopeful.
“There’s nowhere to go now but up,” he said.
3:05 p.m.: Bryan Norton, 57, of Mission Hills, Kan., is in the clubhouse at 2-under 69. Norton, the runner-up in the 2014 U.S. Senior Amateur and 2003 Mid-Amateur championships, teed off at Old Warson Country Club this morning seeing the course for the first time since a U.S. Open sectional qualifier in 2004. Norton did not arrive to St. Louis until Thursday evening and didn’t get to play a practice round or even walk the course due to Friday’s heavy rainfall.
The uncertainty didn’t affect Norton, as he birdied the first two holes, and later 11 and 12 to briefly grab the lead at 4 under.
"Sometimes, playing a course for the first time makes you a little more disciplined,” he said. “I was really disciplined off the tee and hit my targets. That's the great thing about this course; it's pretty straightforward off the tee. You can see where you want to hit it."
2:12 p.m.: The 12th time as an alternate for a USGA championship proved to be the charm for Vance Antoniou, thanks in small part to the Chicago Cubs.The resident of North Barrington, Ill., was the second alternate into the U.S. Senior Amateur out of the sectional qualifier at Fox Bend Golf Course in Oswego, Ill. The first alternate was Dan Roan, the longtime sports director at WGN-TV in Chicago, the Cubs’ affiliate. The call for an alternate went out on Friday afternoon, as Roan was working the Cubs-Milwaukee Brewers game.
“Dan would have needed more notice to get out of his schedule with the Cubs,” said Antoniou, 59, a real estate developer. “I got the call at 4 p.m. yesterday after he passed it up, and it was a drivable for me, about 4½ hours.”
Antoniou’s 11 previous waiting games as an alternate – none of which panned out until Friday – include one last week for the U.S. Mid-Amateur in Elverson, Pa. “I’ve been an alternate for the U.S. Amateur six times, three times for U.S. Open sectional qualifying, a U.S. Senior Open and the Mid-Am.”
Antoniou began his first round at 12:50 p.m. CDT on Saturday, in what will be his 10th USGA championship and fourth Senior Amateur.
9:40 a.m.: Minutes before the first ball of the U.S. Senior Amateur was hit Saturday at Old Warson Country Club, college football was the topic of conversation between two of the three players on the first tee. Larry Vaughan, of Greensboro, Ga., was toting a University of Michigan golf bag, which caught the eye of Rick Woulfe, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a proud Michigan State graduate.
“Uh oh, they have me playing with a Wolverine? That can’t be coincidence, can it?” said Woulfe, jokingly.
“Let’s just agree not to talk all day,” said Vaughan in response.
Both players found common ground in their distaste for Notre Dame, which plays Michigan State tonight. The Wolverines are playing Colorado this afternoon. For the record, Woulfe struck the first shot of the championship, Vaughn the third, and they both found the fairway with their opening tee shots.
9:35 a.m.: This week’s 62nd U.S. Senior Amateur Championship is the 20th USGA championship to be held in Missouri, and the third at Old Warson Country Club in St. Louis. The only other time the U.S. Senior Amateur was held in the Show Me State was in 2001, at nearby Norwood Hills Country Club. It was a historic result, as Kemp Richardson, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., won his first of his two Senior Amateurs and joined his father, John, as the only father-son champions in USGA history. John Richardson won the Senior Amateur in 1987 at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. Kemp went on to win again in 2003 at The Virginian Golf Club, in Bristol, Va. The younger Richardson competed in the 2014 championship, but is not in this year’s field. Brothers Stan and Louis Lee won Senior Amateur titles in 2007 and 2011, respectively. Stan Lee, of Tumbling Shoals, Ark., will begin his round this afternoon at 1:10 p.m. off the first tee. Louis withdrew from the championship earlier in the week.