Reynolds Wins 2002 USGA Senior Amateur Championship
Jacksonville, Fla. – Greg Reynolds, 55, of Grand Blanc, Mich., captured the 48th USGA Senior Amateur Championship Thursday with a 4-and-3 victory over Mark Bemowski, 56, of Mukwonago, Wis., at the par-72, 6,596-yard Timuquana Country Club.
“It’s pretty special and hard to describe, but I feel really good about it,” Reynolds said.
The match was close until a five-hole stretch, starting at the par-4, 395-yard 10th hole. Reynolds, holding a one-hole advantage, was on the green in two and two-putted for par while Bemowski left his approach shot in the fringe short of the green. Bemowski chipped onto the green and two-putted for bogey and Reynolds’ lead grew to two holes.
The players halved the par-4, 338-yard 11th hole after Reynolds made a spectacular sand save from the bunker behind the green to within a foot.
“I almost didn’t hit that shot, because that was a shot where there was only about six inches where you could land that ball – otherwise that ball probably goes in the water,” Reynolds said. “I was thinking about hitting it sideways and maybe two-putting for bogey because I wasn’t sure he would make a par there, and then I decided, ‘oh what the heck, this is match play, if you hit it in the water, you just go to the next tee’.”
On the par-5, 539-yard 12th hole, Reynolds misplayed his approach shot from 40 yards out and didn’t hit the green, but was able to get up-and-down for par, while Bemowski three-putted from 12 feet to bogey and go 3 down.
Reynolds’ luck continued on the par-3, 212-yard 13th, a hole that had given him trouble all week. His tee shot landed in the front right bunker and his sand shot didn’t make it out of the bunker. He hit the next one out safely and was able to sink his six-foot putt for bogey, while Bemowski’s four-foot par putt to win the hole missed.
Reynolds went 4 up and dormie when Bemowski missed a six-foot par putt at the par-4, 375-yard 14th hole, and won the match when the two players traded pars at the par-5, 490-yard 15th hole.
“The last few days, I really putted well on some really crucial putts – I made a lot of those,” Reynolds said. “Ordinarily my putting isn’t a strong part of my game but I thought I putted very well here.”
Bemowski, on the other hand, was hurt by poor putting throughout the match.
“I’ve been battling it for several years now, and it really manifested itself today,” Bemowski said. “I’ve really struggled on these greens, with the speed particularly.”
The victory capped an eventful week for Reynolds, who made it into the field as an alternate four days before the championship started. He arrived late the evening before the first day of play and didn’t even have time for a practice round before teeing up on Saturday afternoon for his first round of stroke play.
In his first-round match against Jay Howson of Malvern, Pa., Reynolds trailed by four holes at the turn but came back to earn a 1-up victory. He never trailed by more than one hole again throughout the championship, and didn’t trail at all after the second hole of his third-round match against medalist Billy Clagett of Austin, Texas.
In Thursday morning’s semifinal action, Reynolds, already up three holes after eight against Curt Madson, 61, of Mount Dora, Fla., sank a 45-foot birdie putt to win the par-4, 396-yard 9th hole. He went on to win the next two holes to go dormie 6 heading to the par-3, 212-yard 13th hole.
Madson came back to win the 13th and the par-4, 375-yard 14th holes to extend the match, but when the players halved the par-5, 490-yard 15th hole with pars, Reynolds had a 4-and-3 victory.
“I made too many stupid bogeys that add up pretty quickly when somebody’s not making mistakes,” Madson said.
In Bemowski’s semifinal match against Bill Baloh, 58, of Herminie, Pa., things were all square until the par-4, 338-yard 11th hole, when Baloh put his approach shot in the water. Bemowski went on to win that hole and three of the next four, closing out the match with a 4-and-3 victory when he birdied the 15th hole.
The USGA Senior Amateur, for amateur players 55 years and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Jacksonville, Fla. – Results from the semifinal and final rounds of match play Thursday at the 2002 USGA Senior Amateur, being played at the par-72, 6,596-yard Timuquana Country Club:
Greg Reynolds, Grand Blanc, Mich. (149) def. Curt Madson, Mount Dora, Fla. (153), 4 and 3
Mark Bemowski, Mukwonago, Wis. (153) def. Bill Baloh, Herminie, Pa. (153), 4 and 3
Reynolds def. Bemowski, 4 and 3