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Kemp Richardson, 55, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., followed in
the footsteps of his father as he won the USGA Senior Amateur
championship at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis, Mo.,
beating Bill Ploeger, 61, of Columbus, Ga. In the final match,
2 and 1.
Richardson's father, John, won the 1987 Senior Amateur at
Saucon Valley(Pa.) Country Club at age 66. They are the first
father-son winners in USGA history. John passed away a year
after his win, but the 18th green flag from that championship
is a framed keepsake for the family.
"My father meant a lot to me," said Richardson. "He was a
great player, and he taught me everything. We used to play
a lot of golf together. I always hoped I'd have this chance.
I am proud to have my name on this trophy."
The long-hitting Richardson won holes 15 and 16 by sinking
10-foot putts on each before the two players halved the 17th
to end the match. He had won three consecutive holes to take
a 2-up lead after eight. He won the sixth and eighth holes
with birdies and was the equivalent of 1-under-par on the
Ploeger, however, won holes 11 and 14 with pars to square
the match for the moment.
Richardson is also the second to concurrently hold the USGA
Senior Amateur and the British Senior Amateur titles. He won
the 2001 British Senior at Royal Portrush in Ireland with
a 54-hole total of 217. The first to hold both titles was
2000 champion Bill Shean Jr. of Hillsdale, Ill.
Richardson also was the low amateur in the 1999 and 2000
U.S. Senior Opens, and just missed the cut at the 2001 Senior
Open by a stroke. The 2000 Senior Open was held at Saucon
Valley, where his father won the Senior Amateur.
"I still play with the kids and can hit it with those guys
who are playing on the Senior Tour, so I don't feel like I
am this old, but I guess I am," said Richardson, who set the
pace with a 2-under 69 on the first day of stroke play.
Richardson led in each of his five matches heading to the
final, leading in each by the 9th hole. He was not extended
to the 18th hole in any of his matches.
"I thought that when I won hole 14 I had a chance," Said
Ploeger, who suffered a mild heart attach before the 2000
championship and then lost his first-round match. "He's a
great champion. He hits the ball so long he's tough to beat."
In four of his six matches Ploeger won the first hole of
each and never trailed. He birdied the second hole to take
an early lead on Richardson as well, but couldn't hold it.