Bemowski, Defending Champion, Advances To Final Against Rice

Rocky Face, Ga. – Defending champion Mark Bemowski, 59, of Mukwonago, Wis., and Mike Rice, of Houston, Texas, both won two matches Wednesday to advance to the final round of the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at The Farm Golf Club.

Bemowski is vying to become the first player in 25 years to defend the title since Bill Campbell won in 1980 after winning in 1979.

Mark Bemowski, driving in the semifinals, looks to defend his title against Mike Rice. (Mannie Garcia/USGA)

"It’s a real privilege,” Bemowski said of defending the title. “I’m happy about that.”

En route to his third Senior Amateur final, Bemowski defeated 2002 champion Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc, Mich., 2 and 1, in the quarterfinals and 2005 British Senior Amateur champion Alan Foster of Manlius, N.Y., 3 and 2, in the semifinals.

"I feel honored to win that bracket,” said Bemowski, a corporate promotional sales specialist. “It’s like winning a championship.”

Bemowski was the equivalent of 2-under-par in his match with Foster, gaining a 4-up edge through 12 holes. Foster then birdied the 13th and 14th, but Bemowski rebounded with a winning birdie on the 15th that moved him to 3 up.

Bemowski’s match play mark at the championship now stands at 19-3.

In a match-up of 65-year-olds, Rice, a retired insurance executive, shrugged off a shoulder injury suffered on the 17th hole of his quarterfinal match to de-rail Jack Vardaman of Washington, D.C., 8 and 6, in the semifinals.  Earlier, Rice, who is playing in his sixth Senior Amateur, bumped Gayle Sanchez, a dentist from Baton Rouge, La., 3 and 1, in the quarterfinals.

"It’s sore,” Rice said of his shoulder. “I can’t finish (my swing). Maybe I’ll play like that all the time.”

Rice, who advanced to the final 16 in 2002, built a 5-up lead through nine holes and then won three consecutive holes to close out Vardaman.

Mike Rice approaches the 12th green in his semifinal win. (Mannie Garcia/USGA)

"It shows us old folks can hit it halfway decent every now and then,” said Rice, a former SMU football player. “Everybody has a dream of winning a USGA national title. You can’t win one unless you go out and get in the final.”

In the other quarterfinals, Vardaman, a past member of the USGA Executive Committee and a quarterfinalist in 2004, beat Randy Reifers of Columbus, Ohio, 3 and 2; and Foster defeated Bob Mielcarz of Concord, N.H., 1 up.

All quarterfinalists are exempt from having to qualify for the 2006 championship at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind.  Semifinalists are exempt from having to qualify for the 2006 U.S. Senior Open at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.

The final round on Thursday starts at 9 a.m.  The winner receives a gold medal, custody of the Frederick L. Dold Trophy for the ensuing year and an exemption into the next five Senior Amateurs.

The USGA Senior Amateur, for amateurs 55 and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Rocky Face, Ga. – Results from Wednesday’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play at the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at 6,763-yard, par 72 The Farm Golf Club:



Jack Vardaman, Washington, D.C. (145) def. Randy Reifers, Columbus, Ohio (142), 3 and 2

Mike Rice, Houston, Texas (140) def. Gayle Sanchez, Baton Rouge, La. (150), 3 and 1


Alan Foster, Manlius, N.Y. (138) def. Robert Mielcarz, Concord, N.H. (143), 1 up

Mark Bemowski, Mukwonago, Wis. (139) def. Greg Reynolds, Grand Blanc, Mich. (144), 2 and 1



Rice def. Vardaman, 8 and 6


Bemowski def. Foster, 3 and 2

Rocky Face, Ga. – Pairing for Thursday’s 18-hole final match at the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at 6,763-yard, par 72 The Farm Golf Club: (EDT)

9 a.m. – Mike Rice, Houston, Texas, (140) vs. Mark Bemowski, Mukwonago, Wis., (139)




USGA Senior Amateur Championship

PAR AND YARDAGE The Farm Golf Club will be set up at 6,737/6,763 and par is 36-3672.

Teeing ground - Height of grass -- 425 inches
Fairways Height of grass -- .450 inches
Green approaches and closely mown areas Height of grass -- .425 inches
Collars around greens Height of grass -- .230 inches
Intermediate rough USGA asked for addition of intermediate rough that will be cut to 1 inches and 6-feet wide
Primary rough 2 inches
Putting greens USGA Stimpmeter reading of 11 feet

VENUE The Farm Golf Club was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1988. Located between Atlanta and Chattanooga in northwest Georgia, The Farm benefits from significant elevation changes, which provide a scenic and difficult test of golf.

HISTORY The USGA Senior Amateur Championship was first played in 1955. The 2005 Senior Amateur Championship will be the 51st.

SCHEDULE Stroke play rounds will be played Sept. 17-18 (Saturday-Sunday). Following two days of stroke play, the field of 157 golfers will be reduced to the lowest 64 scorers, who will advance to match play. The match play portion of the Championship runs from September 19-22 (Monday-Thursday). The first round is set for Sept. 19 (9:30 a.m. start); the second and third rounds for Sept. 20 (8:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. starts) and the quarterfinals and semifinals (8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. starts) for Sept. 21. The 18-hole, match-play final (9 a.m.) is scheduled for Sept. 22.

CAN I PLAY? The USGA Senior Amateur Championship is open to amateurs who will have reached their 55th birthday on or before Sept. 17, 2005, and who have a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 7.4.

ENTRIES The USGA accepted a record 2,498 entries for the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, the fifth consecutive year entries topped 2,200. The previous record of 2,420 entries was set in 2004. The deadline for entries was July 27.

TICKETS Admission and parking are free for all six days of the championship.

DEFENDING CHAMPION In the finals of the 2004 championship, Mark Bemowski of Mukwonago, Wis., reversed the outcome of the 2002 by defeating Greg Reynolds, 4 and 3, at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif. In 2002, Reynolds had beaten Bemowski by the same margin.


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