Bemowski Wins Early Battle Of Past Champions

By Pete Kowalski, USGA

Newburgh, Ind. – It’s uncanny how these kinds of things happen.

Two past Senior Amateur champions meeting in the first round of match play at Victoria National Golf Club? Well, let’s just say, it’s the rub of the green.

So, Kemp Richardson, 60, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., who won in 2001 and 2003, was on the first tee against Mark Bemowski, 60, of Mukwonago, Wis., the winner in 2004, when the rained- out first round started Monday.

Two-time champion Kemp Richardson of Laguna Niguel, Calif., lost to 2004 champion Mark Bemowski in his attempt for three titles. (Robert Walker/USGA)

“It was kind of like, ‘Oh, no,'’’ said Bemowski of his reaction when he learned of his opponent.  “We’re good friends. He’s such a great champ.”

Bemowski, for the record, defeated Richardson, 3 and 2, on Tuesday morning when play resumed after the washout.

“To be honest, I was happy we didn’t have to play any more,” Bemowski said of the delay. “It was getting awfully cold and wet. It was miserable. You want to have some fun when you play.”

Monday, he took a 3-up lead through four holes with help from winning birdies on the third and fourth holes. Richardson won the next two holes when Bemowski faltered slightly to decrease the deficit to one hole.

However, he then birdied the par-5 ninth and Richardson three-putted on the par-5 10th to make it 3-up Bemowski again. The rain stoppage occurred after the pair had tee off on the 13th.

On Tuesday, Bemowski’s lead increased to 4 up when he birdied the tough 14th but he dropped a hole with a bogey on the 15th.

“You look forward to an easier match in the first round,” Bemowski said. “I’ve had a lot of tough matches in the first round. I guess you can’t ever say that it’s going to be an easy match. In these conditions, anything can happen.”

Bemowski has played a past champion before but not in the first round. Ironically, He has faced 2002 champion Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc, Mich., three times in match play.

Bemowski won in last year’s quarterfinal against Reynolds and in 2004 in the championship final. Their first match up was in the 2002 final with Reynolds coming out the victor.

Co-medalist Bill Leonard of Kennesaw, Ga., enjoyed the better conditions on Tuesday and won his first-round match. (Robert Walker/USGA)

“If you have a tough match, it doesn’t matter who it is,” Bemowski said. “In St. Louis, the first time I ever played, I had a big lead and I blew that and it went extra holes. The next year in Florida, I had another match go extra holes. To be beat a terrific player like Kemp is great. He didn’t have his ‘A’ game. It is tough out here. There aren’t a lot of birdies out there. You just make a lot of pars and you are going to win an awful lot of holes.”

Spoken like a man who had won his 20th match over the course of six Senior Amateurs. His overall match play mark is 20-4.

Pete Kowalski is a Manager of USGA Media Relations. E-mail him with questions or comments at


Notes: Defending champion Mike Rice lost his match, 2 and 1, to Terry Tessary of Collinsville, Ill...Sadly, Tessary had to withdraw because of a death in his Paul Simson, 55, of Raleigh, N.C., and Bill Leonard, 57, of Kennesaw, Ga., won their first-round matches handily…Simson tied a championship mark for largest margin of victory with an 8-and-7 win over Brian Sachs of Gainesville, Fla….Leonard topped Jim Pierce of Oro Valley, Ariz., 6 and 4…Reynolds defeated Bill Douglas of London, Ky., 6 and 5…Alan Foster, 63, of Manlius, N.Y., who advanced to the semifinals in 2004 and 2005, defeated Wally Adams of Vidalia, Ga., 4 and 2...two-time USA Walker Cupper Marty West, 58, of Rockville, Md., won his match handily, 8 and 6, over Vivian Villarreal of Mexico, 6 and 5... both of those players had played for their respective countries in the World Amateur Team Championship.


Championship Facts

USGA Senior Amateur Championship

PAR AND YARDAGE Victoria National Golf Club will be set up at 6,760/6,766 yards and par 36-3672.

Teeing ground Height of grass .30 inches
Fairways Height of grass .55 inches
Green approaches and closely mown areas Height of grass – .425 inches
Collars around greens Height of grass – .375 inches
Intermediate rough 1 inches and 6-feet wide
Primary rough 2-3 inches
Putting greens USGA Stimpmeter reading of 10.5 feet

The USGA championship setup results in a USGA Course Rating of 73.1 and a USGA Slope Rating® of 139.

VENUE Victoria National Golf Club, east of Evansville, Ind., was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1998. The course was the project of the late Terry Friedman, a well-known Indiana entrepreneur.

Victoria National, which has the feel of a links course due to large mounds and contoured fairways, was built around an existing surface coal mine. As a result, water-filled lakes serve as hazards on 15 of the 18 holes.

HISTORY The USGA Senior Amateur Championship was first played in 1955. The 2006 Senior Amateur Championship will be the 52nd.

SCHEDULE Stroke play rounds will be played Sept. 16-17 (Saturday-Sunday). Following two days of stroke play, the field of 156 golfers will be reduced to the lowest 64 scorers, who will advance to match play. The match play portion of the championship runs from Sept. 18-21 (Monday-Thursday). The first round is set for Sept. 18 (9:30 a.m. CDT start); the second and third rounds for Sept. 19 (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. 20. The 18-hole, match-play final (9 a.m.) is scheduled for Sept. 21.

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


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