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.
“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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 family...co-medalists 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.