McGraw Ousts Co-Medalist, Meets Bell In Final


Newburgh, Ind. – Tom McGraw, 55, of Montgomery, Texas, defeated co-medalist Bill Leonard of Kennesaw, Ga., 4 and 3, Thursday to advance to the USGA Senior Amateur final against Mike Bell, 59, of Indianapolis, Ind. The championship match begins at 1 p.m. CDT.

Tom McGraw needed to survive a playoff to get into the match-play draw, but the 55 year old is now a win away from the USGA Senior Amateur title at Victoria National Golf Club. (Robert Walker/USGA)

Bell beat 2003 quarterfinalist Sam Farlow, 59, of Birmingham, Ala., 4 and 2.

"Mike and I are such good friends, we even have the same shoes,” said McGraw, a commercial banker. “This whole thing is really emotional for both of us. I would almost hate for Mike to lose as much as I would myself.”

McGraw, who survived a seven-man playoff for match play on Monday, never trailed in his match with Leonard, a golf retail store manager. He built a 3-up lead with a birdie on the 13th and won the match on the par-5 15th when Leonard made a double bogey.

Leonard was vying to become the first medalist to win since 1987.

"You have to be lucky out here,” said McGraw, who has played in more than 10 USGA championships. “To play this much golf, no one can win without luck.”

Bell is attempting to duplicate the feat of Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc, Mich., who won as an alternate in 2002. He also is trying to become the first player since Bill Shean Jr. in 1998 to win the Senior Amateur in his home state. Shean, a Chicago native, won at Skokie (Ill.) Country Club.

"I’m just beyond words,” Bell said. “The course played really hard today. The pins were in hard spots and the wind was just blowing and it was really tricky.”

Co-medalist Bill Leonard enjoyed a nice run before falling to Tom McGraw in the semis. (Robert Walker/USGA)

Bell received his place in the field when Jerry Jackson of Kokomo, Ind., withdrew because of some family health concerns.

Owner of a school services company, Bell won the first hole against Farlow with a par and never trailed. His lead was 3-up through 11 holes.

Farlow, who advanced to the quarterfinals of the 1985 U.S. Amateur, beating a young Jeff Maggert along the way, won the 12th with a par but could not close to gap any further.

"I’m going to play my heart out this afternoon,” Bell said. “If I win, it will be fantastic and I I’ll celebrate later. If I lose, I’ll still great because I had a great week.”

The champion receives a gold medal and custody of the Frederick L. Dold Trophy for the ensuing year.

Semifinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2007 U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis. Quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2007 USGA Senior Amateur at Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, Kan.

The USGA Senior Amateur, for players 55 and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA.

Story written by Pete Kowalski of USGA Media Relations. E-mail him with comments and questions at


Results from Thursday’s semifinal round of match play at the 2006 USGA Senior Amateur, conducted by the United States Golf Association, at Victoria National Golf Club (6,760 and 6,766 yards, par 72):

Semifinal Round

Tom McGraw, Montgomery, Texas  (156) def. Bill Leonard, Kennesaw, Ga.  (143), 4 and 3

Mike Bell, Indianapolis, Ind.  (148) def. Sam Farlow, Birmingham, Ala.  (146), 4 and 2

Pairing for Thursday’s final round of match play (18 holes): Time CDT


1 p.m. -- Tom McGraw, Montgomery, Texas  (156) vs. Mike Bell, Indianapolis, Ind.  (148)



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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