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.
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.”
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 email@example.com.
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):
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)