New Hat and All, Simson Leads at Senior Amateur
Newburgh, Ind. – Even without one of his lucky old straw hats, Paul Simson, 55, of Raleigh, N.C., made an impact during the first round of the USGA Senior Amateur Saturday.
Simson, who has won the British Senior Amateur, the North Carolina Senior Amateur and the North and South Senior Amateur in the last two months, posted five birdies and a bogey to shoot 4-under-par 68 to lead the field by three strokes through the morning wave of starting times at Victoria National Golf Club.
“It’s a new one,” Simson said of his straw hat. “I wasn’t allowed to bring one of the old ones. I usually have some pretty ugly old ones, you know the ones that go every which way. But, my wife said: ‘Bring a new one.”
The new head gear wasn’t all Simpson brought to the challenging layout in southern Indiana.
“I’ve had a real solid summer,” Simson said. “My stroke average is as low as I’ve ever been and it’s all because I’m hitting the ball much better. I seem to have a good pattern going.”
Simson and 2005 Senior Amateur quarterfinalist Bob Mielcarz, 57, of Concord, N.H., who shot 1-under-par 71, were the only two players with scores under par from the morning’s play.
“It could have been significantly lower,’ Simson said of his enviable 68. “I didn’t make a whole lot of putts. I only made a few. I’m used to making a lot.”
Paul Schlachter, 57, of Pittsburgh, Pa., 2003 semifinalist David Boesel, 58, of Orlando, Fla., and Mike Bell, 59, of Indianapolis, Ind., shot even-par 72.
A realtor playing in his sixth USGA championship, Schlachter said: “You are always on pins and needles. There always seems to be a hard shot around the corner. Water right, water left, long, short. And, are even contours on the green to get your attention.”
Two-time champion Kemp Richardson of Laguna Niguel, Calif., shot 75.
A trio of past champions, Mike Rice (2005) of Houston, Texas, Mark Bemowski (2004) of Mukwonago, Wis., and Greg Reynolds (2002) of Grand Blanc, Mich., are playing in the afternoon wave.
Due to the significant amount of pre-championship rainfall, the tees on six holes were moved up for stroke play, making the course 167 yards shorter.
Stroke play ends Sunday with the top 64 scorers advancing to match play, which begins Monday. All six rounds of match play are scheduled for 18 holes each, culminating with the final on Thursday.
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 questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.