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Another interesting story from today's first round is that of Bill McDonald. McDonald, who won the 1964 U.S. Amateur Public Links, is playing in his first USGA championship since 1973. He shot a 3-under 68 today and stands three strokes off the lead.

McDonald is not only happy to be back at a USGA championship, he's also glad to be back in Kansas. McDonald, who now calls Troy, Mich., home, was born in Great Bend, Kan., and was raised in Topeka. When he won the APL in '64, he qualified for the championship in Wichita.

Beth Murrison

Past Champ Chatter

Spoke with defending champion Mike Bell after his round today. Bell couldn't have been too pleased after a 7-over 78 but was still courteous, friendly and engaging, as he always is. That's one of the nicest things about covering events like the Senior Amateur. For so many of the players, they consider being asked to speak to the media an honor, not a chore.

Speaking of past Senior Am champions, 2002 winner Greg Reynolds stands two under par midway through his first round. Reynolds injured his shoulder after a fall in a bunker during a practice round Friday and was concerned about whether he'd be able to swing well enough to get it around at Flint Hills today. Nine holes in, things look to be going pretty well.

O. Gordon Brewer, the 1994 and 1996 Senior Amateur champion, is also in the mix. Brewer, at 70 the oldest player in the field, is one over par through nine holes.

Beth Murrison
Manager, USGA Media Relations

Champions' Trifecta

At every players' dinner, the roll call of past USGA champions present is read, along with the list of anyone who's represented the USA at an international team event like the Walker Cup or World Amateur Team Championship.

Last night, half the table I was sitting at stood to be recognized. Among those I was honored to share the evening with were Kemp Richardson, the 2001 and 2003 Senior Amateur winner; Mark Bemowski, the 2004 Senior Amateur champion, and Greg Reynolds, who won the 2002 Senior Amateur. The fourth person called to stand was Marty West, who represented the USA at the 1973 and 1979 Walker Cup Matches and the 1972 World Amateur Team Championship. Lofty company, indeed.

 

Interestingly, Reynolds and Bemowski played in the final of the 2002 Senior Amateur at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla. Reynolds got the better of Bemowski that day, prevailing 4 and 3. After that match the two formed a friendship, playing together frequently in practice rounds at various tournaments. In 2004, they met again in a USGA Senior Amateur final, at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles. That year, it's was Bemowski's turn. He won the championship by the same 4-and-3 margin Reynolds had two years earlier.


Beth Murrison

Manager, USGA Media Relations

Bench Swings, Connects At Players' Dinner

During my seven seasons as a member of the USGA media relations staff, I have been honored to listen several very good guest speakers at playersí dinners at various USGA amateur championships.

 

Last night, I was privileged to be in the audience to hear a great speaker.

 

Johnny Bench is well known as a 14-time National League All-Star and two-time league MVP catcher for the Cincinnati Reds during the teamís Big Red Machine heyday. But Bench, the 1976 World Series MVP who was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989, may have even greater skills as a public speaker.

 

Bench, a member of Flint Hills National Golf Club, host of this week's USGA Senior Amateur Championship, regaled attendees last night with tales from his days growing up in Oklahoma, where he was one of 21 students in his graduating class. He told the audience how he first started playing golf as a youth in Oklahoma City, and that when he signed his first contract with Louisville Slugger at age 19, he was given a choice of $500 or a set of golf clubs, which came with the bag. Despite a first-year contract that paid him $11,000 (for the entire 1968 season, during which he caught 154 of 158 games), he took the clubs.

 

After being named the 1970 National League MVP, he was asked to join the USO Around the World tour with Bob Hope. At some point during their travels, Hope asked Bench to play in the 1971 Bob Hope Desert Classic. Bench, who had never played in a tournament before, wound up being paired with Arnold Palmer. Bench had everyone in stitches as he recalled his nerves on the first tee, which led to Palmer asking of Bench, ďare you all right?Ē and Bench responding by duck-hooking his tee shot onto the 18th fairway.

 

At times, it was difficult to understand some of Bench's comments. But thatís only because it was hard to hear over the roars of laughter from the crowd.

 

Beth Murrison
Manager, USGA Media Relations


 

 

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