Zylstra's 65 Sets Record, Pace At USGA Senior Amateur
Andover, Kan. – Bill Zylstra, 55, of Westland, Mich., shot a 6-under 65 to take the lead midway through Saturday’s first round of stroke play at the 2007 USGA Senior Amateur Championship, being played at the 6,502-yard, par-71 Flint Hills National Golf Club.
The 65 betters by a stroke the previous USGA Senior Amateur 18-hole scoring record of 66 shot by Bob Kulp at the 2003 Senior Amateur at The Virginian Golf Club in Bristol, Va., and Billy Clagett at the 2005 championship at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Race, Ga.
Zylstra’s 65 featured eight birdies and two bogeys, including one at the par-5 first hole, the 10th of his round, when he lost a ball.
“It was kind of a miracle,” said Zylstra, who is playing in his first USGA Senior Amateur. “Everything went right.”
Even when things appeared to be going wrong, they turned out well for Zylstra. On the par-3, 185-yard fourth hole, he pulled his tee shot 20 yards left of the green and chunked his second shot, leaving him a 70-footer for par. Seventy feet later, he had his par.
“That was ridiculous,” said Zylstra. “That was like stealing two shots, because it was going hot and was going to go 12 feet by the hole.”
Although this is Zylstra’s first Senior Amateur, he is no stranger to USGA championships. He played in the 1968 U.S. Junior Amateur, the 1984 U.S. Amateur, three Amateur Public Links, the 2002 Senior Open and the 2006 Mid-Amateur. And his father played in the 1948 and 1953 U.S. Opens.
Despite the strong start, Zylstra wasn’t over-confident.
“It’s hard to follow up a round like that with something really good,” said Zylstra. “You’ve just got to keep doing what you’re doing.”
Steve Bogan, 59, of Placentia, Calif., was one stroke back after a 5-under 66.
“I was hitting my irons pretty close,” said Bogan, who is playing in his third USGA Senior Amateur. “I actually didn’t drive the ball very well. I was kind of struggling a little bit with the driver this week. Normally I hit it short and relatively straight.”
Bob Mielcarz, 58, of Concord, N.H., was three shots back after a 3-under 68, and 2006 Senior Amateur runner-up Thomas McGraw, 56, of Montgomery, Texas, finished with a 2-under 69.
Defending champion Mike Bell, 60, of Indianapolis, Ind., had a rough start to his title defense, with a first-round 7-over 78, which included three double bogeys.
“It just was one those days where I couldn’t get it going,” said Bell. “I think I applied a little more pressure to myself than I should. I want to play well too badly and I get out there and instead of letting the club flow, I start trying to guide it a little bit.”
Bell knows he has his work cut out for him if he hopes to avoid becoming the first defending champion to miss the cut since 1988.
“I’ve got to get myself together and play good tomorrow, that’s all there is to it. And if I don’t, the world’s not going to come to an end.”
The field’s remaining 78 players will finish their first round Saturday afternoon. After a second day of stroke play Sunday, the USGA Senior Amateur field will be reduced to 64 players for match play. The first round of match play is scheduled for Monday, the second and third rounds will be played Tuesday, the quarterfinal and semifinal matches are on Wednesday, and the 18-hole championship final will be played Thursday.
The USGA Senior Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Story written by Beth Murrison of USGA Media Relations. For questions or comments, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.