Notebook: Stupid Move Pays Off For Lee
By Beth Murrison, USGA
Andover, Kan. – Stanford Lee knew he had to do something risky.
Playing against Logan Jackson in Wednesday morning’s quarterfinals, Lee had seen his 2-up lead disappear and by the time he arrived at the 18th tee, he was 1 down.
With a large water hazard running down the left side of the 18th fairway at Flint Hills National Golf Club, many players have chosen to play conservatively off the tee at No. 18. But that wasn’t an option for Lee given his deficit.
For Lee, his next move was simple.
“I knew that he would not bogey the hole, so I knew had to birdie it,” said Lee. “I decided to hit a driver there, which is really a stupid thing to do. But what choice did I have?”
After hitting what he called a perfect drive, Lee had 240 yards remaining to the green. With the wind in his face, he knew he needed to hit a spectacular shot.
“I can’t hit a 3-wood 240 into the wind,” said Lee. “But I did. I don’t know how I did. I think the Lord just shot the ball off the clubface. It got there to 10 feet and I was able to two-putt.”
Lee went on to win that match on the 19th hole and earned a spot in the final with a 4-and-3 victory over Stu Grendahl in the semifinals.
Don’t be surprised if Sam Farlow shows up for Thursday’s championship final wearing the same shirt he wore Wednesday.
In 2003, Farlow was playing at the Senior Am at The Virginian Golf Club in Bristol, Va. During that week, during which he advanced to the quarterfinals, he bought a golf shirt with the championship logo. And in the years since, it has become his lucky shirt.
“I’ve worn it probably a thousand times,” said Farlow. “It’s been washed a thousand times and I can’t believe it hasn’t fallen apart.”
Despite his attachment to the shirt, he admitted its days could have been numbered.
“If I had lost I would probably have thrown it out,” he said after his quarterfinal victory over 1972 U.S. Amateur winner Vinny Giles.
Instead, Farlow and the shirt live another day at the Senior Am.
Back In The Amateur Game
Lee and Farlow have more in common than a spot in Thursday’s championship final match. Each spent time the PGA Tour in the mid-1970s.
Lee played the PGA Tour from 1976 to 1980, while Farlow played the 1974 season and parts of the 1976 and 1977 seasons, when there was qualifying school twice a year, on Tour.
But both found life on the road unsatisfying. Not to mention not very lucrative.
“For the average guy, which I was, it’s a tough life,” said Lee. “I had to drive everywhere and was in a motel 40 weeks a year. It was a grind. I don’t miss it.”
Farlow got his amateur status back in 1983. Lee, who didn’t play competitively for 18 years after leaving the Tour, waited until 2005 to regain his amateur status.
Given their successes since returning to the amateur game, it might be tempting to make another go at the professional game. But the Champions Tour doesn’t appeal to Lee.
“The same guys who beat me in the 70s are still around,” said Lee. “They are still there and they are really good.”
Leaving On A Jet Plane
When Stu Grendahl and his wife Susan made vacation plans for early September, he knew the trip would fall just after the USGA Senior Amateur. He just doesn’t realize how close he was going to cut it.
In February, Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s been undergoing chemotherapy, and she and Stu scheduled a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate the end of her treatments.
But then he qualified for the Senior Amateur. And after he arrived at Flint Hills National, he continued to play well and eventually found himself in the quarterfinals Wednesday morning. With plane tickets from Illinois to Vegas on Thursday morning, the couple began looking into contingency plans.
“She has been great about it,” said Grendahl.
As it turns out, Grendahl, who was playing in his first USGA championship, lost in the semifinals to Stanford Lee Wednesday afternoon. He’ll travel home Wednesday night so he and his wife can fly to Las Vegas in the morning.
But she would have certainly understood had he needed to meet her there.
Beth Murrison is a manager of media relations for the USGA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.