Bill Shean Jr.
Bill Shean Jr., 55, of Hinsdale, Ill., defeated William
King, 64, of Jupiter, Fla., 5 and 3, Thursday afternoon to
win the 1998 USGA Senior Amateur Championship at the 6,626-yard,
par-72 Skokie Country Club.
In the morning's semifinal matches Shean defeated Gunnar
Bennett of Surfside, Fla., 3 and 1, to advance and King slipped
past Dan Pierre of Palatine, Ill., in 19 holes.
Shean grabbed the lead with a birdie on the par-4, 425-yard
first hole, and he never looked back.
"Foremost, I am grateful," said an emotional Shean, who was
playing in his first USGA Senior Amateur. "I'm so grateful
that I can hardly talk. So many of my good friends were out
here today, and it was hard not to look at them or say hi.
It felt so good to see so many people out here pulling for
me. Staying focused was a very difficult deal."
The turning point of the match came on the par-5 13th hole,
which Shean took by rolling in an eight-foot birdie putt,
increasing his lead to 3 up. The match ended when Shean won
the 15th on a conceded par.
"I was embarrassed on the front nine that I was playing
lousy golf," said Shean, who played the equivalent of 1-over-par
during the final match. "During a break after the ninth hole,
I thought, 'win, lose or draw I'm going down playing better
golf.' And I shot 1-under on the back."
King, a retired mechanical engineer, was disappointed about
his loss but felt positive about the championship.
"Coming in second is just outstanding," said King. "I've
played in this tournament four times, and the two previous
years I've lost in the round of 16. So just getting to today
was a big step. And certainly no golfer can complain about
getting to the finals of a national championship.
"I didn't play as well this afternoon, and I certainly didn't
putt as well as I had earlier in the week. Putting on these
greens is crucial, and I started missing some of the short
ones. Bill played very well. He made the putts he needed to
make, and he hit the ball consistently."
The USGA Senior Amateur Championship is one of 13 national
championships conducted annually by the United States Golf
Association. Ten of those championships are strictly for amateur