Simson’s 1-Under 141 Holds Midday Lead
Fort Worth, Texas – Paul Simson, 57, of Raleigh, N.C., finds himself in familiar territory midway through the second round of stroke play at the 2008 USGA Senior Amateur, being played at the par-71, 6,597-yard Shady Oaks Country Club.
For the third consecutive year, Simson is in the hunt for medalist honors after posting a 1-under 70 Sunday to go with his first-round 71. The two-day total of 141 puts him atop the leaderboard midway through the second round.
“I hit all 18 greens, and I had 35 putts,” said Simson about his second round. “It could have been better, it could have been worse, but it’s acceptable. Hey, all you want to do is get into match play.”
In 2006, Simson was a co-medalist with Bill Leonard at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind. A year ago, Simson held the charge for medalist midway through the second round at the Senior Amateur at Flint Hills National Golf Club but finished a stroke behind Steve Bogan.
While earning medalist honors at a USGA event for a third time – he was also a co-medalist at the 2004 Mid-Amateur at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga. – would be nice, Simson knows the key to stroke play is learning about the golf course.
“This is a typical USGA course,” said Simson, who last month won his second British Senior Open Amateur Championship in three years. “If you hit the fairways, you’re in pretty good shape. If you miss the fairways, you’re in trouble. It’s a good course for a match-play event. I’m still learning about the greens. I had lots of very, very close putts that could have gone in today. But I’ll work a little bit on the irons this afternoon and get ready to tee it up tomorrow.“
Also near the top of the leaderboard was 1991 U.S. Amateur winner Mitch Voges, 58, of Simi Valley, Calif., who shot a 1-under 71 Sunday to finish at 1-over 143, two strokes off Simson’s pace.
Defending champion Stan Lee, 56, of Heber Springs, Ark., followed his first-round 1-over 72 with a 5-over 76 Sunday. It was a carbon copy of his stroke-play rounds at the 2007 championship, when he shot 70-76 and went on to win the title.
Although he will easily advance to match play, Lee said he was happy to be done with the stroke-play qualifying rounds.
"I’m relieved to get them over,” said Lee, who is trying to become the first to win consecutive championships since William Campbell won back-to-back Senior Amateurs in 1979-80. “I was really trying too hard today. I played good enough yesterday that I knew I had it made, and that’s a really bad feeling sometimes, because you try to play too conservatively and you end up screwing everything up, which I did.”
He plans to change his approach heading into match play.
“I think I’ll be more aggressive,” said Lee. “I was very conservative today and I hate playing that way.”
Two-time Senior Amateur champion Kemp Richardson, 62, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., will also advance after recording back-to-back 1-over 72s.
“I think I played pretty good,” said Richardson, who won the championship in 2001 and 2003. “I like the course. You’ve just got to keep it in the right place on the greens.”
First-round leader Howie Knodt, 55, of Chula Vista, Calif., who opened with a 3-under 68 Saturday, had an afternoon tee time, as did 1986 U.S. Amateur champion Stewart “Buddy” Alexander, 55, of Gainesville, Fla., Dave Denezza, 61, of Greensburg, Pa., and Tom Doughtie, 55, of Amarillo, Texas, who were all a stroke off Knodt’s pace after Saturday’s first round.
After the conclusion of the second round 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.
Story written by Beth Murrison of the USGA Museum staff. For questions or comments, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.