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USGA Senior Amateur Storylines

USGA championships at Beverly Country Club
This is the second USGA championship hosted by Beverly Country Club, which was also the site of the 1931 U.S. Amateur. Francis Ouimet, the 1913 U.S. Open and 1914 U.S. Amateur champion, defeated Jack Westland, a three-time Chicago District Amateur champion, 6 and 5, to place his name on the Havemeyer Trophy for a second time.

States represented (44)

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada,  New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Foreign countries represented (2)

Bermuda, Canada

Past Champions in the field (8)

There are eight former USGA Senior Amateur champions in the field, including a pair of two-time winners in Kemp Richardson (2001, 2003) and Bill Shean Jr. (1998, 2000), who is a member of host Beverly Country Club. The other past champions in the field: Bill Ploeger (1999), Greg Reynolds (2002), Mark Bemowski (2004), Mike Rice (2005), Mike Bell (2006) and Stanford Lee (2007).

Players from Illinois in the field (6)
Mike Heffner (Westchester), Ken Highlander (Edwardsville), Daniel Houlihan (Rockford), Bill Leonard (Downers Grove), Bill Shean Jr. (Hinsdale), Tom Studer (Joliet)

Illinois champion
Bill Shean Jr. was the last player from Illinois to win the USGA Senior Amateur, beating Richard Van Leuvan in the 2000 final at Charlotte (N.C.) Country Club. Shean also won the last Senior Amateur held in Illinois (1998 at Skokie C.C.).

Oldest competitor in the field
Bill Ploeger (69)

Biographical details of select competitors

Buddy Alexander, 56, of Gainesville, Fla., was the 1986 U.S. Amateur champion and is the head golf coach at the Univ. of Florida. He played on the 1987 USA Walker Cup Team.

Kevin Arnold, 56, of Hilton Head Island, S.C. is an NCAA Women’s Basketball referee. He won the Naismith Award as the Women’s College Basketball Official of the Year in 1998. 

Mike Bell, 62, of Indianapolis, Ind., was the 2006 USGA Senior Amateur champion.

Mark Bemowski, 63, of Mukwonago, Wis., was the 2004 USGA Senior Amateur champion and is a six-time Wisconsin State Amateur champion.

John Benson, 58, of Punxsutawney, Pa. is a retired chicken farmer and had open heart surgery in December 2008.

Kurt Bernhisel, 57, of Salt Lake City, Utah, is an emergency physician at the University of Utah Medical Center. He won a three-person playoff to gain entry into his first USGA Championship.

Dan Beiber, 56, of Alamo, Calif., played in the 2009 U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick G.C. in Carmel, Ind. He shot 78-76 to miss the cut.

Donald Bliss, 58, of Chesterfield, Mo., is a four-time Missouri Amateur champion. He made two holes-in-one in the same round during the 1987 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.  

Alan Bouchard, 63, of Falmouth, Maine, serves on the Executive Committee of the New England Golf Association and is a member of the University of Southern Maine Athletic Hall of Fame.

Norton Brick, 56, of Elyria, Ohio, has played in two U.S. Senior Opens (2003, 2005). He had hip replacement surgery 19 months ago. 

Robert Brunetti, 57, of Goshen, Conn., is a Superior Court judge for the state of Connecticut. He made his first hole-in-one at age 51 -- 40 years after he first began playing golf. This is his first USGA championship.

Graham Cooke, 62, of Canada, won the Canadian Senior Amateur Championship on Monday. He also finished second at the 2009 British Amateur Championship. 

John Darr, 62, of Gainesville, Fla., was a member of the University of Florida men’s golf team that won the 1968 NCAA Championship. One of his teammates was 1969 U.S. Amateur champion Steve Melnyk. He later became the Gators’ head golf coach.  

Tom Elfers, 59, of Cincinnati, Ohio, is the women’s golf coach at Xavier University and is a two-time Ohio Mid-Amateur champion.

Frank Ellenburg, 56, of Chandler, Ariz., competed on the Professional Bowlers Tour from 1976 to 1991, won two national tournaments, and has been a professional bowler for 35 years. This is his first USGA championship.

Frank Ford III, 57, of Charleston, S.C., was a USGA Senior Amateur semifinalist in each of the last two years and is a South Carolina Golf Hall of Famer.  

Vinny Giles, 66, of Richmond, Va., was a quarterfinalist in the 2008 USGA Senior Amateur and was the 1972 U.S. Amateur champion. He is also a four-time USA Walker Cup Team player.

John Grace, 61, of Fort Worth, Texas, made the quarterfinals of the 2008 USGA Senior Amateur in his hometown, but was defeated by eventual champion Buddy Marucci. He was a member of the victorious 1975 USA Walker Cup Team.

Ian Harris, 56, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is the tennis professional at Franklin Athletic Club and is a former world-ranked tennis player who competed at Wimbledon and in the French Open.

Bob Harrington, 56, of Portland, Ore., is a past president of the Oregon Golf Association and has been on the OGA Executive Committee for the past 24 years.

Mike Heffner, 56, of Westchester, Ill., had a 17-year competitive bowling career before picking up golf at age 32. He has bowled more than 20 perfect 300 games and once held the highest bowling average in Chicago. He won the River Forest Club Championship in 2005. This is his first USGA championship. 

Jerry Horton, 55, of Hightstown, N.J., claims he has played 404 golf courses in 24 states and seven countries. 

Daniel Houlihan, 57, of Rockford, Ill., is a local urologist playing in his first USGA championship.

Chuck Ingram, 55, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., is an assistant basketball coach at NCAA Division II Shepherd University.

Herb Jensen, 60, of Carmichael, Calif., holed a 117-yard shot for an eagle in a four-person playoff to win the last available spot in the Millbrae, Calif., sectional qualifier.

Gary Johnson, 62, of Eden Prairie, Minn., recorded his first hole-in-one in 2007 in his 50th year of playing golf. He spent $250 buying rounds of drinks for his friends in the clubhouse bar afterward. He is the former director of the Minnesota Golf Association and won the 2009 Minnesota Senior Players Championship.

Michael Jonson, 61, of Sammamish, Wash., was the last player to gain entry into the field, after having been the first alternate from the Gig Harbor, Wash., sectional qualifier. The only other USGA championship he has played in was the 1965 U.S. Junior Amateur. He is the tournament director for the Sahalee Players Championship.  
Bob Kain, 60, of Hunting Valley, Ohio, qualified by winning a playoff with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Kirtland C.C. He did the same thing to qualify for the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur. He is married to 1984 Olympic Figure Skating Silver Medalist Rosalyn Sumners and is the former CEO of IMG Sports Agency and chairman of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

Mark Kedy, 55, of Ada, Okla., was the 2003 National High School Golf Coach of the Year at Ada High School.

Bill King, 55, of Phoenix, Ariz., was Ryan Hybl’s caddie at the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. Hybl was the runner-up, losing 1-down in the final match to Dave Womack.  

Weir King, 55, of Stuart, Fla., is the brother of two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Betsy King.

Murray Krambeer, 58, of Belleville, Neb., is retired from the U.S. Department of Defense. He is on the Volunteer Committee for the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Stephen Larson, 55, of Des Moines, Iowa, is the deputy treasurer for the state of Iowa. 

Stanford Lee, 57, of Tumbling Shoals, Ark., was the 2007 USGA Senior Amateur champion. He is a member of the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame.

Jerry Maras, 55, of San Clemente, Calif., is related to former Yankees outfielder Roger Maris. His father and Maris were cousins. 

Dom Marsh, 65, of Alpharetta, Ga., was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service for the United States in the Vietnam War as a helicopter pilot.

Mike Metz, 58, of Charleston, S.C., is blind in his right eye.

Robert Morris, 62, of Great Falls, Va., is the Vice-Chairman and Founder of Billy Casper Golf.

Bob Munoz, 55, of Phoenix, Ariz., had liver transplant surgery in 2004. 

Randy Nichols, 56, of Brookville, Ind., was a semifinalist in the 2008 USGA Senior Amateur and is a member of the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame.

Steve Pelzl, 58, of Aberdeen, S.D., won the 2007 Dakota Open, four months after having double-bypass heart surgery.

Bill Ploeger, 69, of Columbus, Ga., was the 1999 USGA Senior Amateur champion and is a member of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.

Jack Rector, 63, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., is a retired U.S. Navy Captain and earned two Legions of Merit. 

Randy Reifers, 62, of Columbus, Ohio, is the father of 2005 USA Walker Cup player Kyle Reifers. He was the low amateur at the 2006 U.S. Senior Open.

Greg Reynolds, 62, of Grand Blanc, Mich., was the 2002 USGA Senior Amateur champion and played the first two rounds of the 2005 U.S. Senior Open with Arnold Palmer. He is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

Mike Rice, 69, of Houston, Texas, was the 2005 USGA Senior Amateur champion.

Kemp Richardson, 63, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., won the 2001 and 2003 USGA Senior Amateur championships.

Joe Robinson, 58, of Rock Hill, S.C. is an obstetrician and estimates he has delivered over 10,000 babies.

Bill Shean Jr., 66, of Hinsdale, Ill., won the 1998 and 2000 USGA Senior Amateur championships, and is a member of Beverly Country Club. He also won the 1999 British Senior Amateur.

Karl Simon, 62, of Lawrenceville, Ga., was a fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in 1966, and played in the minor leagues for four years.

Paul Simson, 59, of Raleigh, N.C., is playing in his 46th career USGA championship and fourth USGA Senior Amateur. This year marks the 25th consecutive year that he has competed in a USGA championship and he was the low amateur at the 2001 U.S. Senior Open. He won the 2006 and 2008 Senior British Amateur championships.  

Randy Sonnier, 61, of Houston, Texas, played on the 1985 USA Walker Cup Team and for the United States in the 1984 World Amateur Team Championship. He is a two-time Texas State Amateur champion.

Allan Small, 58, of Florham Park, N.J., is the president of the Metropolitan Golf Association and was the Seton Hall University Golf Coach from 1991-96. His team won the 1992 Big East Championship.

Neil Spitalny, 58, of in Chattanooga, Tenn., is an orthopedic surgeon. He won the New York State Junior Amateur Championship in 1967 and was the captain of the Univ. of Michigan golf team in 1973.

John Stewart, 55, of Birmingham, Ala., was drafted by the Montreal Canadians in 1974 and briefly played in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques. He was also an extra in the movie “Slapshot” starring Paul Newman.

Louis Stone, 58, of New Haven, Conn., has a unique golf swing that he calls the “step-in method,” where he steps into his drives like a baseball player.

Pat Tallent, 56, of Vienna, Va., was the low amateur at the 2004 U.S. Senior Open and was an All-American basketball player at George Washington University. 

Robert Vallis, 56, of Bermuda, won the 2009 British Senior Amateur championship.

Martin West, 61, of Rockville, Md., was a member of the 1973 and 1979 USA Walker Cup Teams.

Steve Whittaker, 56, of Becker, Minn., chips the ball one-handed and practices putting in his basement during the winter.

Dave Williamson, 57, of Ladoga, Ind., is a member of the Indiana State Coaches Golf Hall of Fame. His son Lee plays on the Nationwide Tour.

Tom Yellin, 56, of New York, N.Y., is the President and Executive Producer at The Documentary Group and has won several Emmy Awards and Peabody Awards for his work as a journalist.

Bruce Walters, 62, of Lexington, Ky., spends his winters in Orlando, Fla., and is a member of Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club. 

Martin West, 61, of Rockville, Md., played on the 1973 and 1979 USA Walker Cup Teams and for the United States in the 1972 World Amateur Team Championship. He is a nine-time Maryland State Amateur champion.

George Zahringer, 56, of New York, N.Y., was the runner-up at the 2008 USGA Senior Amateur championship, and was the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. He also played on the 2003 USA Walker Cup Team.

Storylines compiled by Dave Fanucchi - USGA media contact for the 2009 USGA Senior Amateur Championship. He can be reached at



Championship Facts
PAR AND YARDAGE – Beverly Country Club will play at 6,654/6,672 yards and a par of 36-35—71.

ARCHITECT – Beverly Country Club was designed by George O’Neil and opened in 1908. Donald Ross redesigned the course in 1918. A renovation of the course, guided by golf course architect Ron Prichard, was completed in 2008.

COURSE AND SLOPE RATING – The USGA Course Rating® for the Senior Amateur at Beverly Country Club is 72.7 and USGA Slope Rating® is 133.

USGA AND ILLINOIS – The 2009 USGA Senior Amateur will be the 57th championship conducted in the state of Illinois, ranking it fourth among states hosting the most USGA championships. The last USGA championship in the state was the 2007 U.S. Amateur Public Links at Cantigny Golf Club in Wheaton. The Senior Amateur is making its fifth appearance in Illinois (1962, 1973, 1979, 1998).


Saturday, Sept. 12 — First round, stroke play (18 holes)

Sunday, Sept. 13 — Second round, stroke play (18 holes)

Monday, Sept. 14 — First round, match play (18 holes)

Tuesday, Sept. 15 — Second round, match play (18 holes); Third round, match play (18 holes)

Wednesday, Sept. 16 — Quarterfinals, match play (18 holes); Semifinals, match play (18 holes)

Thursday, Sept. 17 — Final, match play (18 holes)

ADMISSION IS FREE – Admission and parking is free. Tickets are not needed for this USGA championship and spectators are encouraged to attend.

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