Giles Defies Age, Joins Three Others in Semifinal Round
By Ken Klavon, USGA
Chicago – At 66 years old, Vinny Giles doesn’t feel like he’s lost much on his golf game. He lamented after his third-round victory over co-medalist Paul Simson, however, that he does notice that as he grows older, there’s a wider disparity in his game compared to someone a decade younger. Still, he joked that at least he has the experience factor going for him.
No one would dare disagree with the 1972 U.S. Amateur champion, but so far this week at Beverly Country Club Giles is proving any age discrepancy to be a myth.
In his USGA Senior Amateur quarterfinal match Wednesday against William Doughtie of Amarillo, Texas, Giles showed yet another ‘young-in’ that he’s not quite over the hill. In reaching the semifinal round, to also be conducted Wednesday afternoon on the 6,672-yard, par-71 Donald Ross layout, Giles has mowed down Doughtie, Simson, Bob Harrington, Tom Studer.
All of them are 56 years old.
Giles sent Doughtie home with a 2-and-1 lesson. He’ll meet – cue the creepy music – yet another 56-year-old in John Pallin of Kenosha, Wis., who eliminated Michael Walters, 61, of Tampa, Fla., 2 up. In the other semifinal match, 2004 champion Mark Bemowski, 63, of Mukwonago, Wis., will face 61-year-old John Grace of Fort Worth, Texas.
“When I got out today, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Giles, who has lost in the quarterfinals three times. “I had a screwball night and didn’t sleep good.”
It didn’t show. Giles came out with the same mind-set he’s had in every match: try to avoid bogeys. He suffered one, playing the equivalent of level-par golf, with all the normal match-play concessions. The bogey bugaboo caught Doughtie and turned the match on the inward nine. Doughtie, who made the cut in the 2004 U.S. Senior Open, lost the 13th, 14th and 15th holes, bogeying two of them.
At No. 13, Doughtie had a 12-foot downhill putt that picked up too much speed and sped 5 feet by the hole. He missed the comebacker.
“That really turned the match,” said Doughtie.
Giles felt that, despite heavy winds at times, his ball-striking was the best it’s been all week. Should he win, Giles would go 37 years between winning USGA titles. Giles is looking to join William C. Campbell as the only players to have won a U.S. Amateur and USGA Senior Amateur title.
Another competitor to get bit by the bogey bug was past champion, Greg Reynolds, 62, of Grand Blanc, Mich. He dropped a 3-and-1 decision to Grace. Reynolds lost the fourth, fifth and sixth holes with bogeys after his putter defied him. On No. 5, his mid-range putt lipped out.
“Every time I had the chance to make something happen,” said Reynolds, “I couldn’t get anything to happen.”
Said Grace, who absorbed one three-putt: “That was the difference in the match. I won by three holes and it all happened when he bogeyed that stretch of holes.”
Bemowski advanced after getting past 2006 champion, Mike Bell, 62, of Indianapolis, Ind., 2 and 1. Their match turned on the ninth and 10th holes, which Bemowski won and grabbed a 1-up lead. Bemowski, also a two-time runner-up, birdied the 11th hole and pushed his lead to 2 up after Bell’s 10-footer lipped out.
After halving No. 15, which left Bell shaking his head in disappointment when his 33-foot birdie attempt sailed wide, and the 16th, Bell found himself in a must-make situation on the sloped 17th green. As soon he struck his downhill 39-foot putt, he immediately walked over and shook the hand of Bemowski.
Pallin, clinging to a 1-up margin entering the 18th hole, blocked his drive and the ball swooped into a cluster of trees in the left rough. He used a hybrid to find the green. With Walters on the front fringe of the green, he needed to hole out to force extra holes. That didn’t happen.
“I figured if I got a 5, I’d win,” said Pallin, who won the hole with a par.
Getting this far seemed to surprise Pallin, but the two-time Wisconsin State Amateur winner said he’s played more competitions this summer than normal.
The USGA Senior Amateur will begin the semifinal round at 2 p.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by the 18-hole final Thursday morning.
Ken Klavon is the USGA’s Editor of Digital Media. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.