62nd U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, conducted by the United States Golf Association
(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) – Tim Jackson shot a 4-under-par 67 on Sunday to finish at 4-under 138 and earn medalist honors in the 62nd U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, being contested at the 6,799-yard, par-71 Old Warson Country Club.
Jackson, 57, of Germantown, Tenn., earned medalist honors for the second time in a USGA championship. He was the medalist in the 2009 U.S. Amateur, at 50 years old the oldest medalist in that championship’s history.
A veteran of dozens of USGA championships – he won the 1994 and 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateurs and competed for the 1995 and 1999 USA Walker Cup Teams – Jackson understands that winning a medal guarantees nothing come Monday.
"Well, you beat everybody; you get a medal, so it means something. Other than that, I don't think it means that much,” said Jackson, who lost, 1 up, to eventual champion Chip Lutz last year as the No. 4 seed in this championship. “How many times have you seen the 64 seed beat the 1 seed? It happens a lot. You put that out of your mind tomorrow and warm up on the range the way you always warm up."
Jackson’s 4-under 67 tied for the lowest score of the championship. He made five birdies against one bogey in the round, highlighted by a 40-foot putt on No. 5 (his 14th hole). He then birdied No. 6 to move to 5 under for the day.
“That felt like stealing,” said Jackson of his long putt. “I knew then that I was two ahead of [Randal Lewis] and had a par 5 next. A three-stroke lead with three to play is a good place to be.”
Lewis, 59, of Alma, Mich., and Joe Russo, 59, of Sewell, N.J., the co-leaders after first-round 68s, both followed with 1-over 72s on Sunday to finish two strokes behind Jackson. While Lewis, who in 2011 became the oldest champion in U.S. Mid-Amateur history and medaled in this championship last year, is accustomed to being at the top of the leader board, Russo was in uncharted waters.
"I haven't been in this position before where I'm near the top, trying to be the medalist,” said Russo, who admitted to being very nervous on Saturday. “I thought my nerves were worse today than yesterday."
Tim Sheppard, 55, of East Peoria, Ill., and Randy Haag, 57, of Orinda, Calif., were the only other players to finish under par instroke play at 1-under 141. Sheppard shot 3-under 68 on Sunday with three birdies and no bogeys. Haag played steadily all weekend, following up Saturday’s 70 with a 71.
"My play was fairly consistent,” said Haag, a sidesaddle putter. “I hit a lot of good shots off the tee. I hit a lot of good iron shots. And when I got into trouble, I did a good job getting it up and in."
Steven Liebler, 57, of Irmo, S.C., equaled Jackson’s 4-under 67 on Sunday. Liebler, a semifinalist in this championship last year, needed a strong day following Saturday’s 7-over 78 showing.
Liebler’s performance easily earned him a spot in the match-play draw. He made five birdies, but the highlight of his round was an eagle on the 435-yard, par-4 15th, which played as the most difficult hole with a 4.67 stroke average. Liebler hit a 3-hybrid from 200 yards that landed 25 feet short of the hole and rolled in.
The 67s shot by Jackson and Liebler were one stroke shy of the best individual stroke-play round in the three USGA championships contested at Old Warson, which also hosted the 1999 Mid-Amateur and 2009 Women’s Amateur championships. Sean Knapp shot 66 in the second round of the 1999 Mid-Amateur.
"I feel good about the score,” said Liebler. “The tradeoff between the eagle on 15 and the double bogey on 6 is about even. The score was probably representative of the way I played."
Defending champion Lutz, 61, of Reading, Pa., advanced to match play despite at one time sitting in a tie for 109th place after shooting 6-over 77 on Saturday and 3-over 39 on his first nine (Old Warson’s incoming nine) to fall to 9 over for the championship. However, Lutz rallied to shoot 2 under coming home, making birdies on Nos. 2 and 7 to finish at 7-over 149 in stroke play.
The inward nine at Old Warson has long been a trouble spot for Lutz, who shot 5-over 41 in that stretch on Saturday.
"The back nine has been my nemesis here. It was difficult for me in the 1999 Mid-Amateur,” said Lutz, who dropped into a playoff in the 1999 Mid-Amateur after shooting 42 coming in during the second round and failed to reach match play. “I played it poorly then, I played it poorly yesterday, and I didn't play it great today. But I'm moving in the right direction. At least I was only 3 over and kept it under 40 today. I hope that speaks well for my game going forward."
Danny Green, 59, of Jackson, Tenn., shot 4-over 146 to advance to match play. Green won the 1999 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Old Warson.
Other notable players to advance to match play include 1979 USA Walker Cup Team member Mike Peck, 60, of Irving, Texas; 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur champion Doug Hanzel, 59, of Savannah, Ga.; 2010 and 2012 U.S. Senior Amateur champion Paul Simson, 65, of Raleigh, N.C.; 2014 U.S. Senior Amateur champion Patrick Tallent, 63, of Vienna, Va.; 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur runner-up Tom Brandes, 60, of Bellevue, Wash.; and 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur champion and two-time USA Walker Cup Team competitor and captain George “Buddy” Marucci, 64, of Villanova, Pa.