(Eugene, Ore.) - Jeff Wilson continued to add to his ever-growing treasure chest of USGA medals on Sunday at Eugene Country Club.
Wilson is now the only competitor in USGA history to have medaled in the U.S. Amateur (twice), the U.S. Mid-Amateur (thrice) and the U.S. Senior Amateur. He’s also one of two players to earn low-amateur honors in the U.S. Open (2000) and U.S. Senior Open (2018), joining Marvin “Vinny” Giles III, who at 75 years of age was the oldest competitor in this week’s Senior Amateur – Giles missed the cut.
“It’s not something that you start out to get, but they are sure nice to have,” said Wilson of his now eight medals. He also earned a bronze medal for being a semifinalist in the 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur. “I was just happy I played solidly, and I’m looking forward to match play.”
The only thing seemingly missing from Wilson’s remarkable portfolio is a USGA title. In addition to Wilson’s semifinal run in the U.S. Mid-Amateur, he reached the quarterfinals of the championship in 2000 and 2004. Earlier this summer, he won the Southern California Golf Association Mid-Amateur and lost in a playoff in the Northern California Golf Association Mid-Amateur, both stroke-play competitions. He also was the runner-up in the 2009 California Amateur at Pebble Beach, which is a combination of stroke play and match play.
“It’s hard,” said Wilson of match play. “I think I made it to the semifinals [once] in the [U.S.] Mid-Am and in the U.S. Amateur. I’m either the medalist or down the road somewhere. I don’t know. Hopefully this year will be different.”
Both Condon and Wilson will be looking to end a 31-year medalist drought in the U.S. Senior Amateur. The last medalist to hoist the trophy was John Richardson in 1987.
But neither competitor is looking past Monday’s first round of match play. Condon will go into the Round of 64 fresh of a two-birdie, two-bogey effort on Sunday.
“I was driving the ball really well yesterday,” said Condon, who has his son, Luke, serving as his caddie. “Today, not so great. So, I need to go fix that. Other than that, it’s really just consistency. There’s a lot of trouble spots out there and I’ve been really good at staying away from those.”
Joe Palmer, 56, of West Des Moines, Iowa, finished three strokes back at 142 after shooting a 4-under 68 on Sunday.
Following two stroke-play rounds, the field was trimmed to the low 64 scorers for match play, which begins Monday. Competitors must win six matches, including Thursday’s 18-hole championship match, to hoist the trophy.
Co-medalist Greg Condon, of Monte Vista, Colo., on Eugene Country Club:
“My hat’s off to everyone here. This golf course is just fabulous. I don’t play on courses like this. It’s like a slice of heaven.”
Co-medalist Jeff Wilson, of Fairfield, Calif., on the continuation of his strong play this summer:
“I just feel like I am a little more comfortable and I feel like I can recover right now. I feel if I keep hanging in there, I am going to be somewhere OK.”
Wilson on the disappointment of not making match play at last week’s U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach:
“It wasn’t even the kids. I was more intimidated having [18-time major champion] Jack Nicklaus watching me (son Gary was in his grouping during stroke play). It was probably a four-shot penalty, but I wouldn’t trade it. It was pretty cool having him out there.”
Joe Palmer, of West Des Moines, Iowa, (2-under 142) on going six strokes better in Round 2:
“I just hit the ball really well. I made some good putts, but at the same time I hit it close enough. I played the par 3s well in the last two days on the front side. No. 2, I played 1 under. That could easily be the hardest hole on the course. Those can kickstart your round right there. I just hit really good iron shots and kept the ball in play and didn’t get in trouble. I felt good today.”
Sean Knapp, of Oakmont, Pa., (8-over 152) on his expectations as the defending champion:
“As much as you want to go out and shoot two good scores, I think it’s more important to know if you are trending the right direction. Are you playing well. I really feel like I am.”
Knapp on his play the first two days:
“I don’t know what happened out there, but it was kind of a continuation of what happened at Spyglass [Hill during the recent U.S. Amateur]. I’m just kind of in a rut, scoring-wise. That’s golf. You can’t get too frustrated with it. Everybody has a story about how bad things went for them. And I am not going to jump on that bandwagon.”
The cut for match play came at 8-over 152 with 14 golfers playing off for 13 spots. The playoff began on No. 10 and lasted one hole. Mike Cline, of Carmel, Ind., was the odd man out with a double bogey.
Richard Jeffers, of Mobile, Ala., birdied his final two holes (17 and 18) to get into the playoff.
Only five players finished under par for the 36-hole, stroke-play portion of the championship: Greg Condon, Jeff Wilson, Joe Palmer, Jack Larkin and Frank Vana Jr.
Past U.S. Senior Amateur champions Chip Lutz, George “Buddy” Marucci, Paul Simson, Dave Ryan, Sean Knapp and Doug Hanzel all advanced to match play. The lone past champion to not qualify was Marvin “Vinny” Giles III. Other USGA champions to qualify are Tim Jackson (1994 and 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Mike McCoy (2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Larkin (1979 U.S. Junior Amateur) and Stewart “Buddy” Alexander (1986 U.S. Amateur). Guy Yamamoto, the 1994 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, failed to qualify.
John Grace, 70, of Fort Worth, Texas, is the oldest competitor to qualify for match play. Grace was the 1974 U.S. Amateur runner-up and represented the USA in the 1975 Walker Cup Match. Louis Brown, of Marietta, Ga., who turned 55 a day before the championship started, is the youngest to advance.
All three players who go by “Buddy” qualified. Other than Marucci and Alexander, Buddy Patch, of Fairfax Station, Va., advanced.
The Round of 64 will begin at 7:50 a.m. PT on Monday. The winner of each match will advance to Tuesday's Round of 32, which will begin at 7 a.m. The Round of 16 will take place Tuesday afternoon.