It took 19 holes in the second round of match play, but Ray Thompson’s bid in the U.S. Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek Golf Club was finally halted by Bill Leonard of Dallas, Ga. Tuesday morning.
It was a see-saw match all day and Leonard pulled ahead with a par at the 15th hole. But Thompson, a 63-year-old Overbrook Golf Club member, had to have a good vibe heading to the par-5 17th hole at the 6,480-yard, par-71 Hidden Creek layout in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
Thompson, a Drexel Hill resident and Marple Newtown graduate, had eagled the hole Sunday in a final surge that secured him a spot in match play and birdied it Monday to get a nose in front in what had been an all-square match with Ben Brundred of Potomac, Md. Thompson won the 18th to claim a 2-up win in that match.
Thompson got a key birdie again at 17 Tuesday to draw even with Leonard before they halved the 18th hole with pars and headed back to the first tee. Leonard made birdie on the first hole to end the match, Thompson’s birdie putt coming up a half-a-roll short of sending it to a 20th hole.
Chip Lutz, the reigning five-time Senior Player of the Year, will carry the Golf Association of Philadelphia banner into the quarterfinals, however.
Lutz of LedgeRock Golf Club dropped a birdie putt on the 18th hole to put away a stubborn Curtis Skinner of Lake Bluff, Ill., 2-up in a Tuesday afternoon round-of-16 match.
Lutz, who probably secured a sixth straight GAP Senior Player of the Year award with his showing at Hidden Creek, will face Randal Lewis, the qualifying medalist from Alma, Mich. in a match scheduled to tee off at 7:30 Wednesday morning. Lewis downed Leonard, 1-up, in his round-of-16 match.
So if Thompson had been able to get past Leonard, he would have just needed to beat Lewis for another quarterfinal showdown with Lutz, who beat Thompson in the quarterfinals of the 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur championship at Wade Hampton Country Club in Cashiers, N.C.
Lutz, a two-time winner of the British Senior Amateur championship, has made the semifinals at the U.S. Senior Amateur three times, but never won.
Two other GAP representatives went out in the second round along with Thompson. Thomas Hyland of Little Mill Country Club suffered a 7 and 6 setback at the hands of Don DuBois of Newport Beach, Calif. and Brian Rothaus of Five Ponds Golf Club was edged, 1-up, by Kevin Cahill of Waukesha, Wis.
In what had to be one of the marquee matches of Monday’s opening round, Jim Holtgrieve of St. Louis (U.S. Walker Cup captain in 2011 and 2013) defeated Merion Golf Club’s Buddy Marucci (U.S. Walker Cup captain in 2007 and 2009, the latter a memorable U.S. win at Merion’s historic East Course), 4 and 3.
Another first-round casualty was Glenn Smeraglio of Mercer Oaks Golf Club, who fell, 4 and 3, to Gary Robinson of Fayetteville, N.C.
Marucci wasn’t the only Merion member to make match play in a U.S. Senior Amateur event this week.
Liz Haines, who has been a good player forever (she owns Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur titles from 1985 and 1994), reached match play in the Women’s Senior Amateur, being held at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville, Tenn.
Haines, a Gladwyne resident, had rounds of 77 and 82 to finish in a tie for 35th in qualifying.
Facing Beatriz Arenas of Guatemala in the opening round Monday, Haines was 4-down after seven holes and fought back to get within 1-down after 13 before falling 3 and 2.