Overbrook Golf Club’s Ray Thompson, who has reached match play in the last three U.S. Senior Amateurs, carded a 5-over-par 76 on a gusty Saturday down the shore at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. in the opening round of qualifying of the 2015 edition of the U.S. Senior Amateur.
That puts the Drexel Hill resident right on the edge in the battle for the 64 spots in match play heading into Sunday’s second round of qualifying. He is one of 17 players tied for 59th at that figure and weather-wise it looks like more of the same Sunday with a coastal low hanging off the South Jersey coast.
Reading’s Chip Lutz, who can pretty much nail down a sixth straight Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Player of the Year award with a strong showing at Hidden Creek, is in the hunt for the qualifying medal after matching par with a 71 and is tied for fifth. Tim Jackson, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, carded a 3-under 68 over the 6,864-yard, par-71 Hidden Creek layout to take a two-shot lead over three players.
Lutz, a two-time British Senior Amateur champion, was joined at even-par by another GAP player, Five Ponds Golf Club’s Brian Rothaus.
Buddy Marucci, who won this title in 2008 in between captaining the U.S. team to Walker Cup victories in 2007 and 2009, is also in good shape for making match play after posting a 2-over 73. That puts Marucci, a Haverford High product, in a tie for 17th. Marucci is also a member at Merion Golf Club and Merion’s historic East Course is where the 2009 U.S. Walker Cup victory he captained was achieved.
Thomas Hyland of Little Mill Country Club is another shot back of Marucci at 3-over 74 in a tie for 28th. White Manor Country Club’s Don Donatoni, GAP’s reigning two-time Super-Senior Player of the Year, carded a 77, Lancaster Country Club’s Kenneth Phillips posted a 78, and Mercer Oaks Golf Club’s Glenn Smeraglio, who came into this event as a contender for GAP Senior Player of the Year, had a 79.
Pretty sure Thompson, a Marple Newtown product, started his round on the back nine at Hidden Creek Saturday and it was an adventurous first nine holes that included five bogeys and a birdie at the par-3 11th.
Thompson, 63 years young, settled down on the front nine with two bogeys and a key birdie at the par-5 ninth that enabled him to finish at 5-over. Thompson may need to go a little lower in Sunday’s second round to keep his streak of making match play at the U.S. Senior Amateur alive.