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Thursday, June 23, 2016

A near miss for Thompson in U.S. Senior Open qualifier at Applebrook

   Overbrook Golf Club’s Ray Thompson looked pretty ticked off when he failed to make a playoff for match play by a shot on BMW Philadelphia Amateur qualifying day last week at Merion Golf Club’s famed East Course and Philadelphia Country Club.
   So he probably wasn’t too thrilled to come up just short Wednesday in a qualifier at Applebrook Golf Club for the U.S. Senior Open, which will be played Aug. 11 to 14 at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.
   The 64-year-old Thompson, a Drexel Hill resident and Overbrook Golf Club member, carded a 1-over 72 over the windswept, 6,795-yard, par-71 Applebrook layout and ended up in a five-man playoff for the final ticket to Scioto. He did not survive the playoff.
   Thompson remains one of the top senior amateur players in the country while playing in the shadow of Chip Lutz, the Reading resident who just might be the best senior amateur player in the world. Lutz is the reigning six-time Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Player of the Year.
In 2013, Thompson, a Marple Newtown and Florida State product, lost to Lutz in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Senior Amateur at Wade Hampton Country Club in Cashiers, N.C. A year later, Thompson reached the second round of the Senior Amateur at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif. Last fall, Thompson again reached the second round of match play before falling in 19 holes at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
   Lutz, who plays out of LedgeRock Golf Club, won the U.S. Senior Amateur title at Hidden Creek, adding that crown to his two British Senior Amateur and one Canadian Senior Amateur titles. Pretty sure that U.S. Senior Amateur win gives Lutz a ticket to this year’s Senior Open at Scioto.
   A couple of senior pros with lengthy resumes shared medalist honors Wednesday at Applebrook.
Bobby Gage, who has given up the touring life for a job in the pro shop at Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, Mass., and Lonnie Nielsen, who has two PGA Tour Champions wins to his credit, each carded a 2-under 69 to tie for the qualifying medal.
   The 50-year-old Gage, a veteran of many years on the Web.com and PGA tours, credited his Applebrook looper Lou Topper with keeping him on track on the windy layout.
   The 62-year-old Nielsen, who played six years on the PGA Tour, will be making his eighth trip to the U.S. Senior Open.
   Arnold Cutrell, a 51-year-old amateur from Greensburg, was the survivor of the 5-for-1 playoff. Cutrell rolled in a five-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Applebrook to get into the playoff and won the sixth hole of the playoff with a two-putt par on that same hole to earn a trip to Scioto.
Also in that group at 1-over 72 was John Allen, a Media resident and an assistant pro at Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
   Dave Quinn, a pro at the Links Golf Club in Marlton, N.J., carded a 3-over 74.
   Gene Fieger, who dominated the Philadelphia Section PGA as an assistant pro at Overbrook in the 1990s, came home to give the Senior Open qualifier at Applebrook a try and carded a 4-over 75. Fieger, who manages the Hideout Golf Club in Naples, Fla., won the 2013 PGA Senior Professional National Championship at the PGA Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
   He was joined at that figure by Wayne resident and GAP veteran P. Chet Walsh.
   Dave McNabb, the host pro at Applebrook, checked in with a 77. He was joined at that figure by LuLu Country Club amateur Glenn Smerglio, who made it to match play in the Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek last fall.
   Veteran Overbrook amateur Oscar Mestre and Stu Ingraham, the head of instruction at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, were among the group at 78.

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