Just when you think Stu Ingraham, the head of instruction at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, has to be slowing down at age 57, he does something like make the cut on the number and play the weekend at the U.S. Senior Open, remarkably the first United States Golf Association event in which he has played.
His second round at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass. was no picnic either. He was scheduled for a late tee time and a weather suspension made it a certainty that he wasn’t going to complete his round.
And he didn’t. Starting on the back nine Friday, Ingraham stood at 3-over for the championship by the time he got to the first tee for his final nine holes. A birdie at the 153-yard, par-3 third got him to 2-over. When darkness fell, Ingraham had three holes to play.
Perhaps the only advantage to Ingraham’s situation was that when he returned to the golf course to finish his second round Saturday morning, he probably knew exactly what he needed to do to make the cut. He needed a birdie on one of those last three holes.
He got it on his last hole, the 448-yard, par-4 ninth. I never saw the hole, but it sounds like a monster, not exactly the kind of hole you want to play when you absolutely have to have a three. But he got it to complete a 1-under 69 that made the cut on the number at 1-over 141.
It was probably a pretty quick turnaround to start Round 3 and Ingraham promptly went out and fired an even-par 70 over the par-70 Salem layout that measured anywhere from 6,769 yards to 6,809 yards depending on the whims of USGA executive director and mad scientist of golf course setup Mike Davis.
If you made it the end of my Saturday post on Brynn Walker, you caught my observation that there Ingraham stood on the U.S. Senior Open leaderboard, tied for 39th at 1-over 211 with the likes of Tom Watson and Colin Montgomerie.
Ingraham might have been a little out of gas in Sunday’s final round. He made six bogeys against a lone birdie at the 12th for a final round of 5-over 75 that left him tied for 49th at 6-over 286.
But how good is top 50 against the top senior professionals in the world? Kenny Perry, at age 56, went out and demolished Salem to the tune of 16-under 264, two shots better than Kirk Triplett, who scorched Salem for an 8-under 62 in the opening round. These guys who play the PGA Tour Champions are no joke.
Ingraham’s effort highlighted a foursome of senior standouts the Philadelphia area sent up to Peabody, Mass.
Reading’s Chip Lutz, named by Global Golf Post as the top male amateur golfer in the world in 2016, carded a 1-under 69 in the second round to miss the cut by two shots at 3-over 143. A year ago at Scioto Country Club, the reigning seven-time Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Player of the Year was the only amateur to make the cut.
The U.S. Senior Open was a bit later in the summer last year – last summer’s tournament schedule was hopelessly muddled by golf’s return to the Summer Olympics, although I would argue it was totally worth it – and came after Lutz claimed his third Seniors Amateur Championship in England.
I suspect the U.S. Senior Open will serve as a tuneup for Lutz this year for The Seniors Amateur Championship. The 62-year-old Lutz has been making the trip across the pond pretty regularly in recent years. I’m pretty sure his Seniors Amateur win gets him in the British Senior Open, which gets under way July 26 at Royal Portcawl. The Seniors Amateur tees off Aug. 9 at Sunningdale Golf Club’s Old Course.
Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb added a second-round 72 to his opening-round 74 to miss the cut at 6-over 146.
It’s really been a remarkable year for McNabb, who teed it up in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va. in May. The 51-year-old then nearly won the PGA Professional Championship at the Sunriver Resort in Oregon, falling in a playoff with Omar Uresti.
That runnerup finish did get McNabb into the PGA Championship, which tees off Aug. 10 at The Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. You think there will be many players who tee it up in both the Senior PGA and the PGA championships in 2017? Me neither. Vijay probably. Not many others. McNabb has already played in two PGA Tour Champions majors and the PGA is a young guys’ major.
In the middle of all that, McNabb fired a 5-under 65 at Argyle Country Club in Silver Spring, Md. to punch his ticket to the U.S. Senior Open. Ingraham was a shot behind him at Argyle with a 66.
The last of the local seniors at Salem was John Pillar, the director of golf at The Country Club at Woodloch Springs. Pillar opened with a solid 2-over 72 and added a 75 in the second round to miss the cut at 7-over 147.
It’s been a pretty good year for Pillar as well. He earned a trip to a sectional qualifier on the road to the U.S. Open and he was also part of the Philadelphia Section PGA contingent, along with McNabb and Ingraham, among others, in the PGA Professional Championship at Sunriver.