Inside the Field: Previewing the U.S. Senior Amateur
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more eclectic field than the one assembled each year at the U.S. Senior Amateur, which gets underway Saturday at the Country Club of Detroit.
Where else can you find 13 former USGA champions, a software engineer for an aerospace company, two trained opera singers, a former professional bowler, a retired pulmonologist, a board-certified eye surgeon and ophthalmologist specializing in laser and refractive cataract surgery, someone who holds degrees in optometry and law, a college basketball official, the brother a former Super Bowl MVP, a former national long drive champion, the chairman of Augusta National, a player who has taken down Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy at the Masters and four guys who live in the same neighborhood in Iowa in the same field?
The answer? Only at the U.S. Senior Amateur at the Country Club of Detroit, where 55 gets you carded at the gates.
The one common denominator among the 156 players in this year’s field is they are all among the top senior amateur players in the world.
Bob Royak of Alpharetta, Ga. returns to defend the title he won two years ago at Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, NC, when he holed a 5-foot par putt on the 18th hole to defeat Roger Newsom, 1 up, in the final match. The 58-year- old Royak tuned up for his title defense by picking on the youngsters en route to winning the Georgia Mid-Amateur title in May.
Royak is looking forward to the challenge of defending his title.
“Going in I realize it’s tough to defend but nice to have confidence you’ve done it and know what it will take.
“I’ve actually had a nice short break in advance of next week so I’m feeling pretty good. I had a stretch from mid April to the U.S Amateur at Oakmont where I played in 15 events in 16 weeks. A lot of great experiences and a couple nice wins but probably a bit too much golf when I added in a trip to the UK qualifying for the Senior British Open. And many of those events were all walking rounds adding to some tired body parts.”
Gene Elliott, the top-ranked senior amateur player in the world as listed by Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com, would love nothing more to add a the U.S. Senior Amateur championship to his impressive resume which includes wins at the Canadian and British Senior Open championships.
On the side, Elliott will also be competing for low Iowan amateur honors, as he joins five others from the Hawkeye State in this year’s field, including Mike McCoy, Joe Palmer and Gary Ellis, who all live in the same neighborhood and play out of Echo Valley Country Club.
“The field is absolutely loaded,” said Elliott, who won the R&A Senior Amateur Championship in July at Ganton Golf Club. “I’ve played in many of these and I have a great appreciation how hard it is to win it.”
Elliott hopes to ride some of the momentum gained in England into the Country Club of Detroit, where he looks to join an elite list of players who have won the Canadian, British U.S. Senior Amateur titles.
“The British Senior Am was great, but in some ways, I feel like I’m playing better now that I was in England. I think some people may look at me a little differently now but I don’t feel any added pressure whatsoever.”
There is one major switch to Team Elliott. His wife Dalena, who was on Elliott’s bag for his win in England, will be replaced by Adam Hansen, who loops at the National Golf Links and Seminole Golf Club.
While Royak and Elliott are seasoned veterans, Gary Ellis, who also plays out of Echo Valley Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa, is eager to test the waters in his first U.S. Senior Amateur.
“I’ve caddied for a buddy for the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2018 but have never participated,” said Ellis. “Most of my ‘preparation’ has been centered around rearranging things at work to and going to my chiropractor and masseuse to get by my hip and back realigned and rehabbed in order to play.
“I will use the two practice rounds to hopefully figure out where NOT to hit it!”
U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at a Glance
When: Saturday through Thursday, Sept. 2
Where: Country Club of Detroit, Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.
Saturday-Sunday: Two rounds of stroke play
Monday-Tuesday: First three rounds of match play
Wednesday, Sept. 1:Match-play quarterfinals and semifinals
Thursday, Sept. 2: 18-hole championship match
Inside the Field
Oldest Competitors: Rick Woulfe (71, born 11-23-49), Paul Simson (70, born 5-10-51), Fred Ridley (69, born 8-16-52)
Youngest Competitors: Patrick Mohan (55, born 8-27-66), Miles McConnell (55, born 7-22-66), Dean Godek (55, born 6-16-66), Kevin VandenBerg (55, born 6-8-66), Brian Westveer (55, born 6-2-66), Kevin Hubbs (55, born 5-23-66)
Average Age of Field: 60.23
U.S. States Represented: There are 39 states represented in the 2021 U.S. Senior Amateur: California (20), Florida (14), Texas (11), Georgia (10), North Carolina (8), Illinois (6), Iowa (6), Massachusetts (6), New York (5), Ohio (5), Virginia (5), Colorado (4), Kentucky (4), Michigan (4), Pennsylvania (4), Alabama (3), Arizona (3), Minnesota (3), New Jersey (3), South Carolina (3), Utah (3), Indiana (2), Kansas (2), Maryland (2), Oregon (2), Tennessee (2), Alaska (1), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (1), Louisiana (1), Mississippi (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (1), New Mexico (1), Oklahoma (1), South Dakota (1), Washington (1) and Wisconsin (1). Another U.S. player is stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany (1).
International: There are three countries represented in the 2021 U.S. Senior Amateur: United States (154), Canada (1) and Italy (1).
USGA Champions (13): Stewart “Buddy” Alexander (1986 U.S. Amateur), Kenneth Bakst (1997 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Doug Hanzel (2013 U.S. Senior Amateur), Tim Hogarth (1996 U.S. Amateur Public Links), Tim Jackson (1994, 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Sean Knapp (2017 U.S. Senior Amateur), Chip Lutz (2015 U.S. Senior Amateur), Michael McCoy (2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Fred Ridley (1975 U.S. Amateur), Bob Royak (2019 U.S. Senior Amateur), Dave Ryan (2016 U.S. Senior Amateur), Paul Simson (2010, 2012 U.S. Senior Amateur) and Jeff Wilson (2018 U.S. Senior Amateur)
USGA Runners-Up (7): Sherrill Britt (2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball), Tim Hogarth (2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Sean Knapp (2018 U.S. Senior Amateur), Roger Newsom (2019 U.S. Senior Amateur), Bryan Norton (2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur, 2014 U.S. Senior Amateur), Paul Simson (2017 U.S. Senior Amateur), Matthew Sughrue (2016 U.S. Senior Amateur)
Players in Field with Most U.S. Senior Amateur Appearances (2021 included): Paul Simson (14), Chip Lutz (11), Stewart “Buddy” Alexander (10), Rick Woulfe (10), Doug Hanzel (9) and Dave Ryan (9)
Played in 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur (39): Stewart “Buddy” Alexander, Gianluca Bolla, Rick Cloninger, Kenneth Coutant, Craig Davis, Keith Decker, Gene Elliott, Chris Fieger, Kory Frost, Jerry Gunthorpe, Randy Haag, Jack Hall, Doug Hanzel, Titus Harris, Steve Harwell, Paul Jett, Ronald Kilby, Sean Knapp, Chip Lutz, Iain Macdonald, Michael McCoy, William Mitchell, Mark Morgan, Roger Newsom, Bryan Norton, Joe Palmer, Edward Parnell, Bob Royak, Dave Ryan, Greg Sanders, Paul Simson, Keith Smith, Craig Steinberg, Rusty Strawn, Matthew Sughrue, Walter Todd, Frank Vana, Terry Werner, Jeff Wilson
Played in 2021 U.S. Senior Open (6): Keith Decker, Michael McCoy, William Mitchell, Roger Newsom, Bob Royak, Jeff Wilson
Played in 2021 U.S. Amateur (3): Sean Knapp, William Mitchell, Bob Royak
Played in 2019 U.S. Mid-Amateur (7): Dave Bunker, Gene Elliott, Steve Harwell, Tim Hogarth, Michael McCoy, Bob Royak, Jeff Wilson
Walker Cup USA Team Members (4): Stewart “Buddy” Alexander (1987), Tim Jackson (1995, 1999), Michael McCoy (2015) and Fred Ridley (1977)
Walker Cup USA Captains (1): Fred Ridley (1987, 1989)
Players to Watch
Stewart “Buddy” Alexander, 68, of Auburn, Ala., won the 1986 U.S. Amateur Championship and has competed in 42 USGA championships. A college golf coach for more than three decades after earning All-America honors as a player at Georgia Southern University, Alexander, who advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur, guided the University of Florida to the 1993 and 2001 NCAA Championships. He has played in two U.S. Opens (1987, 1994). His son, Tyson, qualified for the 2017 U.S. Open, and his father, Skip, competed in six, making the Alexanders one of just three families to have had three generations compete in the championship.
Kenneth Bakst, 63, of Baiting Hollow, N.Y., shared medalist honors with a 68 at Haworth (N.J.) Country Club on Aug. 2. He won the 1997 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Dallas Athletic Club and has competed in 26 USGA championships. Bakst, who earned an invitation to the 1998 Masters, has played in two U.S. Senior Amateurs (2014, 2015). Bakst is a member of the Metropolitan Golf Association Executive Committee and is a developer and managing member of Friar’s Head Golf Club, a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw course located in Riverhead, N.Y.
Dave Bunker, 56, of Canada, will compete in his first U.S. Senior Amateur. He has played in five USGA championships, including three U.S. Mid-Amateurs and two U.S. Senior Opens (2015, 2016). He advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2009 Mid-Amateur. Bunker, who is a retired middle school teacher and boys’ and girls’ basketball coach in Toronto, is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and has twice played in the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open in 2010 and 2011. He won this year’s Florida State Golf Association Senior Amateur.
Rick Cloninger, 64, of Rock Hill, S.C., reached the semifinals of the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2014 and 2019. He has played in 17 USGA championships, including two U.S. Amateurs, two U.S. Senior Opens and five U.S. Senior Amateurs. Cloninger, who was born in Charlotte and was an NAIA All-America quarterback at Wofford College, tied for 40th in the 2008 U.S. Senior Open. He has won two Carolinas Golf Association Senior Amateur titles (2012, 2013). Cloninger, who works in the construction industry, has served on the board of directors for the South Carolina Golf Association.
Craig Davis, 59, of Chula Vista, Calif., advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2018 and reached match play in 2019 at Old Chatham Golf Club. He won the 2019 R&A Senior Amateur Championship, when he made a 5-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole at North Berwick Golf Club in Scotland. Davis, who is a software engineer for an aerospace company, has played in six USGA championships, including the 2012 U.S. Senior Open. Davis, who was chosen 2018 Southern California Golf Association Senior Player of the Year, played from 1980-83 at the University of Arizona, where one of his teammates was John Ashworth, who founded the Ashworth golf apparel company.
Jim Doing, 61, of Verona, Wis., is a professor of voice at the University of Wisconsin. He has sung more 75 operatic roles in an international career where he has performed in several countries, including England, France, Germany, Italy and Qatar. His brother, John, is the percussionist in the hit show Hamilton in San Francisco that will soon tour in the Western United States. Jim is competing in his second USGA championship, having played in the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur. In 2019, he was chosen Wisconsin State Golf Association Senior Amateur Player of the Year.
Gene Elliott, 59, of West Des Moines, Iowa, won this year’s R&A Senior Amateur Championship, after falling in a three-hole playoff the last time it was contested two years ago. He has competed in 35 USGA championships and has reached match play in all three of the U.S. Senior Amateurs he has played, including the Round of 16 in 2018. Elliott has played in eight U.S. Amateurs and 15 U.S. Mid-Amateurs. He owns a sanitation and street equipment company and recovered from open-heart surgery 21 years ago. He was inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.
Mark Gardiner, 58, of Ramstein Air Base in Germany, is a retired Air Force chief master sergeant. He made the Air Force’s golf team 13 times, competed on the U.S. Armed Forces team on 11 occasions, playing in both national and international competitions, and is a four-time winner of the Air Force Golf Championship. Gardiner estimates he has played in a dozen different countries, including a match against a Ugandan general who was the third man in charge of his nation’s army. His wife, Michelle, and son, Jaime, continue to serve in the U.S. Air Force. Gardiner, who competed in the 2014 U.S. Senior Open, has also qualified for a Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) event and has rolled five 300 games.
Walter Gieselman, 59, of Naples, Fla., has competed in eight USGA championships, including the 2012 U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf and Country Club, in Lake Orion, Mich. Gieselman, who is a native Michigander and works in sales for a steel company, is a three-time club champion at nearby Oakland Hills Country Club, the site of six U.S. Opens. Gieselman, who has played in three U.S. Amateurs and three U.S. Mid-Amateurs, was the 1993 Michigan PGA Player of the Year before being reinstated as an amateur four years later. Gieselman’s son, Michael, is a pro rugby player with the Utah Warriors, and another son, Danny, was a right-handed pitcher on the Michigan State baseball team.
Randy Haag, 62, of Orinda, Calif., has competed in 33 USGA championships. He has played in five U.S. Senior Amateurs and reached match play four times. He advanced to the quarterfinals in five U.S. Mid-Amateurs and competed in three U.S. Senior Opens. Haag, who employs a side-saddle putting style, was twice the low amateur in The Senior Open, in 2010 at Carnoustie and 2011 at Walton Heath. He sang in the San Francisco Opera Company as a youth.
Doug Hanzel, 64, of Savannah, Ga., won the 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur championship. He was a semifinalist in 2012 and twice a quarterfinalist (2016, 2018). A graduate of Kent State University, where he played on the golf team and now has a golf scholarship in his name, Hanzel is a retired pulmonologist. He has qualified for the U.S. Amateur in five different decades and has competed in 37 USGA championships. He was the low amateur in the 2012 and 2013 U.S. Senior Opens. In 2013, he became the only player to qualify for match play in the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur and U.S. Senior Amateur. Hanzel is a Type 1 diabetic and plays golf with an insulin pump.
Steve Harwell, 58, of Mooresville, N.C., advanced to the 2019 quarterfinals in his first U.S. Senior Amateur. He has played in 16 USGA championships and twice advanced to the Round of 16 in the U.S. Mid-Amateur (1993, 2010). Harwell, who works in a life insurance company’s finance division and was an NAIA All-America selection at Guilford College, has played in three U.S. Amateurs, including in 2020 at Bandon Dunes. In 2019, he captured the North Carolina Senior Amateur, the National Senior Amateur Hall of Fame, Carolinas Golf Association Four-Ball and George L. Coleman Invitational.
Tim Jackson, 62, of Williston, Tenn., has played in five U.S. Senior Amateurs and advanced to the semifinals in 2015 and 2016. Jackson, who has competed in 55 USGA championships, won the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 1994 and 2001. He represented the USA in the Walker Cup Match in 1995 and 1999 and was the low amateur in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 U.S. Senior Opens. He is a nine-time Tennessee player of the year and has won four state amateurs. Jackson, who competed in the 1995 and 2002 Masters, has served as president of the Tennessee Golf Association. He has been inducted into five sports or golf halls of fame, including the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Paul Jett, 57, of Southern Pines, N.C., was the superintendent at Pinehurst No. 2 for 15 years and managed the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Opens and 2008 U.S. Amateur. Jett, who is currently a territory sales manager for a turf and ornamental company, advanced to the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur quarterfinals, his first USGA championship. He was the youngest player in the field. Jett was also the superintendent at Duke University Golf Course and assistant at Pinehurst Nos. 1 and 4. He earned his B.S. in turfgrass management from Clemson University.
Sean Knapp, 59, of Oakmont, Pa., won the 2017 U.S. Senior Amateur and was the runner-up to Jeff Wilson in 2018 at Eugene Country Club. Knapp, who caddied at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, has competed in 52 USGA championships, including 17 U.S. Amateurs. He has played in 17 U.S. Mid-Amateurs and advanced to the semifinals in 2008 and 2010. Knapp lost to eventual champion Tiger Woods in the Round of 16 of the 1995 U.S. Amateur and tied for 60th in the 2012 U.S. Senior Open. Knapp, who is a 14-time Western Pennsylvania Golf Association Player of the Year, is a member of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania athletic hall of fame.
Chip Lutz, 66, of Jupiter, Fla., won the 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur and has reached match play in all 10 Senior Amateurs played. Lutz, who has a 25-9 match-play record in the championship, has also advanced to the semifinals on four occasions (2010, 2011, 2013, 2018). He has won the R&A Senior Amateur Championship three times and the Canadian Senior Amateur twice. He and Paul Simson are the lone players who have claimed all three championships. An insurance attorney, Lutz, who grew up in Reading, Pa., played golf at the University of Florida and is a seven-time Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Player of the Year. He was the low amateur in the 2016 U.S. Senior Open.
Miles McConnell, 55, of Tampa, Fla., is the second-youngest player in the 2021 U.S. Senior Amateur field. He is one of 35 exempt players as a top 25 age-eligible points leaders in the World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR®. McConnell, who is in the restaurant and real estate business, has played in six USGA championships, including four U.S. Amateurs. He reached the 1987 Amateur quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion Billy Mayfair in 20 holes. In 2018, he won the Florida State Golf Association Mid-Senior and reached the Round of 32 in the U.S. Mid-Amateur. McConnell, who was born in Toronto, was the runner-up in this year’s Florida Senior Open.
Michael McCoy, 58, of Des Moines, Iowa, has played in two U.S. Senior Amateurs, advancing to the semifinals in 2018 and the Round of 16 in 2019. He has competed in 63 USGA championships, including 20 U.S. Amateurs and eight U.S. Senior Opens. McCoy was the low amateur in the 2014 and 2015 U.S. Senior Opens and in 2013 was the second-oldest winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur when he defeated Bill Williamson in the final at the Country Club of Birmingham (Ala.). A member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team, McCoy works in the insurance business and has been inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame.
William Mitchell, 57, of Atlanta, Ga., was the low amateur in this year’s U.S. Senior Open, when he tied for 46th at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club. He is a performance health coach who has trained PGA Tour players Stewart Cink, Roberto Castro and Casey Wittenberg and LPGA Tour players Mariah Stackhouse and Dori Carter. Mitchell, who has also consulted college and high school teams, reached the Round of 16 in the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur. Mitchell, whose father, Lawson, was a longtime club professional, played in the 1983 U.S. Amateur and his caddie was Chris O’Donnell, now a film and TV actor.
Roger Newsom, 57, of Virginia Beach, Va., is a board-certified eye surgeon and ophthalmologist specializing in laser and refractive cataract surgery. Newsom was the runner-up to Bob Royak in the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur at Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C. He has competed in eight USGA championships, including three U.S. Senior Opens (2014, 2019, 2021). Newsom has won the State Open of Virginia twice (2008, 2011) and the 2014 Virginia State Golf Association Senior Open. His brother, Tim, is the director of golf at Riverfront Golf Club, in Suffolk, Va.
Bryan Norton, 62, of Overland Park, Kan., has been the runner-up in two USGA championships. He lost to Nathan Smith in the 2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur (by concession due to injury) and fell to Patrick Tallent, 2 and 1, in the 2014 U.S. Senior Amateur. Norton has advanced to at least the Round of 32 in all five Senior Amateurs in which he has played. He has competed in 26 USGA championships, including four U.S. Opens and three U.S. Senior Opens. Norton, who works for an insurance brokerage firm and has won three Kansas Amateurs, tied for 31st in The Open Championship at St. Andrews in 1990.
Tony Padilla, 59, of Sacramento, Calif., has been a a college basketball official for nearly two decades and has worked primarily in the Pac-12 Conference. He has officiated two NCAA Final Fours and worked last year’s regional semifinal between Michigan and Florida State. Padilla, who is competing in his first USGA championship, got his start as an official doing intramural games as a student at Gonzaga University where he played baseball. Padilla, who has also worked as a bail bondsman, won the 2017 Northern California Golf Association Senior Amateur Stroke Play Championship and the 2018 NCGA Senior Amateur Match Play Championship.
Fred Ridley, 69, of Tampa, Fla., is a past president of the USGA (2004-05) and current Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament. He captured the 1975 U.S. Amateur title and remains the last U.S. Amateur champion never to have turned professional. He won both singles matches as member of the winning 1977 USA Walker Cup Team and captained the USA Walker Cup Team in 1987 and 1989. A partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm, Ridley has played in 17 USGA championships, including the 2011 U.S. Senior Amateur. In 1976, he competed in the U.S. Open and was a member of the U.S. team in the World Amateur Team Championship. He played at the University of Florida and was mentored by renowned instructor Jack Grout. Ridley became Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club in 2017. During his first Masters Tournament as Chairman in 2018, he announced the creation of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Bob Royak, 59, of Alpharetta, Ga., won the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur by defeating Roger Newsom, 1 up, in the final at Old Chatham Golf Club, in Durham, N.C. He has competed in 20 USGA championships, including five U.S. Amateurs and three U.S. Senior Opens (2012, 2019, 2021). He was the oldest player in this year’s U.S. Amateur at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. His older brother, Jack, served as his caddie when he won the U.S. Senior Amateur and his younger brother, Paul, played in the same championship. Royak, who is vice president for an executive search firm, was the 2017 Georgia State Golf Association Senior Player of the Year. He and his wife assist in finding families for Russian orphans.
Dave Ryan, 67, of Taylorville, Ill., won the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. He has played in eight U.S. Senior Amateurs and advanced to the semifinals in 2017. On his way to the 2016 title, he recorded the first double eagle in championship history when he made a hole-in-one on a par 4 in his Round-of-16 match against Paul Simson. Ryan, who grew up on a nine-hole course and is a six-time Illinois State Senior Player of the Year, has competed in 28 USGA championships. He has played in four U.S. Senior Opens and made the 36-hole cut in 2015 at Del Paso Country Club.
Tim Rypien, 57, of Spokane, Wash., shot 71 to claim one of two spots in the Cle Elum, Wash., qualifier. Rypien, who has played in three U.S. Mid-Amateurs, comes from an athletic family. His brother, Mark, led Washington to two Super Bowls wins as part of a 12-year NFL career as a quarterback. His brother, Dave, played baseball for Team Canada in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. His son, Brett, was a quarterback for Boise State University and is currently with the Denver Broncos. Tim, who started playing golf at age 23, was drafted by the MLB’s Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays and advanced as high as the Class AA level. He is currently a teacher in the Spokane Public Schools District.
Art Sellinger, 56, of Irving, Texas, is a two-time World Long Drive champion (1986, 1991). He created the World Long Drive Championship and then later served as the lead analyst for Golf Channel’s coverage of the event for four years. He has performed more than 2,100 golf entertainment shows in 30 different countries. Sellinger, who played as a collegian at Arizona Western and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is competing in his first USGA championship since the 1982 U.S. Junior Amateur. He competed as a professional since 1986 before regaining his amateur status in July 2020. His daughter, Hannah, played college basketball at Furman University.
Paul Simson, 70, of Raleigh, N.C., is the second-oldest player in the 2021 U.S. Senior Amateur field. He has competed in 64 USGA championships, including 15 U.S. Amateurs and eight U.S. Senior Opens. Simson won the 2010 and 2012 U.S. Senior Amateurs and is one of 14 players to win the title on multiple occasions. He is third all-time with 34 match-play victories and has played in 13 Senior Amateurs. He was the runner-up to Sean Knapp in the 2017 Senior Amateur and was the low amateur in the 2001 U.S. Senior Open. He and Chip Lutz are the lone players to have won the U.S. Senior Amateur, the R&A Senior Amateur and the Canadian Senior Amateur championships.
Paul Simson, of Raleigh, N.C., is the only two-time U.S. Senior Amateur champion in this year’s field.
Craig Steinberg, 63, of Agoura Hills, Calif., has played in two U.S. Senior Amateurs, advancing to the Round of 16 in 2019 and the Round of 32 in 2017. Steinberg has competed in 28 USGA championships, including two U.S. Senior Opens (2008, 2014). He reached the U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinals twice (1988, 1999). Steinberg has degrees in optometry and law and has combined the two disciplines in his career. In addition to owning his own optometry practice, Steinberg has served as general counsel for the American Optometric Society and American Board of Clinical Optometry.
Matt Sughrue, 61, of Arlington, Va., was the runner-up to Dave Ryan in 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur and a quarterfinalist the following year. He also advanced to match play in 2018 and 2019. Sughrue, who has competed in 18 USGA championships, was also the runner-up in the 2015 R&A Senior Amateur Championship. An insurance professional for more than 25 years, Sughrue changed course to become a psychotherapist. He earned a master’s degree in human development and marriage & family therapy from Virginia Tech in 2012 and wrote his thesis on chronic adult male homelessness. Sughrue is also a performance coach for athletes, including golfers, baseball players and swimmers.
Brian Westveer, 55, of Charlotte, N.C., was a member of a NASCAR pit crew in the 1990s and worked over the wall as the front tire carrier during pit stops. Westveer, who was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., and graduated from Hope College, in Holland, Mich., has competed in three U.S. Mid-Amateurs (2003, 2007, 2011). He won the 2011 North Carolina Mid-Amateur by one stroke over two-time USGA champion Scott Harvey and Uly Grisette. Westveer is a founding partner of a company that provides specialized services in the workers’ compensation industry.
Jeff Wilson, 58, of Fairfield, Calif., is the general sales manager at an automobile dealership. He abandoned a professional golfer’s life, bouncing around mini tours, for a more stable career path. Wilson, who was reinstated as an amateur in 1997, won the 2018 U.S. Senior Amateur, a 2-and-1 victory over defending champion Sean Knapp. He tied for 31st in the 2018 U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor and became the second player to earn low-amateur honors in both the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open, joining Marvin “Vinny” Giles III. Wilson, who was low amateur in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, has competed in 38 USGA championships, including four U.S. Opens.
Rick Woulfe, 71, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is a past Florida State Golf Association president (2000-01) and member of the FSGA Hall of Fame. Woulfe, a lawyer who was an All-America golfer at Michigan State University, has played in 26 USGA championships, including nine U.S. Senior Amateurs. He was chosen FSGA player of the year three times and has received the FSGA senior player of the year award on nine occasions. One of his notable victories came in the 1992 Dixie Amateur when he defeated Tiger Woods, 4 and 3, in the semifinals on his way to winning the championship. He the oldest player in this year’s U.S. Senior Amateur.