For the first time in 52 years, three players will share medallist honours in the US Senior Amateur Championship.
Dean Channell, 59, of Cary, N.C., Doug Hanzel, 62, of Savannah, Ga., and Michael McCoy, 56, of Norwalk, Iowa, all posted two-under 142 during the 36-hole stroke-play portion of the competition, which concluded on Sunday at Old Chatham Golf Club. They finished one stroke ahead of two players.
It’s only the third time in championship history that there’s been three or more medallists in stroke play. Besides 1967 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., it also occurred five years earlier at Evanston Golf Club in Skokie, Ill.
McCoy, the 2013 US Mid-Amateur champion and a semi-finalist last year at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club, had a chance to break out of the logjam, but he lipped out a four-foot birdie putt on the par-4 9th hole, his last of the day. He finished with a two-under 70 after posting an even-par 72 in Round 1 on Saturday.
“I just kind of misread it,” McCoy said. “I saw Duke [Delcher’s putt] go right and I was going to play it right in the middle of the hole. It did go a little right so that was disappointing.”
The conditions were much better for the 156 competitors on Sunday, following Saturday’s rain-soaked round that saw the course absorb nearly a half-inch of precipitation.
“We had a rough day yesterday,” said Hanzel, the 2013 champion who carded a second consecutive one-under 71 on Sunday. “Surprisingly my good nine [during Saturday’s heaviest rains] was my back nine, which is the front nine [at Old Chatham]. I shot four under. And it really should have been a [six-under] 30. I had two corner lip-outs. That was as good of ball-striking nine holes as I’ve played, maybe ever. But I’m just happy to play well [in the second round] and make it to match play.”
“That was as good of ball-striking nine holes as I’ve played, maybe ever.” – Doug Hanzel
Hanzel and McCoy are no strangers to USGA competitions, having combined to play in 97. Channell, who lives eight miles from the golf course, is making his eighth USGA appearance this week. But it’s the first time he’s qualified for match play since the 2001 US Mid-Amateur at San Joaquin Country Club in Fresno, Calif., where he survived a 15-for-9 playoff for the final spots and lost to eventual champion Tim Jackson, 1 down, in the Round of 64.
Channell, the 18-hole leader, followed Saturday’s four-under 68 with a 74. He briefly got to five under for the championship with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, but he came home in three-over 39. Nevertheless, a brilliant par-save from a greenside bunker on No.18, statistically the hardest hole in stroke play, kept him at two under.
“It got windy on the back side but that’s no excuse,” said Channell, a former tennis player at Virginia Tech. “I just hit a few bad shots and missed a few putts here and there.
“I would have loved to have finished more positively. It was pretty nice to get up and down on 18 from the bunker. I hit a pretty good drive and still had 207 (yards). That wind is straight in there. I knew I was in [match play], so there wasn’t much pressure.”
Hanzel, competing in his eighth Senior Amateur, has never missed qualifying for match play and owns an impressive 19-6 record. Perhaps he’ll enjoy the same vibes he had six years ago in the Tar Heel State when he claimed victory at Wade Hampton Golf Club in Cashiers.
On Sunday, he hit all 18 greens and made two bogeys, both the result of three-putts, including the par-4 18th when he misread his five-foot comebacker.
“No matter what happens from now on at least I can leave knowing I played some good golf.” – Michael McCoy
“I hit the putt right where I wanted it,” said Hanzel, a retired pulmonologist. “I played it right edge and it didn’t move an inch.
“I’ve hit it pretty good [this week]. I am putting it better. I hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in. I left a six-footer on  just dead in short. I fell in love with the line and didn’t hit it. The golf course is very good. The greens are very good. So there’s no reason not to make putts.”
McCoy and his US Amateur Four-Ball partner, fellow Iowan Gene Elliott, were the only two competitors to register bogey-free rounds on Sunday. McCoy’s solid performance the past two days came just 12 days after he missed the cut down the road at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in what likely was his final appearance in the US Amateur Championship.
His two birdies came late in the round on Nos. 3 and 6 on putts of nine and seven feet, respectively.
“My game has not been so good and I have worked awfully hard at it,” said McCoy, who is playing in his 61st USGA championship and also shared medallist honours in the 2009 US Mid-Amateur . “It means a lot more now than it has in the past. It was good to play two good rounds of golf on a difficult golf course. It showed me that I am not finished yet.
“Most of [my preparation work] has been mental. I just haven’t been able to focus for a full round so I have been working on some things to maintain my focus. I didn’t three-putt in the two days and that’s been a bit of a problem too. That helps when you don’t throw strokes away. It felt good to pull it together. I am very pleased. No matter what happens from now on at least I can leave knowing I played some good golf.”