Randy Lewis claims Stroke-Play Medalist honors at US Senior Amateur

Randal Lewis, 58, of Alma, Mich., shot a 3-under-par 68 on Sunday for a 36-hole total of 4-under 138 to earn medalist honors in the 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, being conducted at the par-71, 6,864-yard Hidden Creek Golf Club.

Lewis, the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, started his round with a bogey on No. 10, but quickly rebounded with a birdie on the par-3 11th hole that barely lipped out for a hole-in-one.

“That was a good way to get things back on track,” said Lewis, who also counted birdies on Nos. 5, 9, 14, and 17 on the way to the low round of the day. “The par 3s on the back nine were huge for me because I hit a couple great shots and had really short putts for birdie, so that helped my rhythm a lot.”

Playing in his fourth U.S. Senior Amateur, Lewis’ best finish was in 2014 when he made it to the semifinals before losing, 2 and 1, to Bryan Norton.

“The key for me is that I’m never results-focused; I want to play as well as I can play and not make mistakes,” said Lewis, a financial advisor whose wife, Melanie, is caddieing for him this week. “If I win, great, if I lose, no big deal because you can only control yourself. If I can play my game and play solid, no matter what happens, I’ll be happy. I’ve really enjoyed myself so far.”

In 2011, Lewis became the oldest U.S. Mid-Amateur champion in history at age 54 by defeating his 31-year-old opponent, Kenny Cook, 3 and 2. He is a two-time Michigan State Amateur champion who was co-medalist in both victories.

The cut came at 9-over 151, with a 12-for-1 playoff to determine the final match-play berth. The playoff will start at 7:10 a.m. EDT on hole No. 10 on Monday.

Doug Lacrosse, 63, of Tampa, Fla., carded a 1-under 70 for the second day in a row to finish two strokes behind Lewis. On his first hole of the day, Lacrosse eagled the par-4, 440-yard 10th hole with a 22-degree rescue club from 210 yards. No. 10 saw just five birdies, the lowest of any hole on Sunday, and 62 bogeys among the 156-player field.

“That was a pretty sweet start, but of course I gave it right back on the next hole [with a bogey on the par-3 11th], so I didn’t get to feel too good for too long,” said Lacrosse who also counted two birdies and three bogeys in his round. “This game works like that.”

Saturday’s first-round leader, Tim Jackson, 56, of Germantown, Tenn., posted a 2-over 73 on Sunday to finish three strokes behind Lewis along with Don DuBois, 56, of Newport Beach, Calif.

Jackson, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion (1994 and 2001), started his second round on the inward nine and stayed at even par until carding bogeys on Nos. 2 and 5.

“I don’t think I played that much differently than I did yesterday, and I certainly putted just as well,” said Jackson, who played on USA Walker Cup Teams in 1995 and 1999. “I think the hole locations were in more difficult spots, which created some tougher putts. I tried to play aggressive and went after some holes, just didn’t convert any birdies.”

Defending U.S. Senior Amateur champion Patrick Tallent, 62, of Vienna, Va., returned a 2-over-par 73 for the second day in a row to easily make match play. Tallent also won the 2015 Seniors Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A, last month at Royal County Down.

“If you can read these greens, you have a good chance,” said Tallent on what it will take to advance through match play. “These greens are very difficult. On some of the long putts, the slope goes both ways, and you really have to concentrate. This championship will be determined by whoever putts the best all week.”

Ten of the 15 USGA individual champions in the field qualified for match play, including 1981 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and three-time USA Walker Cup Team competitor Jim Holtgrieve, who rebounded from an 8-over 79 Saturday with an even-par 71 Sunday.

“I went to an interlocking grip today on the range and started hitting my irons well,” Holtgrieve said of his eight-stroke improvement. “Yesterday, I used a combination of overlap, interlock and 10-finger grips. And I changed my ball position today.” 

Notables who failed to qualify for match play include: 1986 U.S. Amateur champion Stewart Alexander, 62, of Gainesville, Fla.; 1997 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Kenneth Bakst, 57, of New York, N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Senior Amateur quarterfinalist Frank Dial, 65, of Auburn, Ala.; 1972 U.S. Amateur and 2009 U.S. Senior Amateur champion Vinny Giles, 72, of Richmond, Va.; 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur runner-up Pat O’Donnell, 61, of Happy Valley, Ore.; 1984 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Michael Podolak, 61, of Oxbow, N.D.; and 2005 U.S. Senior Amateur champion Mike Rice, 75, of Houston, Texas.

The U.S. Senior Amateur is open to amateurs who have reached their 55th birthday by Sept. 26, 2015 and have a Handicap Index® not exceeding 7.4. It consists of 36 holes of stroke play, after which the field is reduced to the low 64 scorers for match play. Six match-play rounds will determine the champion, with the 18-hole final set for Thursday at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Vanessa Zink is an assistant manager of Championship Communications for the USGA. Email her at [email protected].