- Golfer Benefits
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Massachusetts – Eight players earned cross-country trips on Thursday as qualifying for the U.S. Senior Amateur and U.S. Senior Women’s Open took place at Allendale Country Club.
After a handful of years, Hingham’s Bud Schultz (Black Rock CC), North Easton’s Steve Tasho (Thorny Lea GC) and Stow’s John McNeill (Amateur Golf Tour NE) are all heading back to the U.S. Senior Amateur, taking place August 26-31 at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, California. Schultz and Tasho played four years ago at Old Chatham Golf Club (NC), while McNeill’s return engagement comes five years after playing in the 2018 championship at Eugene Country Club (OR). Topsfield’s Ken Whalley (Ferncroft Country Club) has plenty of USGA experience, but the former Duke golfer will play in the U.S. Senior Amateur for the first time.
For Massachusetts amateurs Pam Kuong (Charles River Country Club) and Tara Joy-Connelly (The Bay Club/The Kittansett Club), Thursday marked the first time qualifying to the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, set for August 24-27 at Waverly Country Club in Portland, Oregon. Meanwhile, Canada’s Judith Kyrinis & New Hampshire pro Laura Shanahan Rowe have qualified for all five. Still, all are equally excited for the opportunity to play in championship won by some of the game’s best, including Laura Davies, Helen Alfredsson, and Annika Sörenstam.
U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR QUALIFYING
Bud Shultz, a former tennis professional, only started playing golf at age 50, but in that baker’s dozen worth of years since has already earned multiple appearances in the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.
“As you get older, it’s harder to be competent in things,” said Schultz, who split medalist honors with Whalley at even-par 72. “I still feel like I’m getting better. This is confirmation of the effort and the enjoyment that I’ve gotten from it.”
Schultz was very steady all day with a card of two birdies and bogeys apiece. His first birdie came on the par-3 5th, as his pin high putt from 3-4 inches left to right and into the cup. He also made a difficult par save on the 17th to hold his position.
“I wasn’t getting the ball to the hole all day long, but that was one that had good speed,” said Schultz, who made a birdie putt of similar length on the par-5 14th. “I was impressed how firm the greens were.”
Like Schultz, Tasho played in the U.S. Senior Amateur four years ago in North Carolina. Tasho, though, had last year on his mind when he came up short in a playoff during qualifying for the U.S. Senior Amateur, with a spot at The Kittansett Club on the line.
Despite starting with two bogeys, Tasho righted the ship with birdies on both par-5s on the front nine (6 and 9) and was even-par through to the 18th. Despite hitting his second shot over the green, Tasho was able to knock down a 3-footer for bogey to secure a spot at 1-over.
“That’s been sitting for a year,” Tasho said of last year’s qualifier. “It was kind of retribution to get through this year.”
Tasho estimates this will be his 15th USGA Championship. Ironically his first was when he made the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Whalley had an even less ideal start: two bogeys on the opening holes. He was 3-over with seven holes to play when the former Blue Devil turned on the jets with birdies on par-3s 12 and 14 and another on the 15th.
“I knew I had to get back to even and just played solid coming in,” Whalley said. “It didn’t look good mid-round, but I hung in there.”
Whalley, a 3-time North Shore Amateur winner, also appeared in the 2005 U.S. Amateur at Merion and three U.S. Mid-Amateur championships. He’s had all that success in spite of a serious heart condition he’s had since 2006. He now has defibrillator implanted in his chest to measure his heart rhythm.
“The only way I can get danger is to get heart rate way up,” Whalley said. “It’s not something I think about often playing golf. It was a bigger issue 15 years ago.”
Par saves were crucial for John McNeill, the 2021 New England Senior Amateur champion, who is back on the national stage for the first time in five years. His shot of the day came on the par-5 15th when he sliced his drive right, had to hit wedge back into the fairway and hit his third to 10 feet followed by a made birdie putt. That got him to 2-under for the round. Though he 3-putted the final hole (par-5 9th) he had plenty of cushion to hold on at 1-over.
McNeill’s other birdie came on the 17th when he also went right off the tee into the rough, but still got his approach to 10 feet and made the putt.
“As you get older you think, was that it in 2018?” McNeill said. “But I get one more shot at it.”
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U.S. SENIOR WOMEN’S OPEN QUALIFYING
Judith Kyrinis, of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, will always cherish an opportunity to return to Waverly Country Club. In 2017, Kyrinis made history by winning the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Waverly in the first-ever all-Canadian final match with Terrill Samuel. After shooting 1-under 72 and earning medalist honors Thursday, she’ll return to prestigious Oregon club, where her likeness is on display.
“You only can think of really good thoughts,” Kyrinis said contemplating her return. “The people are so nice, and the course suits my eye. I can hit nice fades and move the ball around. The clubhouse is outstanding, I have a picture up there. It feels like home.”
Coming off her win in the Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur last week, Kyrinis played as the frontrunner most of the day. She made three birdies with a near ace on the par-3 12th and kept her ball in regulation most of the day.
“I am just confident out there,” Kyrinis said. “It was very challenging so I didn’t think anybody was going to go crazy low. It was a challenge to pick clubs, but I brought a lot of last week until to today.”
Tara Joy-Connelly, a 2021 inductee into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame, has had many friends play in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open in years past. Now that’s she’s reached 50, she will now be able to join them.
“It had been on my radar,” said Joy-Connelly who shot 4-over and advanced in a 3-for-2 playoff. “I’m super excited to play with some of the best in the game and brought it to where it is.”
Joy-Connelly managed just one birdie the whole day (par-3 12th) but was driving the ball well, leaving herself in good position off the tee. The same applied in the playoff with Laura Shanahan Rowe and Lisa McGill, but her approach shot checked up short, as she feared flying the green. Her chip did get past the hole, but she hit the short comebacker to make par and match Shanahan Rowe, who was on it two shots. McGill nearly holed out for birdie from the greenside bunker, but was unable to get up-and-down.
“I was a little bit in between numbers and everything was bouncing on today, so I went with the lower club, and it just hit and stopped,” Joy-Connelly said of her second shot on the playoff. “If Lisa makes that bunker shot, it would’ve been game on.”
Last week, Joy-Connelly finished T4 in the Florida Senior Women’s Open, which had several U.S. Senior Open players in the field. Among them was the champion Tammie Green.
“It was nice to say to myself, ‘OK I can do this,’ and then just come out here and do the best you can do and let it fall where it may.
Pam Kuong as come painstakingly close to qualifying in years past. After many years of playing the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, including last year’s historic championship in Alaska, she got through by shooting even-par 73.
Kuong, the three-time defending Massachusetts Women’s Senior Amateur champion, made birdie on the second hold but gave back to strokes with bogeys on holes 3 and 5, both par-3s. From that point she shot 1-under the rest of the way, even has wins increased the rest of the day.
Laura Shanahan Rowe, the 2021 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Champion, made birdie on both par-3s on the back nine. Though she followed with three straight bogeys, she still finished at 4-over to force a playoff. The head golf professional at Canterbury Woods Country Club (north of Concord, NH) also won the New England Women’s Amateur Championship in 2002.
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U.S. SENIOR AMATEUR QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Bud Schultz (Hingham, MA); (E) 72
Ken Whalley (Topsfield, MA); (E) 72
Steven Tasho (North Easton, MA); (+1) 73
John McNeill (Stow, MA); (+1) 73
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Kevin Shea (Hingham, MA); (+2) 74
*Brad Hartz (Boston, MA); (+3) 75
*Advanced on 1st playoff hole
U.S. SENIOR WOMEN’S OPEN QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
a-Judith Kyrinis (Canada); (-1) 72
a-Pamela Kuong (Wellesley, MA); (E) 73
*Laura Shanahan Rowe (Hampton, NH); (+4) 77
*a-Tara Joy-Connelly (Middleborough, MA); (+4) 77
ALTERNATES (In Order)
a-Lisa Mcgill (Philadelphia, PA); (+4) 77
a-Mercedese Large (West Hartford, CT); (+5) 78
a-: Denotes amateur player
*Advanced on 1st playoff hole
The 68th playing of the U.S. Senior Amateur will take place August 26-31 at Martis Camp Club, located just north of Lake Tahoe in California. There will be 156 players, and qualifying is open to any golfer who is 55 years of age as of August 26 and whose Handicap Index® does not exceed 7.4. A total of 2,752 with last year’s championship (at The Kittansett Club) still holding the mark at 2,865. Martis Camp hosted its first USGA Championship 10 years ago when Scottie Scheffler, now the world No. 1 in men’s golf, won the U.S. Junior Amateur.
The 5th playing of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open will take place August 24-27 at Waverley Country Club in Portland, Oregon. There will be 120 competitors, and qualifying is open to any female professional or amateur who is 50 years of age on or before Aug. 24 and whose Handicap Index® does not exceed 7.4. Waverly has hosted several USGA Championships, including the 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, won by Judith Kyrinis, and the 1993 U.S. Junior Amateur, won by Tiger Woods.
Established in 1956, Allendale Country Club is an 18-hole, par-72 golf course designed by Geoffrey Cornish. The course offers a fair but challenging course for the beginner as well as the advanced golfer.
Over the past decade, Allendale Country Club has been a frequent host of qualifying events, both for Mass Golf and the USGA. Among them are U.S. Senior Amateur (2018), U.S. Four-Ball (2016), and U.S. Women’s Amateur (2015). The club also held the 2017 Mass Women’s Four-Ball for the Townshend Cup and the 1974 Women’s Stroke Play Championship for the Baker Trophy, as well as co-hosted the 2009 Mass Senior Four-Ball with The Bay Club at Mattapoisett.
In addition to the golf course itself, Allendale offers its members a host of other amenities. Included with all memberships is the use of the driving range, chipping green, practice green, and locker rooms.
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