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Simson Captures Second U.S. Senior Amateur Title

WEST CAL DWELL, NEW JERSEY | Memoto Senior Amateur competitors: it’s best not to overlook Paul Simson. Simson, 61, won three of four holes on the inward nine Thursday to defeat Curtis Skinner 4 and 3 and win the USGA Senior Amateur Championship at the par-71, 6,838-yard Mountain Ridge Country Club in New Jersey. Simson, who won this championship for the second time in the last three years, becomes the 14th player to have captured at least two Senior Amateur titles. In 2010, he garnered his first championship at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Orlando. As the week began, all eyes were on Chip Lutz, who was bidding to duplicate Simson’s 2010 feat of winning three national senior amateur titles in a single year. As he did last year, Lutz entered the championship holding the British and Canadian Senior Amateur titles. Simson was just off the radar screen, as Lutz had established himself as the No. 1 senior in the world. However, Lutz was upset in the first round of match play, while Simson quietly went about the business of winning matches and advancing to the final against Skinner. “It’s an indescribable feeling to win the first one, and to win the second one, I would call it more of a thrill than an honor,” said Simson, who capped a happy homecoming this week to his native northern New Jersey. “I was just so overcome the first time. But to win the second one was a real thrill.” Simson, who shot a combined 10-under par during Wednesday’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, continued his nearly flawless play in the championship match. He gained a 2-up margin at No. 11 by two-putting from 38 feet for a par, while Skinner’s second shot rolled off the green and into a collection area, leading to a bogey. After nearly driving the green at the 279-yard, par-4 12th, Simson was provided relief for an embedded ball. He took advantage by chipping to two and-a-half feet to set up a birdie. If there was a defining moment in the match, it came at the par-4 13th, where Simson was short of the right greenside bunker, but chipped to within close range to save par. Skinner’s chance to cut into the lead was thwarted when his 18-foot birdie putt ran by the left side of the hole. “I figured I kind of had the advantage there,” said Skinner, 55, who was playing in his first Senior Amateur. “He hit a phenomenal sort of flop shot. I hit a putt that I thought I made, but it was a little too hard, so that was probably the turning point.” Simson, a three-time British Senior Amateur champion, put the exclamation point on his victory when he struck a “smooth” 4-iron on the 185-yard, par-3 14th. While Skinner was faced with a difficult up-and-down after hitting his tee shot to the right of the green, Simson holed his 18-foot putt for birdie, his third of the day.
“You really have to have a change in your mindset to play competitive golf four, five and six days in a row,” said Skinner, who defeated two past Senior Amateur champions and the No. 3 seed on his way to the final. “It’s really draining. This is the first time I’ve done it. You just have to stay focused, stay loose, to stay kind of in the moment is very difficult, so it was a learning moment for me.” “We did a lot of special things this week,” said Simson, whose 30-year old son, Phillip, caddied for him. “We went and saw the family cemetery plot, saw the club (Fairmount Country Club, where he played as a youngster). We went by all the old houses where I grew up and where I met my wife (Chris). I got to see some old friends that I hadn’t seen in 30 years. Pretty cool stuff.” As champion, Simson receives a 10- year Senior Amateur exemption. Both finalists are exempt into the 2013 U.S. Senior Open at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club and next year’s U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. Simson and Skinner also earned an exemption from local qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Open. When asked about the likelihood of playing against the youngsters at Brookline next summer, Simson quipped “I might have to get up there. It’s lobster country.”


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