Jackson, 50, playing like kid at U.S. Am

Tim Jackson addresses the media after shooting 68 Monday at the U.S. Amateur.

Tim Jackson addresses the media after shooting 68 Monday at the U.S. Amateur.

TULSA, Okla. – Three weeks ago, Tim Jackson showed his golf game could match up against the best players in the world in his age group. Jackson, 50, of Germantown, Tenn., became the sentimental favorite during the U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Indiana.

The life-long amateur led after two rounds and went on to tie for 11th behind winner Fred Funk and runner-up Joey Sindelar.

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Jackson’s skill was on display again Monday, only this time it was against the world’s top amateurs, many of whom are half his age. In fact, the average age of the 312 players in the starting field (22) is a year younger than his oldest son, Ben.

Handling the fast and tricky greens, Jackson shot 2-under 68 at Southern Hills Country Club to lead the opening round of stroke play qualifying at the 109th U.S. Amateur Championship.

“It was a very good day, especially on the greens,” said Jackson, who a week after the U.S. Senior Open finished second at the Tennessee State Amateur, an event he has won four times. “I started putting cross-handed back in April and the last six weeks I’ve just been putting like I used to. That’s been the big difference.

The field will play 18 holes at Southern Hills and Cedar Ridge Country Club, both par 70 courses, before a cut to the low 64 scores for match play, which begins Wednesday. Second and third round matches are scheduled for Thursday with the quarterfinals on Friday and semifinals Saturday. The scheduled 36-hole championship match is set for Sunday.

Starting on the 10th tee, Jackson, a U.S. Walker Cup team member in 1995 and 1999, made his lone bogey at No. 13. He followed with a birdie at 16 and on Nos. 1 and 7.

“I took some time off after the Senior Open, just relaxing and watching my youngest son (Austin, 15) play high school golf,” said Jackson, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and five-time winner of the Tennessee Mid-Amateur. “I was well rested coming in. I did a lot of research on this golf course. Obviously you have to hit it straight and be a good putter. That’s what I did today.”

Recent Georgia Tech grad Cameron Tringale, who celebrated his 22nd birthday Monday, was impressed.

“Tim is awesome and has really played well this summer,” said Tringale, who shot 69 at Cedar Ridge. “He played so well at the Senior Open, so I’m not surprised at all.”

Joining Tringale in a share of second place were Matthew Broome, John Peterson and Will Strickler.

“I played solid pretty much all day,” said Peterson, who plays at LSU. “I had it to 3 under through 15 then three-putted 16 and hit the cart path on 18 and made another bogey. Not a good finish, but overall, I’m happy with the day and looking forward to playing Southern Hills.”

Said Strickler: “I like where I’m at. One under after one round is good and I liked (Southern Hills) when I played it yesterday for the practice round for the first time. I just want to go out there and play well.”

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