CHICAGO – Just when you think you’ve seen it all.
At this morning’s playoff for the final match-play spots at the U.S. Senior Amateur at Beverly Country Club, I counted Alan Bouchard out at the 11th hole. And the 12th. But the 63-year-old from Falmouth, Maine, lives to play in Monday’s opening round.
“I thought I was cooked about three times out there,” said Bouchard with a smile. “But you just never know.”
After 2005 champion Mike Rice was eliminated at the first hole of the 11-for-8 playoff, Bouchard his hit tee shot at the par-5 12th out of bounds, onto the freight lines that run along Beverly’s western border. He posted a double-bogey 7, which would have been reason enough to start back to the clubhouse. Then Robert McKnight of New Smynra, Fla., put his approach into a bunker and bladed it over the green, and he eventually made 7, too.
By this time it was down to two players, Bouchard and McKnight, playing for the 64th and final spot in match play.
Both players put their tee shots into bunkers at the par-3 12th, but Bouchard didn’t see McKnight play his first sand shot, from a fried-egg lie, that just got out of the bunker but then trickled back in. When McKnight eventually curled in a 7-foot putt for a halving 4 that Bouchard thought was a winning 3, he offered his congratulations, premature as they were.
“I couldn’t see his shot from where I was in the bunker,” said Bouchard. “That’s why I said, ‘Great shot.’ ”
The playoff ended at the next hole, the par-4 13th, when McKnight’s tee shot went OB and Bouchard made a by-the-books par.
“I guess the golf gods were with me,” said Bouchard. “When I hit that tee shot out of bounds I didn’t think I had much of a shot, but then he bladed that bunker shot. I know how he feels; I’ve done that before.”