Giles, 66, wins Senior Am

Vinny Giles III holds the trophy after winning the USGA Senior Amateur Sept. 17.

Vinny Giles III holds the trophy after winning the USGA Senior Amateur Sept. 17.

CHICAGO – Step aside, Francis Ouimet.

When Ouimet won in 1931 at Beverly Country Club, it marked an astounding 17 years between U.S. Amateur titles.

But talk about longevity: Vinny Giles III of Richmond, Va., has gone nearly four decades – 37 years, to be exact – between USGA titles.

On Thursday at Beverly, Giles holed a slick 18-foot downhill birdie putt at the final green to beat John Grace, 61, of Fort Worth, Texas, 1 up, and win the 55th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. It was 37 years since Giles won his first USGA championship, the 1972 U.S. Amateur, thereby eclipsing the 33 years between Bruce Fleisher’s victories at the 1968 Amateur and 2001 Senior Open.

“Since I turned 55 I had only one real goal in golf,” said Giles, “and that was to win the Senior Amateur, which is the ultimate championship in senior amateur golf. Frankly, I thought my time had passed. I didn’t know if I’d ever have this chance.”

Giles and Grace, teammates on the U.S. squad that won the 1975 Walker Cup at St. Andrews, Scotland, both had 1-up leads in the final. The match went to all square at the 15th, the longest par 4 on the course, when Grace came up 5 yards short on his approach, then hit a pitch-and-run 18 feet past the hole and missed the putt for par.

At the par-5 18th, both players reached the green in three, and after referee Tom O’Toole measured to determine that Grace was away by 2 inches – let’s call it 18 feet to 18 feet, 2 inches – Grace’s birdie putt stopped 6 inches short for a conceded 5. Putting straight downhill, Giles barely touched his putt, but it stayed on line and found the center of the hole.

“I knew all I had to do was get it on the right line,” said Giles. “It would have been easy to hit it too hard and get it 4 or 5 feet by the hole. When it was 2 feet away I knew it was in, but like my good friend, Bobby Wadkins, has always said, ‘Early call, the ball won’t fall,’ so I didn’t want to react too early. When the ball went in, it was a great feeling of accomplishment.”

Noted Grace, the 1974 U.S. Amateur runner-up, “I didn’t lose the match, Vinny won it, so I have no regrets. Today I wanted to play the very best golf I could and I think I did that.”

With no conceded putts in the final longer than 18 inches, Grace was even par and Giles 1 under.

• • •

Results from the semifinals at the USGA Senior Amateur, played Sept. 17 at Beverly Country Club in Chicago:

FINALS

Vinny Giles III def. John Grace, 1 up

• • •

SEMIFINALS

Vinny Giles III def. John Pallin, 1 up

John Grace def. Mark Bemowski, 3 and 2

• • •

QUARTERFINALS

Vinny Giles III def. William T. Doughtie, 2 and 1

John Pallin def. Michael Walters, 2 up

John Grace def. Greg Reynolds, 3 and 1

Mark Bemowski def. Mike Bell, 2 and 1

• • •

ROUND OF 16

Vinny Giles III def. Paul Simson, 2 and 1

William T. Doughtie def. Patrick O’Donnell, 1 up

John Pallin def. Sam Till Jr., 3 and 2

Michael Walters def. George Zahringer, 2 and 1

Greg Reynolds def. Robert Morris, 1 up

John Grace def. Bill Zylstra, 1 up

Mike Bell def. Stanford Lee, 1 up

Mark Bemowski def. Jeff Burda, 2 up

• • •

SECOND ROUND

Paul Simson def. Randy Nichols, 1 up

Vinny Giles III def. Tom Studer, 1 up

William T. Doughtie def. Bill Ploeger, 1 up

Patrick O'Donnell def. Martin West, 2 up

John Pallin def. Graham Cooke, 5 and 3

Sam Till Jr. def. Weir King, 1 up

George Zahringer def. Neil Spitalny, 1 up

Michael Walters def. Stephen Bogan, 2 and 1

Robert Morris def. Kemp Richardson, 4 and 3

Greg Reynolds def. Frank Ford III, 1 up

John Grace def. Roger Gunderson, 2 up

Bill Zylstra def. Douglas Pool, 2 up

Mike Bell def. Robert Linn, 3 and 2

Stanford Lee def. Stewart Alexander, 5 and 4

Jeff Burda def. Allan Small, 6 & 5

Mark Bemowski def. Dan Bieber, 1 up

• • •

FIRST ROUND

Paul Simson def. Alan Bouchard, 2 and 1

Randy Nichols def. Thomas McGraw, 1 up

Vinny Giles III def. Bob Harrington, 20 holes

Tom Studer def. Stu Grendahl, 5 and 4

William T. Doughtie def. Karl Simon, 6 and 5

Bill Ploeger def. J P Leigh, 4 and 3

Patrick O'Donnell def. Dan Pouliot, 4 and 2

Martin West def. Gray Tuttle, 3 and 1

John Pallin def. Bill Leonard, 5 and 4

Graham Cooke def. Daniel Houlihan, 4 and 2

Sam Till Jr. def. Paul Schlachter, 4 and 3

Weir King def. Bill Barnes, 2 up

George Zahringer def. John Benson, 4 and 3

Neil Spitalny def. Steve Whittaker, 3 and 2

Michael Walters def. Larry Clark, 3 and 2

Stephen Bogan def. Steve Johnson, 4 and 2

Kemp Richardson def. Patrick Tallent, 4 and 3

Robert Morris def. Gary Daniels, 2 and 1

Greg Reynolds def. John Darr, 3 and 1

Frank Ford III def. John Bunn, 4 and 3

John Grace def. Spike Smith, 21 holes

Roger Gunderson def. Norman Swenson, 4 and 3

Bill Zylstra def. David Williamson, 19 holes

Douglas Pool def. John Peters, 2 up

Mike Bell def. Stephen Larson, 4 and 3

Robert Linn def. Ian Harris, 1 up

Stewart Alexander def. Donald Bliss, 2 and 1

Stanford Lee def. Tom Elfers, 1 up

Jeff Burda def. Bob Varn, 6 and 5

Allan Small def. Jay Blumenfeld, 4 and 3

Dan Bieber def. Randy Reifers, 2 up

Mark Bemowski def. John Olive, 3 and 2

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