Tallent outduels Simson for Senior Am medal

ORLANDO, Fla. – The 36-hole qualifying round for the USGA Senior Amateur, conducted Saturday and Sunday at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, turned into the Pat and Paul Show. 

So what else is new?

Pat Tallent, of Vienna, Va., and Paul Simson, of Raleigh, N.C., who tied for medalist honors in the 2009 Senior Amateur, resumed their rivalry in 2010 at Lake Nona and were separated by just one stroke this time around.

Tallent, 57, won the medal with a 4-under 140 total. Simson, 59, finished at 141.

The low 64 qualifiers advanced to single-elimination match play, which begins Monday and continues through Thursday.

Simson, an insurance salesman, is seeking a unique triple-dip in 2010. He already has won the British Seniors Amateur and Canadian Senior Amateur.

“The guy is amazing,” Tallent acknowledged.

Maybe so, but Tallent’s robotic performance in the qualifying round was spectacular. He didn’t miss a fairway in 36 holes, and he played the first 35 holes without a bogey.

With medalist honors in his grasp, Tallent stumbled with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 final hole, yanking his second shot into the watery home of the goddess of Lake Nona.

While Simson is well-known for his golf exploits – he won the 2010 Canadian Senior Amateur by 15 shots, for example – Tallent has managed to maintain a much lower profile.

Actually Tallent’s talent goes beyond golf. Although he is a former winner of the Virginia State Amateur and the Maryland State Amateur, he was a collegiate All-American basketball player before that. In three varsity seasons at George Washington University, he averaged 20.8 points per game.

Tallent, 6-foot-3, was a shooting guard at George Washington. He was drafted by the Washington Bullets of the National Basketball Association. When a pro career didn’t materialize, he became a certified public accountant. He is now retired.

“I don’t play social golf,” Tallent said with conviction. “I love tournament golf, and that’s what I do. I’d rather be with my family than play casual golf.”

Tournament golf is what he does very well, thank you.

USGA Senior Amateur medalists, though, historically have experienced a rough road in match play. The last medalist to advance through six rounds of match play and win the overall championship was John Richardson in 1987. 

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