Hanzel, 55, keeping pace in match play

Doug Hanzel

Doug Hanzel

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – To the vast majority of players in the starting field of 312, Doug Hanzel probably would be considered a dinosaur as far as the U.S. Amateur is concerned. That was pretty much the case as well when it came to the 64-player match-play field.

Consider the average age of those advancing to match play this week at Cherry Hills Country Club was 22. At 55, Hanzel beats that average by 33 years.

In fact, Hanzel’s daughter Kate, 26, is older than 56 of those in match play, and his son Drew, 24, is equal to or older than 55 of them.

Yes, dinosaurs are extinct, except when you are dealing with the game of golf and, in this case, the U.S. Amateur and Hanzel.

Hanzel, a physician and lung specialist from Savannah, Ga., has shown he still has plenty of game to compete with the long-hitting, talented younger generation.

Playing in his 10th U.S. Amateur and 16th USGA championship, Hanzel easily qualified for match play when he shot 3-over 73 at CommonGround Golf Club, and followed with a 3-under 68 at Cherry Hills to tie for 25th at even-par 141. He is believed to be the oldest to advance to match play since the U.S. Am went to its current format of 36-hole on-site qualifying in 1979.

A 1979 graduate of Kent State, where in 2003 the Dr. Doug Hanzel Scholarship was initiated, he played in his first U.S. Amateur in 1978 when the event was strictly match play. The only other time he advanced to match play was 1996. He lost to Trip Kuehne in the first round of match play that year.

Now, the senior citizen of this year’s match-play bracket has made his best showing. Hanzel, who earned his spot in the field after finishing as low amateur at the U.S. Senior Open last month, is now into the Round of 32.

He moved on Wednesday morning when he defeated 34-year-old Andrew Biggadike, 3 and 2. Hanzel never trailed in the match.

“I played steady and made a lot of pars,” Hanzel said. “This golf course is so hard, so you know if you make a lot of pars you’re going to do well. Right now I’m confident in my game, hitting the ball well and putting well. That’s a good combination, especially on this golf course.”

Hanzel, a native of Cleveland and a former Ohio state high school champion, smiles when he talks about competing against players this week less than half his age.

“These young guys hit it so far and are so talented,” Hanzel said. ‘But the thing is, I have no pressure playing against them. It’s the kids who have the pressure. I mean, losing to a 55-year-old is pressure.”

For most of his career as a physician, Hanzel worked in his office and the hospital, putting in “an average of 70 hours a week.” About two years ago, he limited his time to office work only.

“That was a tremendous change in my lifestyle,” said Hanzel, who earlier this year won the Jones Cup Senior and the Lupton Senior. “I’m pretty much an office practice now. I have a great group of people that help cover for me so my schedule is a little freer. My kids are kind of out of the house, and I can slow down a little bit – and play a little more golf.”

Hanzel will certainly have the opportunity to play more golf on a national stage over the next year. In addition to being exempt into this year’s U.S. Amateur as the low amateur at the Senior Open (T-53 at 9-over 289), Hanzel is exempt into next month’s U.S. Mid-Amateur at Conway Farms Golf Club near Chicago and the U.S. Senior Amateur at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J. In addition, he gets another invite to the 2013 U.S. Senior Open at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club.

“I’m looking forward to those,” Hanzel said. “It should be a lot of fun.”

For Hanzel, every day is a challenge, whether on or off the golf course.

It’s been 13 years since he was diagnosed with diabetes, and he now wears an insulin pump, which he describes as “an amazing device,” at all times.

“I look at it as a bump in the road, something you just have to deal with,” he said. “My main thing is, I want younger players to know that diabetes doesn’t have to be prohibitive to playing.”

Hanzel said he certainly knows when his blood sugar is low if he’s playing golf.

“If I start hitting shots fat, I know my sugar is low,” he said, smiling, “because I rarely hit fat shots.”

That definitely has been the case this week at the U.S. Amateur. He seems to be doing everything right in all stages of his game. Still, his success has raised some minor problems back in the home office.

“I actually have patients scheduled for Thursday and Friday, so I’m going to have to rearrange my schedule a little bit,” he said.

That’s a problem anyone who was in this year’s starting field would love to have, but especially one you might call the Tyrannosaurus rex of the 112th U.S. Amateur Championship.

• • •

ROUND OF 64

Bobby Wyatt def. Taylor Hancock, 4 and 2

Matthew Stieger def. Jade Scott, 7 and 5

Justin Thomas def. Barry Dyche, 3 and 1

Max Homa def. Corey Conners, 5 and 4

Devin Miertschin def. Drew Evans, 3 and 2

Bobby Leopold def. Michael Kim, 20 holes

Oliver Gross def. Michael Miller, 19 holes

Devon Purser def. Sebastian Vazquez, 4 and 3

Adam Schenk def. Oliver Schniederjans, 2 and 1

Patrick Duncan Jr. def. Nicholas Reach, 1 up

Ricardo Gouveia def. Eric Frazzetta, 4 and 3

Michael Weaver def. Zac Blair, 2 and 1

Patrick Rodgers def. Justin Spray, 3 and 2

Thomas Pieters def. Jordan Spieth, 1 up

Albin Choi def. Mackenzie Hughes, 2 and 1

Steven Fox def. Jeff Osberg, 3 and 2

Douglas Hanzel def. Andrew Biggadike, 3 and 2

Zack Munroe def. Michael Schoolcraft, 19 holes

Todd White def. Jonathan De Los Reyes, 3 and 1

Edouard Espana def. Curtis Thompson, 1 up

Justin Shin def. Brad Valois, 1 up

Chris Williams def. Peter Williamson, 3 and 2

Adam Stephenson def. Carlos Ortiz, 1 up

Cheng-Tsung Pan def. Evan Bowser, 4 and 3

Gavin Green def. Derek Ernst, 3 and 1

Talor Gooch def. T.J. Mitchell, 5 and 3

Andrew Presley def. Bryson Dechambeau, 19 holes

Brandon Hagy def. Denny McCarthy, 19 holes

Paul Misko def. Kenny Cook, 20 holes

Patrick Newcomb def. Richard Lamb, 2 and 1

Michael Hebert def. Todd Sinnott, 6 and 4

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