Forty-two of the top senior amateur players from across four age brackets and traveling from all four corners of the United States have made their way to Duke University Golf Club in Durham, North Carolina, to, well, duke it out.
Over the next three days, four age divisions will crown a match-play champion with each winner receiving 1,200 Golfweek Player of the Year points. With just a handful of events left in the Golfweek senior amateur season, the competition is sure to be cranked up as the season winds down.
NOTE: Seeding for this event was based off of the Golfweek Player of the Year rankings as of August 1st. If the player was not ranked in Golfweek’s PoY rankings, random draw or national ranking was used.
Senior Bracket (55-64)
Thirteen players began the event, giving the top three seeds (Todd Hendley, Eddie Hargett and Kevin VandenBerg) byes into the afternoon quarterfinal matches.
First to advance from the morning matches was 2020 Golfweek Senior Player of the Year and 2022 Challenge Cup captain, Craig Hurlbert. As the 8-seed, Hurlbert was set to take on 9-seed Thomas Immenschuh. Unfortunately, Immenschuh had travel issues and was unable to make it to the course in time for the 7:50 a.m. match time. With the forfeit, Hurlbert found himself a date with top-seeded Todd Hendley.
Back-to-back three-putt bogeys put Hurlbert in a quick 2-down hole to start the match.
“I started really slow,” Hurlbert told Golfweek. “But it actually kind of helped me focus.”
Winning the third hole to get it back to one down, Hurlbert worked his way back to even as the pair made the turn.
Winning hole Nos. 9, 10, 11 and 12, Hurlbert was able to put the throttle down in the blink of an eye to take a commanding 3-up lead through 12. Hendley was able to pick up a hole on No. 15 but was defeated on No. 16, 3 and 2.
For Hurlbert, this event is a prime tune-up for the U.S. Senior Amateur later this month.
“I feel like I’m getting close, but all these reps really help,” Hurlbert said. “It’s a Golfweek event so that’s one of the reasons I like to come [play] and the other reason is because it gives you invaluable reps in match play which candidly we don’t get a lot of on the senior circuit so to speak.”
As he continues to come into form, Hurlbert will face off against 4-seed Brian Keenan.
Defeating 13-seed Brian Kennedy 5 and 4 in the morning session, Kennan faced off against 5-seed Allen Peake who won his morning match 1 up against 12-seed Steve Pitts.
Keenan and Peake battle back and forth for much of the day with Peake erasing a 2-down deficit an eagle on the par-5 9th and a birdie on the par-4 10th.
A birdie, par combo on holes 14 and 15 gave Kennan a 2-up advantage allowing him to close out the quarterfinal match on No. 17 with a par.
In the bottom half of the bracket, a couple of mid-seeds have begun their title run.
No. 6 Ken Kinkopf made light work of No. 11 Jeff Kane, winning 8 and 7 for the largest margin of victory of the day, regardless of division. In the afternoon session, Kinkopf faced 3-seed Kevin VandenBerg, only needing 16 holes to defeat him 4 and 2.
No. 7 seed Kirk Wright had a bit of a tougher road to the semifinals. Ten-seed Michael Healey took Wright to 18 where Wright came away with a 2-up win. In the afternoon, 2-seed Eddie Hargett erased Wright’s 1-up lead on the 18th to force extra holes.
Needing 37 holes to grind his way into the semis, Wright will square off with Kinkopf, who, comparatively speaking, is well-rested. The two will battle it out in a rest-versus-rust match for a chance to run the gamut and catapult themselves into the thick of a playoff run for the Golfweek Player of the Year.
Super Senior Bracket (65-69)
Eight men make up the Super Senior bracket, making byes irrelevant.
The entire bracket so far has been chalk as the top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals.
One-seed Marcus Beck defeated 8-seed Jim Webb 6 and 5; 2-seed James Starnes took down 7-seed Bill Hardaker 3 and 2; number 3 John Armstrong defeated No. 6 John Bailey 3 and 2 and 4-seed Keith Waters won 2 up against No. 5 Greg Goode.
Legends Bracket (70-74)
Another 13-player division set up quite a day in the Legends bracket.
Top two seeds George Walker (No. 1) and Sam Robinson (No. 2) were able to take advantage of their byes, playing their way into the semifinals 2 and 1 and 1 up, respectively.
Facing the top two seeds are No. 5 Pete Allen and No. 3 Bev Hargraves.
Allen rides into Thursday on the backs of a pair of 4 and 3 wins over 12-seed Fred Clark and 4-seed John Osborne. He’ll look to take down No. 1 ranked George Walker for a shot at the championship.
Defeating No. 10 Dale Porter 1 up, Sam Robinson will face an Arkansas legend in Bev Hargraves.
Getting a first-round bye, Hargreaves needed 19 holes to put away Don Kuehn to advance. Kuehn, typically a Super Legend, played down an age bracket, wanting to test his game. After defeating No. 6 Charley Yandell 4 and 2 in the opening round, Kuehn falls just short of a semifinal run, losing out to Hargraves in extras.
Super Legends Bracket (75+)
The eight-man bracket has a bit more parity than its Legends bracket counterpart.
No. 1 ranked John Blank soundly beat No. 8 Ben Dowdey 7 and 5 for the biggest margin of victory on the day. No. 2 George Owens cruised to a 5 and 3 win over No. 7 Richard Kline.
Playing against Blank in the semifinals is 2022 Yancey Ford Award winner Joe Pavoni. As the 5 seed, Pavoni faced off against No. 4 Marty O’Connell. Pulling away late, Pavoni takes a 3 and 2 win into Thursday’s semifinals.
As the 6-seed, John Casstevens pulled off the best upset of the day within the division, taking down No. 3 John (Jack) Marin on the final hole, 1 up to advance to Thursday’s semifinals.