ST. LOUIS — Dave Ryan won the U.S. Senior Amateur on Thursday for his first USGA championship, holding off Matthew Sughrue 2 up at Old Warson Country Club.
The 62-year-old Ryan, from Taylorville, Illinois, beat two-time Senior Amateur champion Paul Simson in the round of 16 and two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Tim Jackson in the semifinals in the event for players 55-and-older . Against Simson, Ryan had the third known hole-in-one on a par-4 hole in a USGA championship, acing the 270-yard 14th.
“I’m still in shock, a state of shock,” said Ryan, the Illinois Senior Amateur winner by nine strokes last week. “For a guy from Taylorville, Illinois, to win a national championship, it’s unbelievable.”
The 57-year-old Sughrue is from Arlington, Virginia.
Sughrue won the opening hole, and Ryan took the next five, making a 12-footer for birdie on No. 2, a two-putt par to Sughrue’s bogey on No. 3, a 7-footer for birdie on No. 4, a 20-footer for birdie on No. 5 and a 15-footer for birdie on the par-5 sixth.
“My son gave me a video to watch from Dave Stockton, who is a great putter,” Ryan said. “I took some of his tips and it’s like shooting free throws, you just get over it, see the line, and let it go. And it worked this week. And it worked last week when I played in the state Senior Amateur in Illinois.”
Sughrue rallied to tie, taking the par-4 11th with a par, the par-5 12th and par-3 13th with birdies and the par-4 15th with a par.
“I was trying to hang on and that’s when you get in trouble,” Ryan said. “You start getting the old steering wheel out and start steering it instead of letting it go. Once I missed that par putt on 15, it changed my mindset. I got more aggressive after that and I got back in battle mode.”
Ryan won the 621-yard, par-5 16th with a par. Sughrue missed the green left and down a ridge and his 15-footer for a halve lipped out lipped out. They halved the par-3 17th with pars, and Ryan ended the match with a conceded par on the par-4 18th.
“It’s disappointing. I felt like I had enough game to come back and win and it just didn’t fall my way,” Sughrue said. “He’s a great player and he put on a great exhibition today. But, I’ll take solace in knowing that I probably shook him up a little bit with some of the shots that I had and made it a match. I’ll take that as a good indication of where my game is in senior amateur golf.”
Ryan received a 10-year U.S. Senior Amateur exemption, two-year exemptions into the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur, and one-year exemptions into the U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Open sectional qualifying.