I told Mike he always makes the cut at Senior Opens west of the Mississippi and I was right on. So Mike starts today at 9:17 am mountain time paired with fellow low amateur Jeff Wilson. The Californian plays a lot of amateur golf and at 47 shot 62 in the US Amateur. So should be a great match.
Thanks by the way to John Musselman, Ashley Fox and Marybeth Finster for supplying reports, pictures and videos from the course. Here’s first hole coverage. Rolex says right on time.
Not a great start—gotta be a big emotional letdown after the tension of having to make some big shots to clear the cut line just a little more than 12 hours earlier. Two bogeys to start, then 2 pars, including a par save off a spectator on the 601 yard par 5 third. Wilson, meanwhile, starts off -1 through 5 holes to take a 3 shot lead in the low amateur contest.
Both guys settle in, Mike +2 at the turn and Jeff -2. Mike goes bogey/bird to start the inward nine, Jeff matches with 2 pars. But Mike pars the next five, while Jeff bogies 14 and 16. The tide turns on 17, when Mike knocks in his second bird of the day.
So that puts Mike just one behind his partner. Both par 18. So two really good rounds from the top amateurs in this Open championship. Both have a great chance to take home the top amateur prize at the end of play Sunday.
Your humble webmaster, forced to follow from afar . . .
PS This is the guy Mike hit on #3. Finster treated him and his wife to lunch in the clubhouse after the round. Golf, like karma, is a boomerang.
Mike started the day near the top of the amateur leaderboard. His day began on the harder back nine, and it took its toll, with 4 bogies in the first 6 holes. But then 2 grind-it-out pars and off to the tough 18th.
A third straight par on 18 —where he made double on Thurs. So good momentum heading to the front 9 and its two reachable par 5s.
Birdie 1! So honors on 2—iron off the tee on short par 4 lands in bunker and leads to bogey. Long par 5 #3, where Mike rolled in eagle Thursday, ends in a routine par. So six holes to go and starting to watch the cut line. Mike’s at +6, and +9 or better plays the weekend.
Bogeys tough #4 par 3, then grinds out 4 pars. Gets to 18 needing a bogey on the short par 5. A wayward drive forces a layup to about 150 yards. Hits it to within 15 feet.
And the crowd goes wild.
Mike 2 putts for par.
Finishes +5 for the day, +7 for the tourney, 1 above the cut line and tied for low amateur. Happy belated (one day) anniversary to Mike and Marybeth! They deserve it.
So Mike finished the day at a very respectable +2, though it could have been better. A double bogey on 18 leaves a bad taste but that’s golf. So let’s start off with the day’s hightlight, an eagle on the 608 yard par 5 #3. Love Scott Matirne’s Cajun whoop.
Today’s the day God’s been getting Mike Finster ready for! (Of course, they all are.) The gallery gathers–good crowd this year.
And at 8:55 a.m. he’s off. As usual, Mike’s scorecard is “colorful.” But hanging around even is a good score. There are some big numbers out there, including Hall Fame pitcher John Smoltz at +10 after 11 and Jesper Parnevik (when did he get old?) at +6 after 6.
Another great day on the golf course for Mike. He got to spend some time with Dow Finsterwald (no relation), one of the greatest golfters of the late 1950s and early 1960s and the 1958 PGA Champion (only has 1 more major than Finster, not wald). He’s pro emeritus at The Broadmoor.
Then off to the range, where the Most Interesting Man in Tanglewood hung out with the Most Interesting Man in the World.
It’s always fun to watch Mike hit the ball. On the first tee, MB says Mike outdrove the guys in his group by 50 yards. Including a guy named Bernhard Langer.
Who might be able to teach Mike something about the greens . . . .