Wilson Gets 1st USGA Title in 64th Senior Am

Jeff Wilson of Fairfield finally has his first United States Golf Association title after years of trying.

The 55-year-old Wilson took charge on the back nine and claimed a 2-and-1 victory over defending champion Sean Knapp of Oakmont, Pa., to win the 64th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.

“I think Sean said it best (at the awards ceremony), it’s really hard to win one of these things,” said Wilson, who became the first medalist to take home the U.S. Senior Am title since John Richardson 31 years ago. “First you’ve got to get over yourself and then you have to beat the guy playing with you. And it’s difficult.

“I always thought I was good enough to be a USGA champion, but I never work put the work in. And that shows up when the matches are on the line. This year, I put the work in.”

Wilson, whose first USGA event was the U.S. Junior Amateur in the late 1970s, played the last eight holes of the final in the equivalent of 4-under-par, with the normal match-play concessions.

Taking advantage of his distance off the tee, he grabbed a 1-up lead with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 13th hole and never looked back. The lead grew to 2-up when Knapp three-putted the next hole for a bogey and after they halved the 16th hole with birdies and No. 17 with pars, it was over.

“How is this his first (USGA) win?” Knapp asked rhetorically after losing his crown. “Anybody that’s played amateur golf at a high level has known Jeff Wilson. He’s a superstar. You did not see a senior golfer out there. You saw one of the best amateur golfers in the country.

“We were playing great golf. What is there to say? Sometimes you lose. I don’t think that there’s any offense to that. I think that’s more of a testament to Jeff. I gave him what I could give him today. I think all the credit goes to him.”

Wilson is the only player in USGA history to earn medalist honors in the U.S. Amateur, the U.S. Mid-Amateur and the U.S. Senior Amateur.

Earlier this summer he was low amateur in the U.S. Senior Open, joining two-time USGA champion Vinny Giles III as the only golfers to earn that distinction in a U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open.

Wilson had near-misses in USGA tournaments over the years, reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2001 and 2002, and making the quarterfinals of that championship on three other occasions.

Already enjoying a strong season by winning the Southern California Golf Association Mid-Amateur and losing a playoff in the Northern California Golf Association Mid-Amateur, Wilson became eligible for the U.S. Senior Am when he turned 55 in June.

Then he joined Knapp as the only players claim the title in their first year of eligibility.

For complete results, visit http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/championships/2018/u-s–senior-amateur-.html#!scoring

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