Tom Brandes, an amateur from Bellevue, Wash., took medalist honors at the Rope Rider at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Wash. to earn one of two qualifying spots into the 2013 U.S. Senior Open Championship. Tom Hale of Lakewood, Wash., also an amateur, earned the other spot. Both players will go on to compete in the 34th U.S. Senior Open, which will be held July 11-14 at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club.
Brandes shot a 2-under par 69 on the Jacobsen-Hardy design, finishing his round with birdies on the par-5 17th and par-4 18th holes to leapfrog into the medalist position. This is the ninth USGA national championship that Brandes has qualified for, the others being three U.S. Mid-Amateurs, two State Team Championships, one USGA Senior Amateur, and now three U.S. Senior Opens. He last qualified for a national championship in 2010, when he played in the U.S. Senior Open held that year at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash.
Brandes didn’t start playing competitive golf until the age of 35. Familiar with the Rope Rider course, he won the 2012 Pacific Northwest Senior Amateur held there last June. “The dream keeps going,” he said after today’s round. “I really can’t explain it, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
For Hale, this is the second USGA national championship he has qualified for, the other one being the 1990 U.S. Amateur Public Links, held that year at Eastmoreland GC in Portland, Ore. He said he hasn’t played much competitive golf recently. “When I made the turn,” he said about today’s round, “I knew how there were a couple good scores already in, and I knew I needed to do something.” He played the back nine 2-under, to finish with a 1-under par 70. “I guess I need to make some plane reservations. I’m going to give my brother first chance to be my caddie.”
The Washington State Golf Association (WSGA) is the local representative of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and conducted this qualifier for the U.S. Senior Open Championship.
The U.S. Senior Open is open to professional golfers and amateurs with a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 3.4 who are 50 years of age at the start of championship play. A total of 2,746 golfers have entered to play in this year’s championship, of which 78 are fully exempt into the championship proper. The USGA received entries for the 2013 U.S. Senior Open from golfers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and representing 27 countries.
The U.S. Senior Open is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.