Sean Knapp, a top amateur for 25 years, qualified for two USGA championships in sectional qualifying on consecutive days last week, a rare feat not duplicated here. He advanced to the Amateur Public Links at Sinking Valley near Altoona on June 21, with 71-72-143, taking the only spot by eight strokes over Trent Karlik. The following day in the Senior Open at St. Clair, he found himself in a 3 for 2 playoff with St. Clair’s David Brown and Allegheny’s Roy Vucinich at 71.
Fortunate to be in the playoff at all, Knapp holed a 50-foot putt for a par on his 17th hole, the par five #8, then a long birdie putt on his home hole, #9. Up to that point Knapp had made no putts of length in a good ball striking round. His par from off the green on the second playoff hole, the par-3 fifteenth, was due to a great lob wedge from the short side out of deep rough. His shot hung on the lip of the hole. Brown outlasted Vucinich with a par on the fourth extra hole to gain the second spot.
It’s a rare golfer who qualifies for the Amateur Public Links at age 50. Thus the USGA scheduled this year’s APL and Senior Open in the same week. The APL will be played July 9-14, while the Senior Open at Indianwood G&CC, Lake Orion, Michigan, north of Detroit, is July 12-15. Knapp withdrew from the APL and will compete in the Senior Open. He has qualified for around 30 USGA championships, including the Amateur, Mid-Amateur, Amateur Public Links, and his first Senior Open. He has advanced to match play in all three amateur competitions, reaching the quarter-finals in the 1998 Amateur, twice to the semi-finals in the Mid-Am, the most recent being 2010, and the second round in the APL. He once lost a first round match in the APL while shooting 66, which may be the lowest losing score in the championship’s history.