CASHIERS, N.C. – Doug Hanzel won the USGA Senior Amateur on Thursday, beating Pat O'Donnell 3 and 2 in the championship match at Wade Hampton Golf Club.
The 56-year-old Hanzel, from Savannah, Ga., opened a three-hole lead with a par on the par-4 15th and matched O'Donnell's birdie on the par-4 16th to end the match.
"They can't take that away from you," Hanzel said. "I'm at a loss for words. I know you get a lot of perks for winning, but the perk for me is to have your name on a USGA trophy."
Hanzel was the low amateur in the U.S. Senior Open the last two years.
"I'm dumbfounded." Hanzel said. "Really, I couldn't say I envisioned being a USGA champion. It's just an unbelievable feeling. You know, you play in so many USGA events, because I think this is the 20th or 21st I qualified for, so you play in a lot of events, but realistically do you think you're going to win?
"Probably not the other ones. The Senior Amateur I thought I could win. I thought I had enough game to win. But to do it is something else because you got to win six matches. That's hard."
A physician specializing in pulmonary critical care at Southeast Medical Group, Hanzel uses an insulin pump to control his diabetes.
"It was OK," Hanzel said about the diabetes. "I had one little issue yesterday morning for the matches. I was a little low. I didn't feel well. It was kind of good that the matches got delayed yesterday, so we got things under control. Just a bump in the road.
"I have a sensor. Actually, drives me nuts. The correlation is not as good as it should be between the blood level, because the sensor monitors interstitial fluid, which is delayed from the blood. My sensor alarms low and my sugar is OK," he added. "Your sensor is alarming you're low, telling you to take something, but you probably don't need to. It happens when I sleep a lot. It wakes you up every hour or two or every 15 minutes, it will keep alarming. It's like, `Oh, no, I can't do this.'"
The 59-year-old O'Donnell, from Happy Valley, Ore., is a reinstated amateur who works as a maintenance analyst for Boeing. He passed up an exemption next week into the U.S. Mid-Amateur in Birmingham, Ala.
"I am out of (vacation) time," O'Donnell said. "I am kind of down to about $38 here."
In the morning in the rain-delayed semifinals, Hanzel beat Chip Lutz of Reading, Pa., 3 and 2, and O'Donnell edged Buzz Fly of Memphis, Tenn., 2 and 1.
"Chip Lutz is one of the best senior players," Hanzel said. "To go out and take him down in match play, I feel pretty good about myself."