"I don't know what to say right now,"
Ryan had just finished closing out his
Neither player has been here before, figuratively. Ryan actually has been here before, literally. Thirty years ago, he qualified for the
But this week, Ryan, 62, has aced a par 4 (No. 14), beaten a two-time Senior Amateur champion and a two-time
At the end of a long day, in which he played 33 holes to win two matches, the rare air was hard to breathe.
"To be honest with you, I'm a little shocked," said Ryan, who disposed of
Sughrue had to go 19 holes to beat
"Well, I don't really know," Sughrue said. "Like I said yesterday, I kind of see this as I got to knock them down one at a time. So, I'm going to try to just make this one more match, try to play my game and hopefully it will be good enough."
But Sughrue is used to new things. After 25 years in the insurance business, he went to grad school at
"Yeah, you have to be your best friend out here," said Sughrue, who made a 35-foot putt to win a qualifying playoff and get into the championship. "There's so many up-and-downs emotionally in these kind of matches, especially when they mean more and more and more as you go along. It's a grind. It's a mental grind."
Old Warson and hot temperatures have provided a formidable challenge for seniors playing two matches a day. Sughrue had three birdies while going 18 holes to get a big out on
In the afternoon, Sughrue survived his match with Cahill despite six bogeys over the last 13 holes. Ryan had three birdies in his morning match with Dunsmore, but only one during his tussle with Jackson.
"For guys this age to play 36 holes two days in a row is a lot of golf," said Ryan, who captured the Illinois Senior Amateur the week before coming to Old Warson. "That's a lot of golf."
There is good news. By making it to the finals, both players are exempt into the Senior Amateur for the next three years. They both have automatic spots in next year's Senior Open,
What's more, the final match is only scheduled to last as many as 18 holes. After the past two days, it should be a piece of cake.
"I won't sleep at all," Ryan said. "But it's just the old cliche, play one shot at a time and whatever happens happens."
Port will play for title
Also celebrating her 55th birthday, Port advanced to the final match in dramatic style. After defeating
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