__TULSA, OKLA.--__It's been 10 years since a mid-amateur last earned medalist honors at the U.S. Amateur--Gene Elliott at Pebble Beach. Never, though, has the title gone to anyone who also qualified for an AARP card.
Yet it's been that kind of year for Tim Jackson.
Having turned 50 in February, and switched to a cross-handed putting grip in April, the Germantown, Tenn., native made headlines last month when he held the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick GC outside of Indianapolis. That week, Jackson shot an opening-round 66, the lowest score by an amateur ever in the Senior Open, then backed it up with a second-round 67 (he eventually finished T-11).
A three-bogey stretch Tuesday on Nos. 12, 13 and 14 at Cedar Ridge CC--which came after USGA officials issued Jackson's threesome a second warning for slow play that ultimately led to a one-stroke penalty assessed to Jackson and Patrick Duncan Jr. at the end of the round--looked as if it would keep Jackson from breaking Walter Travis' record for being the oldest medalist in U.S. Amateur history, Travis having won the last of his six medalist honors in 1908 at age 46. When Jackson finished his two-over 72 at Cedar Ridge, he had a two-day even-par 140 total while Florida graduate__Will Strickler__ sat at two under through 27 holes.
Strickler, however, bogeyed three holes coming in while playing Southern Hills CC, the course that will host the remainder of the tournament, allowing Jackson to claim the record for oldest man to shoot the low stroke-play qualifying score at the world's most prestigious amateur championship.
"I'm having more fun now that I've turned 50 than when I was in my 30s chasing a Walker Cup schedule and playing the whole amateur circuit, if you will," said Jackson, playing in his 13th U.S. Amateur, having twice reached the quarterfinals (1994, 1995). "I go play the places I want to play and just enjoy the competition, whatever it is."
Speaking of the Walker Cup, after Jackson's performance in the Senior Open, his name was mentioned as a dark-horse candidate to make this year's U.S. team that will play at Merion GC in two weeks. Captain Buddy Marucci wouldn't comment on Jackson's chances to be picked for one of the last two spots when the USGA named the first eight players for the squad earlier this month. Should Jackson continue his solid play at Southern Hills over the next few days, though, the possibility of making the team (Jackson played in 1995 and 1999) becomes more and more real.
Here's a list of the last time a mid-amateur has achieved various milestones at the U.S. Amateur
Last time reaching the quarterfinals: Trip Kuehne, Hazeltine National, 2006
Last time reaching the semifinals: Austin Eaton, Merion, 2005__
Last time reaching the finals:__ Tom McKnight, Oak Hill, 1998
Last time winning the championship: John Harris, Champions GC, 1993
Jackson claimed he had never been penalized a stroke for slow play throughout his amateur career until Tuesday. "I'm out here trying to beat the best amateurs in the world," he said. "It means an awful lot to me to be the medalist. And then I get a penalty shot for slow play, it's just bizarre. I'm not happy about this at all."
Rules officials warned the golfers in Jackson's threesome they were out of place after the fourth hole, and gave them a second warning on the ninth hole. While eventually assessing Jackson and Duncan a one-shot penalty at the end of the round, the third member of their group, John Kostis, did not receive a penalty. An on-course monitor said that Kostis, son of instructor and CBS golf analyst__Peter Kostis__, was the only player in the group attempting to speed up play.
Just who Jackson's first-round match-play opponent will be won't be decided until Wednesday morning. When the second round of stroke-play qualifying ended Tuesday, there were 27 players tied for 61st with eight-over 148 scores. All 27 players will return Wednesday morning to playoff for the remaining four spots in the match-play field.
Most notable first-round match-up?
Match 13 at 9:40 a.m. has first-team college All-Americans and U.S. Walker Cup teammates Bud Cauley and Rickie Fowler playing each other.
Among the 27 golfers in the playoff are NCAA medalist Matt Hill and U.S. Walker Cup captain Buddy Marucci and John Kostis.