Whether it was 10 minutes of putting or two hours on the driving range, Mark Bemowski has tried not to let a day go by without practicing some part of his golf game. And for the past year, he has had one thought in his mind during those sessions: winning the U.S. Senior Amateur championship.
Bemowski fulfilled that mission with a 4-and-3 victory over Greg Reynolds on Thursday at Bel-Air Country Club. It was sweet revenge for Bemowski, who lost to Reynolds in the 2002 senior amateur final, and it completed a yearlong process of preparation.
He tailored his schedule to play courses similar to Bel-Air, he entered more match-play tournaments than in past years, and switched to a long putter to help control a flaw. Every shot he hit at the range, he said, he envisioned a shot at Bel-Air.
"The entire year this was my entire focus," said Bemowski, 58, of Mukwonago, Wis. "Everything I did was with this tournament in mind. I don't know if anyone has worked harder than I have trying to prepare for this tournament."
Bemowski, who runs a corporate logo company, had been close before. After he lost the 2002 final, he advanced to the third round of match play in 2003, but lost on the 18th hole.
"I felt like the fox with the grapes," Bemowski said. "So close."
He and Reynolds had become friends since that 2002 final and Bemowski said he had dreamed of a rematch. He served notice early Thursday that he didn't intend to waste his second chance.
Bemowski, who won the first hole in five of his six matches, won the first three holes against Reynolds and extended his lead to 5-up by the turn. He had four birdies on the front nine, leaving Reynolds, who trailed only once in 71 holes during his first five matches, in a daze.
"He put me in a bad hole and it was pretty hard to dig my way out," said Reynolds, 57, of Grand Blanc, Mich.
Reynolds staged a mini-charge on Bel-Air's difficult back nine with victories on the 10th and 12th holes to get within 3-down, but Bemowski won the par-five 14th, then closed the match with a par on No. 15. Reynolds did not have a birdie.
"I got it on guide mode on the back nine," Bemowski said. "I knew that if I kept hitting fairways and greens, it was going to be impossible to catch me."
Mired in an awful rookie season, Jason Dufner shot a seven-under 65 to match his best round of the year and take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro, N.C. Dufner has missed the cut in 15 of 26 tournaments, and with only two events left, he's 186th on the money list.... Retief Goosen was the only winner on a rainy opening day of the World Match Play Championship at Virginia Water, England, beating Jeff Maggert by a record 12 and 11. Goosen's margin of victory exceeded the previous record in the 36-hole matches of 11 and 10, when Mark O'Meara beat Vijay Singh in the second round in 1998.
Associated Press contributed to this report.