Raleigh’s Paul Simson has a few extra stops to add to his golf itinerary for 2013.
There’s the U.S. Amateur. Simson will be playing in that.
There’s the U.S. Mid-Amateur. Simson will give that another go.
There’s the U.S. Senior Open. Simson is exempt into that, and also has a spot in sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open.
Then there’s the U.S. Senior Amateur. Simson already had that scheduled but it again will be special – he’ll be the defending champion.
For the second time in three years, Simson, 61, has won the national event and got his hands on the big silverware. He has added another U.S. Golf Association championship to his collection of titles and all the perks that go with it.
“I enjoyed this one a lot. It was a very, very sweet one,” Simson said.
The championship was held last week at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J., on a Donald Ross golf course about 25 minutes from Simson’s old hometown of Chatham, N.J. He learned to play golf at Fairmount Country Club in Chatham, where his parents were members, where he was club champion.
Simson first spotted his future wife, Chris, on the ninth green at Fairmount. He later proposed to her behind the ninth green.
Simson’s son, Phillip, was again on the bag, serving as his dad’s caddie in the tournament. That made it an emotional return for Simson, taking his son to his old Chatham neighborhood and visiting the family cemetery.
“Yeah, we went back where ol’ Pauley boy grew up,” Simson said. “There were a lot of old memories, a lot of cool stuff to see.”
But the trip was more than nostalgic. Simson had golf to play and played it well in the match-play event, finally topping Curtis Skinner 4-and-3 in the 18-hole title match Thursday.
Simson’s victory in the 2010 U.S. Senior Amateur – at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Orlando, Fla. – was his first USGA title after years of coming up short in national events. He had been dominant in amateur golf in the Carolinas, twice winning the North & South Amateur, but had not been able to break through on the national stage.
“To win the first one was a true honor and got the monkey off my back in USGA championships,” Simson said. “Having played in so many, that was a real thrill. But winning the second one was a validation that the first one was not a fluke.”
Past champions of the U.S. Senior Amateur include such players as William C. Campbell, Bill Hyndman III, Marvin “Vinny” Giles and the late Dale Morey of High Point, who won in 1974 and 1977.
Morey once held the career record for Carolinas Golf Association victories. Simson has since topped it.
Simson said a thigh injury hampered him during the summer, noting, “My play slacked off.” But therapy helped and he was ready for his trip back home his hometown in New Jersey.
After playing the quarterfinals and semifinals on Wednesday, Simson said he was all set to watch the first debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. But his caddie nixed that idea.
“Phillip didn’t want me to get worked up,” Simson said, laughing. “He made the right choice. We were fully refreshed the next day.”
Simson earned a berth in sectional qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Open, which will be played at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia. He’s exempt into the U.S. Senior Open (Country Club of Omaha) and into qualifying for match-play in the 2013 U.S. Amateur (The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.) and the U.S. Mid-Amateur (Country Club of Birmingham.)
“What can I say? The whole week was a treat,” Simson said.