Wyantenuck Country Club's Andy Congdon is headed back to the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship for the third time in four years.
Congdon, a day after winning his 10th Allied Championship at Skyline Country Club, shot a 3-under-par 69 to earn medalist honors by 5 shots in a qualifier at The Quechee Club in Quechee, Vt., on Monday.
When the 59-year-old bogeyed the ninth hole with a three-putt to turn in 1-over 37, a 69 looked unlikely. Congdon said he was "depressed, but only momentarily."
That's because just a few minutes later his second shot on No. 10 with a sand wedge found the bottom of the cup for a round-changing eagle 2.
"It landed about 10 feet short, took one hop to the right and trickled into the cup," Congdon said.
He was off and running, playing the final eight holes in 2 under with the help of a suddenly hot putter. On the front nine, he missed a short par putt on No. 1 and three-putted on Nos. 4 and 9.
"The greens were very tricky and quick, especially after Skyline," Congdon said referring to the Lanesborough course's comparatively slow putting surfaces. "After the three-putt on No. 4, I didn't panic. I just told myself to be patient and get used to the fast greens."
The eagle seemed to be the magic potent he needed to find success with the putter.
"As poorly as I putted on the front, I turned it around on the back," Congdon said. "You have to know how to adjust. It's not like this is my first rodeo and I haven't gone from one speed of greens to another on different days."
The key putts came on No. 13 (6-foot par save), 14 (a big-breaking 7-foot birdie putt), 16 (8-foot par save) and 18 (a 21-foot birdie putt to finish with a flourish).
Congdon, the reigning South Carolina Senior Amateur champion, gave himself just passing grades for his ball-striking.
"I hit it OK," he said. "I like it when my irons are covering the flagstick and I know they are going to be close. I probably only did that three times, but I did hit most of the others good enough to be on the greens."
Congdon failed to qualify for last year's U.S. Senior Amateur after a great run in the 2011 event at Kinloch Golf Club in Virginia that spurred a last-season surge led to him earning Massachusetts Senior Player of the Year honors.
Congdon made it all the way to the round of 16 at Kinloch before losing a hotly contested match 2 and 1 to New Hampshire's Philip Pleat. Pleat eventually advanced to the final before losing to Louis Lee.
"This will be my third chance, and quite frankly, I am just going to go down there and try to enjoy myself a little more," Congdon said. "I'm going to try to take things a little less seriously and just let things happen."
The tournament will be played at the Wade Hampton Club in Cashiers, N.C. from Sept. 21-26. Cashiers is located a little south of Asheville in the western part of the state.
Coincidentally, North Carolina is Congdon's next tournament stop. He is heading to his winter home in Garden City, S.C., to prepare for the prestigious North-South Senior Amateur at Pinehurst next week.
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