Lee wins Senior Amateur Qualifier in playoff

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2001

If he hit the ball just right, Van Lee Jr., knew his shot from about 125 yards on the No.2 par four at Beau Pr\u00E9 Country Club would put him in good position on the green.

And a chance to close out the United States Golf Association Senior Amateur Qualifier on the second playoff hole.

&uot;I knew if it carried the bunker, it would release to the hole,&uot; said Lee.

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When he clubbed his second shot, he thought it rolled within 10-20 feet from the hole, which was fine for him for a birdie chance. When he walked up to the green, he discovered his ball laid just four feet from the pin, releasing to the hole perfectly.

Lee pushed in the birdie putt to win the playoff over Dennis Warner and advance to the USGA Senior Amateur Championship in St. Louis Sept. 8-13.

&uot;I’ve got a lot friends that are going to be there,&uot; Lee said. &uot;I’ve played a couple of senior tournaments. I’m looking forward to it.&uot;

Lee, from Bastrop, La., and Warner, from Monroe, La., finished 18 holes tied at 71, five strokes better than the next closer golfer. The tie forced a playoff hole.

Both players bogied the first playoff hole. Lee had an opportunity to win it, but he missed a six-foot par putt, leaving it short.

&uot;I had a chance to close it out, and I didn’t,&uot; Lee said. &uot;Normally, you don’t get second chances. I was fortunate to get a second chance.&uot;

On the second hole, Warner’s tee shot landed in the first cut of rough. He saved himself by playing a second shot that landed about 10 feet from the pin.

But Lee’s shot rolled a bit closer, eventually giving him the win.

&uot;A birdie’s going to win a lot of playoffs, particularly in the amateur ranks,&uot; said Warner.

The qualifier was Warner’s first look at the entire Beau Pr\u00E9 course. He only got in 11 holes in the rain on Wednesday.

&uot;I just kind of played up and down. Birdies and bogies. Nothing pretty today,&uot; Warner said. This was also his first time playing in a qualifier.

Lee moves on to his first USGA Senior Amateur. He has played in the qualifiers in three previous years, coming close his first year.

Lee started his round off slow, standing at two-over par after seven holes. But things changed after that. He birdied the ninth, 11th and 12th holes to move him to one-under par.

&uot;I played really good the last 12 holes,&uot; Lee said. &uot;The first six holes are difficult golf holes.&uot;