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Sparks Native Shoots For Senior Open Spot

By John Stewart

Online Exclusive

Graham Bannister, from Sydney, Australia, and John Howson, of Sparks, Md., each shot a 3-under-par 69 to take the available places in the U.S. Senior Open sectional qualifying at Evergreen Country Club in Haymarket, Va., on July 6. A field of 80 played the course at 6,826 yards, with a par of 72.

Starting from No. 10 in the first group of the day, Bannister, 52, who chose the site because it fit into his European Senior Tour schedule, had four birdies and one bogey. He hit every green in regulation and took 33 putts.

Howson, who tied for fourth in the 54-hole Maryland Amateur Stroke Play tournament over the holiday weekend, had five birdies and two bogeys. Starting in the next-to-last group, one of his birdies was at the 546-yard 18th (his ninth hole), where he narrowly missed a 12-foot putt for an eagle.

It took three extra back-nine holes to sort out a 5-for-2 playoff at 70 for the alternate positions, with George Washburn of Frederick and John McNaney of Catonsville claiming the spots.

Washburn, 62, played in the 2002 U.S. Senior Open at Caves Valley Golf Course. His up-and-down round included an eagle at the 18th (a 238-yard second shot wound up 10 feet from the hole), an 80-foot putt for a birdie, four other birdies and five bogeys. McNaney, 56, recovered from a double bogey at the third (falling back even through 12 holes) to birdie the sixth and eighth holes.

The others in the playoff were Larry Storck, from Baltimore and Steven Ford, Easton, Md., each of whom went out with a bogey at the 12th green, and 2006 Senior Open qualifier Mark Guttenberg, Aldie, Va., went out with a bogey at the 10th.

The championship will be held July 30- Aug. 2 at Crooked Stick Golf Course in Carmel, Ind.

Posted July 7, 2009