The amazing Mr Jackson’s back

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A 50-year-old, who, not long ago, led the US Senior Open for two rounds, now leads the US Amateur after Monday’s first round.

A 50-year-old who only started playing golf at 16, lead the US Amateur after the first round of the stroke play on Monday.

He is Tim Jackson who seems to be a man for all seasons. He has already won the USGA’s Mid-Amateur Championship twice and earlier this year captured the headlines when he sensationally led the seasoned professionals at the US Senior Open for two rounds.

The US Amateur, thrice won by Tiger Woods before he turned professional, is traditionally the domain of the hungry young gun on the way up, but out in front of the the 156-strong field at Southern Hills Country Club after Monday’s play was the amazing Mr Jackson who has made his living from the estate business for most of his life.

He shot a 2-under 68 on Monday to take the lead, having made three birdies against one bogey.

He was the only golfer at Southern Hills to break par as against the four who managed it with 1-under rounds at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow.

Jackson, of Germantown, Tennessee., will move across town to the longer Cedar Ridge course on Tuesday for the final qualifying round, after which the total field of 312 will be cut to 64 for the match play stage of the championship which runs from Wednesday to Sunday’s two-man final at Southern Hills.

The men who posted 1-under scores to lead at Cedar Ridge were Matthew Broome of Barrington, Rhode Island, John Peterson of Fort Worth, Texas, Will Strickler of Gainesville, Florida. And Cameron Tringale of Laguna Niguel in California.

Patrick Duncan of Rancho Santa Fe, California., was the only player to post an even-par 70 at Southern Hills, while five players shot 70s at Cedar Ridge.

Among those at 71 was Rickie Fowler, currently the top-ranked amateur in the United States.

A fair number of the pre-tournament favorites struggled.

One was Canadian Matt Hill, who won the 2009 NCAA Championship at North Carolina State, as well as seven other college tournaments, could only card a 75 at Cedar Ridge,a par 70 course that has been stretched to 7,336 yards by the USGA.

“It’s a tough course,” said Hill, who has played three times on the PGA Tour this summer, and tied for 70th at the AT&T at Congressional.

Jackson is constantly asked why he hasn’t turned professional. It’s simply because he much prefers the amateur game, he says.

“It’s all I’ve ever known,” Jackson said. “I started playing golf by accident when I was 16. I was a baseball player and we got rained out and a bunch of us went to the driving range. I was a good athlete, but golf was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. But it just got me.”

In addition to the two Mid-Amateur wins, Jackson has twice been a member of the US Walker Cup team and says he would like to captain the team sometime in the future.

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