A star-studded trio are set to duke it out in the final pairing of the Golfweek Senior Division National Championship at Desert Willow Golf Club in Palm Desert, California.
Jerry Gunthorpe, 2021 U.S. Senior Amateur runner-up, and 2021 U.S. Senior Open low-am Billy Mitchell have a tough test ahead of them as they are set to chase down 36-hole leader Jerry Slagle.
With conditions playing completely different than the first round and practice rounds, the Firecliff Course played tougher than usual on Monday.
First-round leader Gunthorpe was able to keep damage to a minimum with 17 pars and a lone bogey on the hardest hole of the tournament, the par-3 No. 17. He now sits two shots back of Slagle who picked up where he left off Sunday.
Slagle continued his onslaught of birdies, picking up five more in Monday’s second round to lead the tournament with 12 total.
“I made birdies where you’re supposed to,” Slagle told Golfweek following his 2-under 70. “I was pretty happy.”
Rounding out the final group is Billy Mitchell. Playing out of Atlanta, Mitchell was most notably the low-amateur at the 2021 U.S. Senior Open. Using five birdies to scrub away at an opening round 2-over 74, Mitchell is now 1 under for the tournament and looks to challenge his playing partners for the title on Tuesday.
Mitchell is tied for third alongside Greg Saunders who is in the penultimate pairing with Joe Palmer and Walker Taylor who sit at 3 over in a four-way tie for fifth.
As for Slagle, he’s not putting too much thought into being chased by two of the top senior amateur players in the world.
“I don’t want to think about anything,” Slagle said about being five under and leading the event. “I just want to go out and play golf.”
With a win and 1,200 points on the line, any of the three men in the final group can jump into the top-10 in the Golfweek Senior Amateur rankings. Slagle is currently No. 97, Gunthorpe is No. 37, and Mitchell, who is No. 17 in the rankings, all can make huge strides in the year-long race for the Golfweek Senior Player of the Year honor.