Finster, Haag (70) Share Day 1 Lead at Challenging Martis Camp

By David Shefter, USGA

| Aug 26, 2023 | Truckee, Calif.

Finster, Haag (70) Share Day 1 Lead at Challenging Martis Camp

What Happened

The 68th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship could not have started any better at picturesque Martis Camp Club, a Tom Fazio design situated not far from Lake Tahoe. Clear blue skies, a gentle breeze and temperatures in the 70s with a relative humidity of less than 30 percent was the kind of Chamber-of-Commerce weather anyone would want for an 18-hole round.

But Martis Camp, with its thick rough, tree-lined fairways and elevation changes, wasn’t quite as nice as Mother Nature on Saturday for the opening round of stroke play.

Just six players broke par on the longest course in U.S. Senior Amateur history (it measured 7,235 yards for Round 1), with Randy Haag, 64, of Orinda, Calif., and Mike Finster, 58, of Saint Petersburg, Fla., leading the way with 2-under-par 70s.

Four others posted 71s: 2019 champion Bob Royak, of Alpharetta, Ga.; Brad Wayment, of Mesa, Ariz.; 2016 runner-up Matt Sughrue, of Arlington, Va.; and Ronnie Clark, of Scotland. Five others, including 2013 USA Walker Cup competitor Todd White, managed to shoot even-par 70.

The stroke average was 78.3.

“The course setup is fantastic,” said Haag, who is competing in his eighth U.S. Senior Amateur and 36th USGA championship overall. “The pins are in good spots. I played here about 12 years ago in a [U.S.] Mid-Am qualifier and I made a 7 on the par-3 third hole. I fought hard the rest of the day and shot even [par] and was medalist. Seventy-five played off [for the final spots]. This course showed some teeth.”

The Olympic Club member had a wild round that featured seven birdies, including three in a row in the middle of his first nine (he started on No. 10), and then closed with birdies on two of Martis Camp’s most challenging holes: Nos. 8 and 9. He hit a 22-degree rescue into the 249-yard eighth to 6 feet, and then ripped a 320-yard 3-wood tee shot on the 457-yard ninth, setting up an approach to 20 feet, and he converted the downhill putt.

Finster, a former Northwestern University golfer who like Haag was in the afternoon wave, only had three birdies, but all of them came on the inward nine. That included a two-putt 4 on the 541-yard, par-5 15th and nearly driving the green on the 309-yard 16th. He pitched the ball to 8 feet to set up his final birdie. On the 466-yard, downhill closing hole, he hit nearly a 400-yard drive into the right rough and settled for a two-putt par from 35 feet.

A five-time U.S. Senior Open qualifier, Finster is playing in his first U.S. Senior Amateur after he became exempt by being among the top 30 age-eligible points leaders in the World Amateur Golf Ranking®.

“It is such a gem,” said Finster of Martis Camp. “The fairways are wide enough, but now they’re starting to dry out, so you are getting some of the run-out. I got a putting tip halfway through the round from my brother [and caddie], Casey, which helped me because I was a little nervy early in the round, and he told me just to move it up in your stance a little bit. That was the key.”

Royak, 61, could have joined Haag and Finster, but after getting to 3 under with birdies on 15 and 16, he double-bogeyed the par-3 17th hole when his tee shot hit the rocks short of the green and he couldn’t find the ball. Royak then made a superb up-and-down par from 25 yards short of the green on No. 18 after finding a fairway bunker with his drive. Royak came to Martis Camp off a great summer, which includes wins in the Senior Jones Cup at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga., the North & South Senior at Pinehurst and the Lupton Invitational at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., the host site for this championship next year.

Clark, 62, is making his USGA championship debut this week after becoming fully exempt by being one of the top 30 age-eligible points leaders in the WAGR®. The captain of the six-man Scottish Senior National Team that will compete in the European Senior Team Championships in early September in the Czech Republic, got it to 3 under par following a birdie on the 549-yard, par-5 seventh hole before succumbing to a pair of late bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9 (he started on No. 10).

Outside of one loose swing on No. 17, Bob Royak, the 2019 champion, had a strong first round at Martis Camp with a 71. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

Outside of one loose swing on No. 17, Bob Royak, the 2019 champion, had a strong first round at Martis Camp with a 71. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

Wayment, who lost in the Round of 32, 1 down, to eventual runner-up Jerry Gunthorpe in the 2021 U.S. Senior Amateur, prepped for this week by qualifying for this year’s U.S. Senior Open at SentryWorld, where the rough was even more challenging. The 58-year-old, who took up competitive golf in his mid-40s, birdied three of his last four holes to post his 71.

Sughrue, 63, also reached 2 under par when he eagled the par-5 seventh hole (his 16th of the round), but gave one stroke back a hole later.

White, a high school history teacher from Spartanburg, S.C., was in the group of five who posted 72s. A first-year eligible player who won the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (with Nathan Smith) in 2015, the 55-year-old White managed a nice up-and-down par on the ninth hole, his last of the day, after driving it in a fairway bunker.

One of the players he beat in that Four-Ball final at The Olympic Club, Sherrill Britt, of West End, N.C., also shot even par, along with Jon Brown, of Adel, Iowa, Steve Harwell, of Mooresville, N.C., and Brent Paterson, of New Zealand.

What’s Next

All 156 competitors will play a second and final round of stroke play on Sunday after which the field will be cut to the low 64 scorers. Should a playoff be necessary to determine the final match-play spots, it will be conducted on Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. PT, starting on No. 17. Should it continue, players would go to No. 18 and then back to Nos. 17 and 18 until the spots are filled.

Brad Wayment, of Mesa, Ariz., put himself in solid position to make match play with a first-round 71 on Saturday at Martis Camp. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

Brad Wayment, of Gilbert, Ariz., put himself in solid position to make match play with a first-round 71 on Saturday at Martis Camp. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)


  • Martis Camp member Mark Sear, of Los Angeles, Calif., had the honor of hitting the opening tee shot of the championship. The five-time club champion also is one of the few who chose to walk over riding in a cart, an option the Senior Amateur competitors have. His nephew and University of Nevada freshman, Ryan Sear, is serving as his caddie. The younger Sear resides in Reno, Nev.

  • Sear, who shot a 2-over 74, had a number of friends and family following him around Martis Camp. His father, brother, sister-in-law and cousin were among his gallery, along with a bunch of members. Some Martis Camp staff, including Chief Operating Officer Gus Jones, watched him begin the round at 7:15 a.m. PDT.

  • Defending champion Rusty Strawn shot 2-under over his final nine holes to post a 76.

  • Paul Simson, 72, of Raleigh, N.C., a two-time U.S. Senior Amateur champion, struggled to an 82. Simson has only missed match play once in 15 previous appearances (2021) and has never lost a Round-of-64 match (14 for 14).

  • This is the second U.S. Senior Amateur that brothers Bob and Paul Royak have competed in together. In 2019, Paul, two years younger than his sibling, missed the cut while Bob won the championship at Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C. Paul carded a 4-over 76 in Round 1.

  • Pete Betzold, of Cincinnati, Ohio, holed out twice from 100-plus yards, including an eagle 3 on the par-5 15th hole. He began the round by holing out with a wedge for a 5 on the par-5 10th after losing a ball.

  • No player had a more roller-coaster two nines than John Barry. The University Park, Fla., resident, who is a longtime member and two-time Senior Club Champion at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club, site of next year’s U.S. Women’s Open, posted a 4-under 32 on the first nine, then came home in 43 for a 4-over 75. Barry is competing this week four months after undergoing minor back surgery.

  • On several in-house televisions inside the Martis Camp Clubhouse, the final match of the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur won by Scottie Scheffler, was playing. Scheffler defeated Davis Riley, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole championship match.

  • Tom Jereb was disqualified after his round on Saturday for failing to correct the mistake of playing from a wrong place which was a serious breach. Under Rule 14.7b(1), the mistake needed to be corrected prior to starting the next hole.  


“Just to get it to match play. That’s the only goal. There’s no brownie points [in stroke play]. And anybody can beat anybody on a given day.” – Mike Finster on his game plan for Sunday’s second round

“I’m thrilled to have that kind of a round. It’s not an easy course. A lot of tough holes. And you’ve got to keep it in the fairway. I had some shots in the rough and holy cow, you’re just trying to move it forward as far as you can and hope for the best.” – Brad Wayment after shooting 1-under 71

“I three-putted three times. I hate to say I should have been a bit lower, but I really hit the ball good. [But] you don’t have to shoot 60 [in stroke play]. You just have to get into the match play. I came into the week in good form. I put a lot of pressure on myself to shoot a good score today.” – Bob Royak

“It’s a tough golf course. If you don’t find the fairway, you’ve got a chance to make some numbers. I managed to keep the ball in play. First hole of the day, No. 10, a par 5, I’m right there in front of the green and I make 6. Tight lie, cold hands, not a good combination. I’m happy with the start. It was pretty solid. Obviously, you always feel like you left shots out there.” – Todd White on his even-par 72

“I’m not used to hitting 50-degree wedges 131 yards and 3-woods 280 [yards] up the hill into the wind.” – Ronnie Clark, of Scotland, on playing in altitude

“That was scary. I yanked it straight left and I hit a tree, and it bounced back in the fairway. And I made a par. My mom passed away a number of years ago and I said, ‘Thanks mom.’ It was so lucky. But I’ve never been more nervous on the first hole than I was today. It was crippling.” – Martis Camp member Mark Sear on hitting the opening tee shot

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.