Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Defending Champ Stays Alive in Title Hunt

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Defending Champ Stays Alive in Title Hunt

Article excerpt

What the St. Louis amateur golf community has learned about Scott Thomas is this: Anytime his honor is on the line, stand back.

It was his experience and steely resolve - as well as his honor - that were in the forefront Thursday at Bellerive Country Club in the opening two rounds of match play in the St. Louis District Golf Association Championship. Thomas began his run at a second consecutive title by eliminating David Sharp 6 and 5 in the morning and Dan Kelley 3 and 2 in the afternoon.

"It's been a pretty uneventful summer for me," Thomas said, "but I expect to do well in everything I'm in. Being defending champion helped me get focused - and it didn't hurt that we're playing a great course."

In what may have been Thursday's feature match, Jim Mason rallied to oust Bill Bahn 2 and 1 in the afternoon. Bahn, seeded No. 2 behind Thomas, led 2-up at the turn.

"Then it got good," said Mason, the 1976 District champion, who birdied the 11th and 13th to draw even and begin applying heat.

The swing hole was the 13th, where after Mason registered his birdie. Mason won the 14th and 16th to go 2-up.

At No. 17, Mason said he "caught a huge break. I was tired. I hit a 1-iron (off the tee) to play it safe and keep it out of the creek. But when I hit it, it was going into the water. It glanced off a tree branch and ended up in the rough."

The match ended at the 17th, which was halved. Mason is a Bellerive member.

Two more rounds of matches today will trim the field of eight survivors to the two finalists for Sunday's championship. In today's quarterfinal round, Thomas will meet Karl Elbrecht, who defeated Roger Null 1-up in the morning with a 10-footer for par at the 18th.

Mason will face Bob Beckmann in a quarterfinal match that pairs two former professionals who regained amateur status.

A newcomer to area major competitive tournaments, Kelley, 26, nonetheless knew with whom he was paired. …

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