Steve Melnyk contends in Lupton event

Steve Melnyk contends in Lupton event

May 27th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sports

Familiar names and familiar faces crowd the senior division leaderboard of the eighth annual Lupton Memorial Invitational.

Defending champion Brady Exber leads after the first two rounds with a total of 77 Stableford points. Sitting two points behind him is three-time champion Paul Simson, who missed the last two tournaments at The Honors Course because of scheduling conflicts. Chattanooga physician Neil Spitaly is also two points back.

Then Doug Hanzel, who won the mid-amateur division in 2008, is four off the lead heading into the final round today.

But none of them are as recognizable to the casual sports or golf fan as former golf broadcaster Steve Melnyk, who is five points behind Exber.

"I haven't played in a tournament where I've been in contention in a long time," said Melnyk, who is one of eight golfers to win the U.S. and British Amateurs. "What it boils down to is pride. I practice because I know when you tee it up you put your name and reputation on the line. I don't think about winning. I do it for pride."

Andrew Lawson leads the mid-amateur division with a 5-under-par 139 in stroke play. He leads Tyler McKeever by one and former Baylor School golfer Carlton Forrester by two.

The three-way tie for fourth at 144 includes Brad Wilder, defending champion Kris Mikkelsen and Honors Course member Tim Jackson from Germantown, Tenn.

Don Marsh has 78 points in the super-senior division and leads by seven over Ted Smith.

Melnyk is lurking in the senior division despite playing in two competitive tournaments a year -- the Lupton Memorial and the Anderson Memorial 4-Ball at Winged Foot next weekend.

"Being in contention is like when a pitcher hits a home run, then breaks into his home-run trot then realizes he doesn't have one," said Melnyk, now 65 years old. "It's fun to be competitive again. I see that my future is behind me and I have no delusions of grandeur."

Melnyk won the U.S. Amateur at Oakmont in 1969 and the British Amateur in 1971 at Carnoustie. Then he turned professional but broke his elbow in 1982. That essentially ended his pro career but led to his broadcasting career. He worked for CBS and then ABC for more than 25 years.

"I didn't play any competitive golf for years because I was busy broadcasting, had a private business and technically didn't have my amateur status back," Melnyk said. "To borrow a line, I play good courses with good friends."

The Honors and Winged Foot fit the bill.

"The golf course lays on the land beautifully," Melnyk said. "I think it is Pete Dye's best work by far."

For Melnyk, this weekend includes a great deal of time with his 31-year-old son Dalton, who is tied for 29th in the mid-amateur division.

"I got back to playing to do stuff with my friends and my boys," said Melnyk, who works in investment banking. "But it is different when you have a pencil and your name to a score."