OPEN Opportunity


Even before amateur Kemp Richardson qualified for this week's U.S. Senior Open, he wasn't just another top-flight local player. After all, he once beat . . . Tiger Woods?

"Yeah, that's right," the 53-year-old from Laguna Niguel said with a laugh. "But it was no big deal, really. Just a little father-son tournament and Tiger was what, 14?"

OK, so it was only a local father-son tournament at the California Country Club in Whittier, but Richardson and his son, Scott, did top Tiger and his father Earl.

And top-notch golf is commonplace in this family too.

Scott, 24, was a standout golfer at Dana Hills High and went on to be the Orange Empire Conference player of the year at Saddleback College in 1993. He also played at Minnesota and USC and now works at a local golf shop.

John Richardson, Kemp's father, played golf at USC before winning the Southern California Golf Assn. Amateur title in 1973. John also won the 1987 U.S. Senior Amateur. He died in 1988.

Kemp attended USC, where he was a two-time Pacific-8 Conference champion in 1967 and '68 and a first-team All-American.

And this week in West Des Moines, Iowa, Kemp Richardson is looking forward to reuniting with some former competitors.

Senior PGA Tour player John Jacobs defeated Richardson on the third playoff hole of the 1966 SCGA Amateur.

"I've seen Johnny since then," Kemp said, "but I haven't played with him."

Kemp said he might also bump into former college foes Hubert Green (Florida State, '68) or Johnny Miller (Brigham Young '69), who works for NBC, which is broadcasting the tournament.

Richardson said he isn't envious of his touring contemporaries, and said he has no regrets about not pursuing a pro career despite proving himself in college.

"A lot of people have asked me why I never tried to make it on the tour," said Kemp, who is a stockbroker. "But I didn't want to go on the planes, stay in the hotels. And I like what I do.

"I guess I'm more of a homebody. Sure, I do like the competitive side of golf. But really, three to four days a week at the club is enough for me."

Kemp also liked the fact that staying at home meant spending more time with Scott, his daughter Lauren, now 19, and his wife Marsha. They have been married 28 years.

"My mom thought it was a miracle that he qualified for the Open," Scott said. "He'd been playing a lot, with the California State Amateur, and that's tough on his back."

Kemp's chronic back problems forced him to quit the game for two years, but his recent results show his strong recovery.

Although Kemp qualified for match play in the State Amateur, he was eliminated in the first round by 17-year-old Tom Johnson of Fair Oaks, 6 and 4.

"I think the hay fever got him," Scott said. "My mom was telling me he couldn't even see. But my dad won't tell you that."

Kemp's simple explanation for the early exit?

"I just played like a dog," he said.

Said Scott: "He doesn't make excuses, and I guess that's how it should be."

People in the local golf community have taken notice of Richardson's run.

When Scott went to visit Aviara golf professional Kip Puterbaugh for some tips, the Carlsbad pro asked Scott for a favor.

"He joked with me, 'Can you try and get your dad not to play in the U.S. [Senior] Open?' " Scott Richardson said.

Puterbaugh was the first alternate from the La Jolla qualifier.

Richardson shot 72 at La Jolla Country Club to qualify for the tournament, which begins Thursday at the Des Moines Country Club.

"I've been playing pretty well lately," Kemp said. "In the qualifying round, I was pretty up and down. I had six birdies, six bogeys and six pars, but that was good enough."

Good enough to send him to Iowa, where he and Marsha hope to stay through Sunday.

"I'm excited about this week," Kemp said. "I've never been in a U.S. Open before and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully, I can make the cut."

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