Snohomish golfer set to compete in U.S. Senior Amateur

Kelly Denessen only recently got back into the swing of tournament golf. Now he’s headed to the national stage.

Denessen, who lives in Snohomish, heads to Minneapolis this weekend to take part in the U.S. Senior Amateur golf tournament, which begins Saturday at The Minikahda Club.

“This is very exciting,” Denessen said. “I’ve had some sleepless nights thinking about it.”

The 57-year-old Denessen, who plays out of Mill Creek Country Club, spent years away from being a regular on either the Washington State Golf Association or the Pacific Northwest Golf Association circuits, devoting his time to his family instead of golf.

But with all his offspring now out of the house Denessen decided to return to tournament golf, and he returned with a splash. He played in his first qualifying event for the U.S. Senior Amateur on July 24 at Seattle Golf Club and shot a 2-over par 74 to tie for medalist honors with Gig Harbor’s Jim McNelis. The top three qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur.

“I played solid,” Denessen said. “The biggest thing is I didn’t three-putt all day and I made my 4- and 5-footers for par, where most of the players were three-putting a lot of the day.”

Denessen, who was roommates with former PGA Tour star Paul Azinger when the two played at Brevard Community College in Florida in the late 1970s, advanced to the U.S. Senior Amateur, which runs from Saturday through Aug. 31 at The Minikahda Club. The tournament begins with two rounds of stroke play, which will whittle the field down to 64. From there the tournament heads to match play beginning Monday.

“My biggest goal is just to qualify, to get past two rounds of stroke play,” Denessen said. “If I can get into match play, then I’ll have reached my goal. There are no expectations after that.”

Denessen leaves Wednesday for Minneapolis. He will play practice rounds at The Minikahda Club on Thursday and Friday to prepare for Saturday’s opening round.

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