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Southwest Georgia golfer Clanton struggles with 8-over in opening round of U.S. Senior Amateur Championship

Leesburg's Bill Clanton earned his spot into the prestigious U.S. Senior Amateur Championship by qualifying at Doublegate Country Club earlier this month,

Leesburg's Bill Clanton earned his spot into the prestigious U.S. Senior Amateur Championship by qualifying at Doublegate Country Club earlier this month,

WEST CALDWELL, N.J. — Regardless of how he finishes his first appearance at the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, just by making it this far, Leesburg’s Bill Clanton has already won.

Clanton, who suffered a stroke five years ago but recovered and has been playing amazing golf since, qualified for the tournament earlier this month at Doublegate Country Club. But he shot an 8-over in the first round Saturday on Mountain Ridge Country Club course in New Jersey as Clanton carded just one birdie in the first round and sits 13 shots off the lead and in 123rd place overall out of 156 golfers.

The tournament format is stroke-play for the first two rounds, then it moves to a match-play format starting Monday. Clanton will need to go low in his second round today to have a chance at making the cut and sticking around.

Clanton, a zero-handicap, beat out a field of 50 players from around the southeast for the coveted final spot in the U.S. Senior Amateur earlier this month when he parred the second playoff hole on No. 18 to snag the coveted qualifying spot.

Stan Kinsey shot a 5-under 66 on Saturday to take the first-round lead.

The 58-year-old Kinsey, from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., had six birdies and one bogey on the Mountain Ridge Country Club course. The top 64 after the second round today will advance to match play.

Paul Simson of Raleigh, N.C., and Jim Holtgrieve of St. Louis shot 68. Simson won the 2010 tournament.