LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The three former champions in the match play field moved on to the second round Monday in the 32nd U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club.
Tim Jackson of Germantown, Tenn. (1994 and 2001 champ), Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh (2003, ‘09, ‘10), and Kevin Marsh of Henderson, Nev. (2005) survived hard-fought, opening-round matches.
Jackson, 53, scored a 2-and-1 victory over Patrick Christovich of New Orleans; Smith, 34, slipped past veteran Paul Simson of Raleigh, N.C., 2 and 1; and Marsh, 39, notched a 1-up decision over Dan Horner of Sandy, Utah.
The Marsh-Horner match went back and forth all day and the two were all square standing on the tee of the 568-yard, par-5 18th hole.
Marsh reached the green in two with driver and a three-wood, and then two-putted, sinking a five-footer for birdie to close it out.
“It was one of the worst putting days I’ve ever had,” said Marsh. “About the only putt I made was the last one on the 18th hole. But it came at the right time, I guess.”
Jackson was 1 down after 10 holes, but won 11 with a par, 12 with birdie and 13 with par to go 2 up. Christovich won 14 with a par, but Jackson won 16 with a birdie and the two halved 17 to end it.
“I was just scratching all day. It was a real battle,” said Jackson. “Neither of us played all that well. I think the difference in the match was the back nine. I hit fairways and he didn’t. But I’m really excited to be moving on. At my age, this is like a big bonus.”
Smith won holes two and three with birdies to quickly go 2 up on the 61-year-old Simson, the 2010 U.S. Senior Amateur champion who has played in close to 50 USGA Championships. He went 3 up with a par at No. 8. Simson won the 13th with a birdie, but after the two halved the next four holes the match was over.
“It was one of the best matches I’ve ever played,” said Smith, a member of the last two U.S. Walker Cup teams. “He played great and it was tough out there. I knew playing with him over the years I was in for a battle and knew I had to bring my “A” game to the first tee. He’s as good a player as you will find anywhere.”
Said Simson, “It was a great match. We both played very well. There are matches when you lose and can kick yourself because you didn’t play well. But this time, I lost and I don’t feel terrible. I played well, and he just beat me.”
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SAYONARA, SENIORS: In addition to Simson, the other two senior amateurs to make match play fell in the first round.
Chip Lutz, 57, of Reading, Pa., who earlier this year won the British Senior Amateur, the Canadian Senior Amateur and was low amateur at the British Senior Open, was defeated by Trevor Sauntry of Houston, 1 up.
Sauntry was 3-up after five holes and held that margin after 13 holes. But Lutz battled back and won 14 with a par and 15 with a birdie. But the two halved the final three holes to put Lutz out.
Doug Hanzel, 55, of Savannah, Ga., and low amateur at this year’s U.S. Senior Open, was turned back, 2 and 1, by Ryan Patrick of Vienna, Va. Hanzel, who lost to eventual champion Steven Fox in the second round at this year’s U.S. Amateur, was just 1-down after 10 holes. A birdie at 14 put Patrick 2 up and that lead stood as both halved the next three holes.
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HE’S COASTING: No. 2 seed Todd White, 44, of Spartanburg, S.C., had an easy time of things as he rolled to a 6-and-5 win over Jon Lindstrom of Broomfield, Colo. White was 4 up after eight holes, won No. 11 with a birdie and closed it out with a birdie at No. 13.
“I’m playing well right now,” said White, a high school history teacher in Hilton Head Island, S.C. “My approach to match play is I play every hole as if it was a separate individual tournament. Once a hole is finished I put it behind me and move on.
“This (Conway Farms) is great for match play,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better venue with a great blend of holes. There are some birdie holes out there and some holes where par is a good score.”
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EXTRA EFFORT: In the longest match of the opening round, Casey Boyns of Monterey, Calif., and a caddy at Pebble Beach Golf Links for some 30 years, edged Tim Hogarth of Norhridge, Calif., and a former U.S. Amateur Public Links champ, in 23 holes.
Hogarth was 2-down with two to play but won Nos. 17 and 18. Boyns finally ended the marathon with a par on the 23rd hole, the par-4 fifth.
Another lengthy match saw Jeff Murphy of Pleasant Hill, Calif., defeated Edward Richardson of England in 22 holes.
Murphy was 4 up through nine holes, but Richardson clawed his was back to square things at the end of regulation. Murphy ended it when he made birdie at the par-4 fourth extra hole.
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AGE IS NOTHING BUT A NUMBER: The youngest player in the starting field of 264 was Garret Rank, who turned 25 on Sept. 5, three days before the start of the championship. The oldest player was 61-year-old Paul Simson, who was exempt from qualifying via his 2010 U.S. Senior Amateur victory. The oldest qualifier was Allan Small, 60, who turned 61 on Sept. 10, the first day of match play, which he did not qualify for.
The average age of the starting field was 37.67 and of the 264 players, 94 were reinstated amateurs.
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WHERE DID THEY COME FROM? There were five countries represented at this year’s Mid-Amateur: Joining the United States were Australia, Bermuda, Canada and England. In additions, 43 states were represented.
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HOME COOKIN’: There were two Conway Farms Golf Club members in the starting field: Scott Rowe, 37, of Hinsdale, Ill., and a former All-American at Northwestern, and Andrew Price, 30, of Lake Forest, Ill. Neither qualified for the 64-player match play bracket.
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BACK FOR MORE: Three of the players in this year’s starting field competed at Conway Farms Golf Club at the 1998 U.S. Junior Amateur: Luke Bakke, 31, of Little Rock, Ark., Garren Poirier, 32, of Killington, Vt., and Michael Sims, 31, of West Columbia, S.C. Sims lost in the first round to future USGA Amateur Public Links champion and 2001 Walker Cup team member D.J. Trahan, while Bakke and Poirier failed to qualify for match play. Neither of the three made it to match play at this week’s Mid-Amateur.
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ROUND OF 64
Brad Valois def. Kevin Wolf, 2 and 1
Charlie Blanchard def. Dan Crockett, 19 holes
Dennis Bull def. Tom Hart, 19 holes
Trevor Sauntry def. Chip Lutz, 1 up
John McClure def. Jeff Wilson, 6 and 5
Tim Jackson def. Patrick Christovich, 2 and 1
John Patterson def. Robert Stelben Jr., 1 up
Ryan Patrick def. Douglas Hanzel, 2 and 1
Walter Todd def. John Engler, 1 up
Corby Segal def. Danny Simmerman, 1 up
Uly Grisette def. Michael Mulieri, 19 holes
Todd Burgan def. Nikhil Desai, 2 and 1
Jeff Murphy def. Edward Richardson, 22 holes
Nathan Smith def. Paul Simson, 2 and 1
Sean Knapp def. Tom Werkmeister, 2 up
Sammy Schmitz def. Andrew Chapman, 7 and 6
Todd White def. Jon Lindstrom, 6 and 5
Mason Casper def. Jason Higton, 3 and 2
Richard Berkmeyer def. Brian Komline, 3 and 2
Kevin Wassmer def. Erik Hanson, 2 up
Casey Boyns def. Tim Hogarth, 23 holes
Brian Tennyson def. Scot Hval, 2 and 1
Michael Muehr def. John Ehrgott, 2 and 1
Kevin Marsh def. Dan Horner, 1 up
Matthew Mattare def. Daniel Day, 4 and 2
Joseph Benedetti def. Doug Clapp, 3 and 1
Joe April def. Kenny Cook, 1 up
Stephen Cox def. Matthew Rosen, 2 and 1
Garrett Rank def. Eric Williams, 4 and 3
Scott Harvey def. Stephen Anderson, 4 and 2
Matt Cohn def. Adam Walicki, 1 up
Nathan Colson def. Bobby Brent III, 6 and 5