Rank On Cruise Control At Mid-Amateur

Youngest player easily takes two matches; Smith wins Western Pa. battle to reach quarterfinals


Garrett Rank played just 27 holes in winning two matches at the U.S. Mid-Amateur on Tuesday at Conway Farms. (Chris Keane/USGA)
By Christina Lance, USGA
September 11, 2012

Lake Forest, Ill. – Garrett Rank of Canada put on a veritable golf clinic on Tuesday, needing only 27 of a possible 36 holes in two matches to advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinal round of match play at the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, being conducted at the par-71, 7,078-yard Conway Farms Golf Club.

In Tuesday morning’s round of 32, Rank played eight under par for 12 holes, with the usual match-play concessions, in an 8-and-6 victory over Scott Harvey, of Greensboro, N.C. His round-of-16 match was equally emphatic, as he eliminated Matt Cohn of San Francisco, 5 and 3.

The 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, for players ages 25 and older, consists of 36 holes of stroke play. The low 64 scorers advanced to match play, which features six rounds, including a 36-hole final scheduled for Thursday, beginning at 7 a.m. CDT.

The U.S. Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Rank, a cancer survivor who turned 25 just three days prior to the start of the championship, was hardly affected by the 20-plus-mph winds that buffeted the Tom Fazio-designed course.

“I just had it [today],” said Rank, a member of Golf Canada’s national team. “It's just one of those days.”

Rank certainly did have it, particularly in the morning match with Harvey. The 8-and-6 margin of victory is tied for the fourth-largest in championship history.

Harvey had an opportunity to cut into his deficit when his approach to the par-4 seventh came up one foot short of the hole. Rank conceded the short birdie putt and promptly chipped in for eagle from just off the back of the green, putting a stop to Harvey’s momentum.

“That was a huge boost because he hit a good shot in there,” said Rank, a 2012 graduate of the University of Waterloo in Ontario. “To come up with the win on the hole was big.”

The afternoon match with Cohn turned into another easy victory for Rank, who won the opening hole with a par and never trailed.

“I got off to a good start on the front nine,” said Rank, who is vying to become the youngest Mid-Amateur champion and the first foreign-born victor. “I hit some really good shots and played with the momentum that I gained this morning. I just had a big enough lead that I could coast it in.”

Rank, who hopes to turn professional in the next year or so, calls himself a “late bloomer” and says that he is not quite ready for the pro circuit. Delaying that decision also allows him to indulge in his other passion – hockey. Rank works as a referee in the Ontario Hockey League.

“I'd much rather be playing golf – it's easier on the body,” said Rank. “But reffing pays the bills and it's a lot of fun.”

Rank’s quarterfinal opponent will be Matthew Mattare, 26, of New York, who advanced with a 1-up morning victory over Joseph Benedetti and a 2-and-1 afternoon win over Stephen Cox. The Rank/Mattare match will be a meeting of the two youngest players remaining in the championship.

In a battle of Western Pennsylvania stalwarts, three-time Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith, 34, of Pittsburgh needed 19 holes to advance over his good friend Sean Knapp, 50, of Oakmont.

Knapp held a 1-up lead for most of the second nine, but a bogey at the par-3 17th squared the match and gave Smith the opening he needed. A pair of Knapp miscues at the 19th – his second and third shots clipped trees – handed Smith a difficult victory.

“That was an ESPN Classic match,” said Smith, who is seeking to become the first four-time Mid-Amateur champion. “Sean's been playing well all summer and he's really the best player in our state. It's tough playing a great friend like that, especially when I know how much he puts into the game.”

Two-time Mid-Amateur Tim Jackson (1994, 2001) survived a 19-hole scare from John McClure in the morning’s round of 32. To his amazement, that victory, which saw Jackson come back from a 3-down deficit, set him up well for the afternoon.

“I was kind of surprised I played as good,” said Jackson, 53, the low amateur at the 2009-11 U.S. Senior Opens. “I guess being tired kind of slowed me down a bit, calmed me down some.”

Jackson had an easier time in his round-of-16 meeting with South Carolina’s John Patterson, playing to the equivalent of two under par en route to a 4-and-2 victory. He will meet Dennis Bull, 30, of Norwalk, Iowa, in the quarterfinals. Bull, competing in his first USGA championship, advanced with a 2-up victory over Rhode Island’s Charlie Blanchard, who had defeated medalist Brad Valois in the morning round, 2 up.

Two professional caddies advanced to Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Corby Segal, who carries the bag for PGA Tour player Briny Baird, registered a 1-up win over Walter Todd in the round of 32 and a 2-up defeat of Uly Grisette in the round of 16. Casey Boyns, who loops at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, outlasted fellow Californian Brian Tennyson in 20 holes in the morning and earned a 1-up victory over Michael Muehr in the afternoon round.

Boyns, at 56 the oldest player remaining in the field, will face Todd White, 44, of Spartanburg, S.C., in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. White mounted a comeback from 3-down against Indiana’s Kevin Wassmer to post a 1-up victory. Segal, who beat Walter Todd in the round of 32, faces Smith.

All of the quarterfinalists are exempt into the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur at the Country Club of Birmingham.

Christina Lance is a coordinator of championship communications for the USGA. Email her at clance@usga.org.

Results

Lake Forest, Ill. – Results from Tuesday’s second round of match play at the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, played at the 7,078-yard, par-71 Conway Farms Golf Club:

Upper Bracket

Charlie Blanchard, North Providence, R.I. (147) def. Brad Valois, Warwick, R.I. (141), 2 up
Dennis Bull, Norwalk, Iowa (149) def. Trevor Sauntry, Houston, Texas (146), 3 and 1
Tim Jackson, Germantown, Tenn. (147) def. John McClure, Los Angeles, Calif. (149), 19 holes
John Patterson, Bluffton, S.C. (144) def. Ryan Patrick, Vienna, Va. (148), 5 and 4
Corby Segal, Santa Clarita, Calif. (147) def. Walter Todd, Laurens, S.C., 1 up
Uly Grisette, Winston Salem, N.C. (145) def. Todd Burgan, Knoxville, Tenn. (148), 5 and 4
Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (147) def. Jeff Murphy, Pleasant Hill, Calif. (149), 5 and 4
Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa. (145) def. Sammy Schmitz, Farmington, Minn. (146), 1 up

Lower Bracket

Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C. (142) def. Mason Casper, Springville, Utah (147), 4 and 3
Kevin Wassmer, Poseyville, Ind. (146) def. Richard Berkmeyer, St. Louis, Mo. (145), 1 up
Casey Boyns, Monterey, Calif. (149) def. Brian Tennyson, Fullerton, Calif. (148), 20 holes
Michael Muehr, Potomac Falls, Va. (149) def. Kevin Marsh, Henderson, Nev. (148), 3 and 2
Matthew Mattare, New York, N.Y. (143) def. Joseph Benedetti, Huntington Beach, Calif. (147), 1 up
Stephen Cox, Jonesboro, Ark. (149) def. Joe April, Philadelphia, Pa. (145), 3 and 2
Garrett Rank, Canada (144) def. Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. (148), 8 and 6
Matt Cohn, San Francisco, Calif. (149) def. Nathan Colson, Milwaukee, Wis. (146), 3 and 1

Lake Forest, Ill. – Results from Tuesday’s third round of match play at the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, played at the 7,078-yard, par-71 Conway Farms Golf Club:

Upper Bracket

Dennis Bull, Norwalk, Iowa (149) def. Charlie Blanchard, North Providence, R.I. (147), 2 up
Tim Jackson, Germantown, Tenn. (147) def. John Patterson, Bluffton, S.C. (144), 4 and 2
Corby Segal, Santa Clarita, Calif. (147) def. Uly Grisette, Winston Salem, N.C. (145), 2 up
Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (147) def. Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa. (145), 19 holes

Lower Bracket

Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C. (142) def. Kevin Wassmer, Poseyville, Ind. (146), 1 up
Casey Boyns, Monterey, Calif. (149) def. Michael Muehr, Potomac Falls, Va. (149), 1 up
Matthew Mattare, New York, N.Y. (143) def. Stephen Cox, Jonesboro, Ark. (149), 2 and 1
Garrett Rank, Canada (144) def. Matt Cohn, San Francisco, Calif. (149), 5 and 3

Lake Forest, Ill. – Pairings for Wednesday morning’s quarterfinal round of match play at the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, played at the 7,078-yard, par-71 Conway Farms Golf Club (all times CDT):

Upper Bracket

7 a.m.: Dennis Bull, Norwalk, Iowa (149) vs. Tim Jackson, Germantown, Tenn. (147)
7:15 a.m.: Corby Segal, Santa Clarita, Calif. (147) vs. Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (147)

Lower Bracket

7:30 a.m.: Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C. (142) vs. Casey Boyns, Monterey, Calif. (149)
7:45 a.m.: Matthew Mattare, New York, N.Y. (143) Garrett Rank, Canada (144)

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