BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a battle of U.S. Mid-Amateur champions, Kevin Marsh, 40, of Henderson, Nev., defeated Nathan Smith, 35, of Pittsburgh, 2 and 1, in the second round of match play Tuesday at the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, held at the par-71, 7,173-yard Country Club of Birmingham’s West Course.
Marsh, the 2005 Mid-Amateur titlist, won two consecutive holes with a conceded birdie on the par-5 15th and an up-and-down par from right of the cart path on No. 16 to take a 2-up lead. His two-putt par from 16 feet on the following hole closed out the victory.
“He’s going to be a tough out for somebody in the next round,” said Smith, the defending champion and a four-time winner of this event. “It’s one of those matches where I don’t really regret anything. After the first two holes, he just started playing great.”
The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship continued with the Round of 16 beginning at 12:15 p.m. CDT on Tuesday. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be played on Wednesday. The championship is scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Thursday, Oct. 10, starting at 7 a.m. CDT.
“I played well at the right times,” said Marsh, who advanced to the Round of 16 for the fourth time in 10 Mid-Amateur appearances. “I got off to a horrible start and that probably helped me play more aggressively.”
Marsh and Smith, who faced each other in match play for the first time despite their long history in this championship, went back and forth through the opening 13 holes. Smith squared the match on the par-4 14th when he was conceded a 15-foot birdie putt after his opponent found the hazard with his approach shot.
After Marsh won the next hole with a birdie, Smith, a member of last month’s winning USA Walker Cup Team, found the front left greenside bunker at the 491-yard, par-4 16th. Marsh pushed his second shot from the fairway to the right of the green, but recovered nicely by lofting a 60-degree wedge to within four inches to win the hole with a par. Marsh, the fourth seed, split the fairway with his tee shot on No. 17 to set up his clinching two-putt par and the win.
Kenny Cook, the second seed, and Tim Jackson, the fifth seed, each lost close matches in the second round. Brad Valois, 26, of Warwick, R.I., defeated Cook, 33, of Noblesville, Ind., in 19 holes, while Keith Humerickhouse, 37, of Eagle, Colo., edged Jackson, 54, of Germantown, Tenn., 1 up.
Humerickhouse, who is playing in his second Mid-Amateur, lost a 1-up lead when he bogeyed No. 16 with a three-putt. After hooking his tee shot on No. 17, the left-hander drew a 4-iron through a gap in the trees to the front of the green to win the hole with a par. He finished with another par, but had to escape a left fairway bunker. He landed a 145-yard, 9-iron onto the green and two-putted for the upset win.
“To beat him, it’s pretty special for sure,” said Humerickhouse about Jackson, the 1994 and 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. He’s so steady. I knew he was going to hit fairways all day long.”
Cook, the 2011 Mid-Amateur runner-up, rallied from 3-down late in his match by winning Nos. 15 and 16 with pars and making a birdie at the par-4 17th. But Valois birdied the first extra hole, the 368-yard, par-4 first, to hold off the comeback attempt.
Bill Williamson, the third seed, advanced to the third round after Tim Hogarth, 47, of Northridge, Calif., conceded the match on the fourth tee due to illness. Williamson, 36, of Cincinnati, Ohio, had won the first three holes. He birdied No. 2 by striking a 6-iron to within 20 feet and followed with another birdie at No. 3 when he hit a sand wedge to tap-in range.
“[I am] trying to treat it as a positive,” said Williamson about winning by concession. “I won’t be as tired. I won’t have walked as much or swung the golf club as much.”
Davis Boland, 42, of Louisville, Ky., followed one of the best days of his golfing career with a second-round loss to Bradley Bastion, 28, of Clinton Township, Mich., 4 and 2. Boland, who survived a 12-for-8 playoff to make the match-play bracket, knocked off stroke-play medalist Matthew Mattare in the first round. But he trailed early in his match with Bastion and couldn’t recover.
“It wasn’t pretty golf today,” said Boland, who became the first player to defeat a medalist in the first round since 2007. “Golf has always been my fun thing to do. This gave me a feel that I can compete on a higher level.”
Brian DePasquale is the USGA’s manager of championship communications. E-mail him at email@example.com.