Randal Lewis of Alma, Mich., will take a 2-up lead into the lunch break of the 36-hole final match at the 2011 U.S. Mid Amateur being held at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas. Lewis won the par-5 18th hole when Kenny Cook's second shot found the water hazard and his fourth shot also found the water. Lewis was on the green in two and was given his par 5.
Lewis finished the first 18 at 1-under-par 71, with the usual concessions for match play. His only hiccup came at the par-5 ninth hole when his second shot landed in a fairway bunker and his third bounced into a front-greenside bunker. Facing a downhill shot to a flagstick tucked in the front of the green, his fourth shot sailed over the green into the fringe. He managed to lag the par putt from 90 feet to a few feet, but Cook two-putted for the win to cut his deficit to 1 down.
Cook, a 31-year-old accountant from Noblesville, Ind., wound up with a 2-over-par 74. He seemed to get things going with back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14 to square the match. He drove the 253-yard, par-4 13th hole with a 3-wood and two-putted for birdie. He also flopped a wedge at 14 to 4 feet for another birdie.
But he three-putted 16, his second of the inward nine, to fall 1 down and then made a mess of the par-5 18th hole.
Cook also hit his second shot into the water hazard on the par-5 first hole. Lewis' approach stopped 15 feet from the flagstick and he converted the birdie putt to go 1 up.
Lewis also took the second hole when Cook tried to drive the green with a 3-wood. He dumped his second shot into a greenside bunker and made a bogey-5 to Lewis' routine 4.
At 54, Lewis, a financial advisor, is trying to become the oldest champion in Mid-Amateur history, surpassing George Zahringer, who was 49 when he won in 2002 at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn.
Lewis lost in the championshp match 15 years ago at Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford, Conn., to another Indiana native, John "Spider" Miller. He also advanced to the semifinals of the 1999 Mid-Amateur at Old Warson Country Club in St. Louis. Lewis was named the Golf Association of Michigan's Player of the Decade for the 1990s and was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2009. He won the 2002 Michigan State Amateur at Oakland Hills C.C., site of the 1996 U.S. Open and 2002 U.S. Amateur.
Many thanks to Mid-Amateur Championship Committeeman Jack Pultorak of the Florida State Golf Association for providing tidbits from the morning 18. Pultorak served as the referee for the morning 18. Those duties will now go to Lee Cassady of Savannah, Ga., for the afternoon 18. Pultorak is serving as the forward observer.
I was also told that the par-3 seventh hole will play 146 yards for the afternoon round. USGA officials Bill McCarthy and Allison Jarrett have been moving around tee markers for the match-play portion of the championship, creating different strategies and options for the competitors.