U.S. MID-AMATEUR
Posts record 13 consecutive victory in championship September 18, 2011 By David Shefter, USGA

Two-time defending champion Nathan Smith won a record 13th consecutive match at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)

Richmond, Texas – Two-time defending champion Nathan Smith, 33, of Pittsburgh, Pa., continued his quest for an unprecedented fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur title on Monday at Shadow Hawk Golf Club, and in the process established a championship record for consecutive wins.

Smith, a two-time USA Walker Cup Team member (2009 and 2011), registered six consecutive pars to start the inward nine of the 7,170-yard, par-72 layout in posting a hard-fought 3-and-2 win over Scott Weeks of Savannah, Ga.

Due to the stroke-play portion of the competition spilling over into Monday, only 22 of the 32 scheduled first-round matches were completed before play was suspended for the day because of darkness. The first round will resume on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. CDT. Second-round matches are also scheduled to begin at that time.

Stroke-play medalist Michael McCaffrey, 41, of League City, Texas, survived a 20-hole match against No. 64 qualifier Chad Bolt, 35, of Bellafontaine, Ohio. Bolt was the last man standing from a four-hole, 20-for-3 playoff on Monday at The Houstonian Golf & Country Club, the companion stroke-play qualifying course, for the last spots in the 64-player match-play draw.

McCaffrey completed stroke play Monday morning at 8-under 136. The two were all square through 19 holes when play was suspended for darkness. At the 20th hole, McCaffrey's birdie was conceded.

Smith also had to finish stroke play on Monday, playing nine holes at The Houstonian before moving over to Shadow Hawk to begin his quest for a third consecutive title. His 13 consecutive match-play wins in this event broke a deadlock with Jim Stuart, who won the Mid-Amateur in 1990 and 1991 before losing his first-round match in the 1992 event at Detroit (Mich.) Golf Club.

Smith, who also won this title in 2003, has not lost a Mid-Amateur match since the first round in 2008 to Todd Mitchell.

The last male to win three USGA titles in a row was Tiger Woods, who claimed the U.S. Amateur from 1994-96 and the U.S. Junior Amateur from 1991-93. Carol Semple Thompson is the last female to win three in a row, having captured the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur from 1999-2002.

The quest continues, said a humble Smith. It’s amazing. Every year, every match, it just seems to get harder and harder. All I can do is keep playing well.

When asked about his match-play success, Smith didn’t have a definitive answer.

I wish I could give you something, said Smith, who went 0-2-1 at the Walker Cup Match that concluded eight days ago at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland. The USA dropped a 14-12 decision to Great Britain and Ireland. Everybody has been asking me that the last couple of years. I’ve been lucky. I’ve just had some good fortune.

Also posting a first-round win on Monday was second-seeded John Engler, 32, of Augusta, Ga., who defeated Scott Hovis of Jefferson City, Mo., 3 and 2. Engler finished three strokes behind McCaffrey in qualifying, shooting 5-under 139.

Third seed Kevin Pomarleau of East Wenatchee, Wash., however, lost to playoff survivor Tony Behrstock of Los Angeles, 1 down. Behrstock won holes 17 and 18 to win the match. It's the first time Behrstock has made match play in four USGA championship appearances.

Past champion Kevin Marsh (2005) of Henderson, Nev., also was eliminated, falling to Paul Tucker of Waxhaw, N.C., 2 down.

The best comeback of the day belonged to 41-year-old Chris Congdon of Foxboro, Mass., who rallied from 5 down with 10 to play to beat Andres Gaviria of Coral Gables, Fla., 1 up. Congdon, a former teaching pro at Foxboro Country Club, birdied holes nine and 10 to get back into the match, but lost No. 12 when mud on his ball sent his wedge approach well left of the green.

Then Gaviria started struggling off the tee and Congdon found himself winning holes with pars. He squared the match with a par at the 169-yard, par-3 17th hole and then won it with a conceded birdie on the par-5 closing hole when Gaviria’s tee shot found a hazard.

Fortunately, he hit a couple of errant tee shots, said Congdon, who played in the 1991 and 1992 U.S. Amateurs but missed the match-play cut. I started hitting the greens and he started missing the greens. I’ll take it. I gave him plenty on the front [nine].

I’m exhausted right now. I had to play nine holes this morning [to complete stroke-play qualifying] and then sat around for awhile. And then I had to go all 18. I’m ready for a shower and a little relaxation right now.

Paul Simson, 60, of Raleigh, N.C., was in a similar mood after the fourth seed’s 5-and-4 win over Michael Standard of McDonough, Ga. Simson came to Shadow Hawk after reaching the quarterfinals of last week’s USGA Senior Amateur, where he was defending his title. He was under par in every round, including the quarterfinal defeat to Philip Pleat, and then shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday at The Houstonian Golf & Country Club, the companion stroke-play qualifying course for the Mid-Amateur. He followed up with a 1-over 73 in Sunday’s second round.

I’m pretty comfortable with the course, said Simson, who had a chip-in birdie on No. 11 from 30 feet in a stretch of five consecutive winning holes from the ninth that put the match away.

It’s really nice to be able to get back, kick my feet up and get a shower because I’ll be weary [on Tuesday] afternoon if I’m fortunate enough to win in the morning. I wish everybody a 27-hole [second-round] match.

The second and third rounds of match play are scheduled for Tuesday. The quarterfinal and semifinal matches will be played Wednesday, and the 36-hole championship final will be played Thursday.

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

David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. E-mail him at dshefter@usga.org. 

Richmond, Texas – Results from Monday’s first round of match play at the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur being conducted at 7,170-yard, par-72 Shadow Hawk Golf Club. (Note: Ten of the 32 first-round matches were not completed when darkness suspended play. Matches will resume at 7:30 a.m. CDT on Tuesday) 

Round of 64
Upper Bracket
 

Mike McCaffrey, League City, Texas  (136) def. Chad Bolt, Bellafontaine, Ohio (149), 20 holes
Chris Congdon, Foxboro, Mass. (146) def. Andres Gaviria, Coral Gables, Fla. (146), 1 up.
Anthony Barrera, San Jose, Calif. (147) def. Serge Hogg, Baltimore, Md. (144), 3 and 2.
John Moheyer, Baltimore, Md. (147) def. Jimmy Chang, San Marino, Calif. (144), 2 and 1
James Scorse, Rochester, N.Y. (148) def. Clarke Kincaid, Trophy Club, Texas (142), 3 and 2
Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. (145) def. Gene Elliott, West Des Moines, Iowa (147), 4 and 3
Randal Lewis, Alma, Mich. (148) def. Scott Stevens, Encinitas, Calif. (142), 2 up
Stephen Summers, Dallas, Texas (145) def. Matthew Williams, Albuquerque, N.M. (147), 2 and 1
Paul Simson, Raleigh, N.C. (140) def. Michael Standard, McDonough, Ga. (148), 5 and 4
Jeff Knox, Augusta, Ga. (146) def. Chris Forbes, Katy, Texas (146), 2 and 1
Dan Horner, Sandy, Utah (148) def. Terence Begnel, Tulsa, Okla. (144), 19 holes
Mike Stamberger, Plainfield, N.J. (145) def. Sammy Schmitz, Apple Valley, Minn. (147), 1 up
Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (142) def. Scott Weeks, Savannah, Ga. (148), 3 and 2
Billy Jackson, The Woodlands, Texas (145) def. Jeff Fujimoto, Phoenix, Ariz. (147), 1 up
Nicholas Biesecker, Staunton, Va. (148) def. Gavin Parsons, Garden City, Idaho (143), 2 and 1
Mark Miller, West Covina, Calif. (147) def. Shaun Helmle, Seabrook, Texas (145), 1 up

Lower Bracket 

John Engler, Augusta, Ga. (139) def. Scott Hovis, Jefferson City, Mo. (149), 3 and 2
Rob Couture, Dallas, Texas (146) def. Camron Howell, San Tan Valley, Ariz. (146), 6 and 5
Michael McCoy, West Des Moines, Iowa (147) def. Blake Johnson, Winnetka, Ill. (144), 5 and 4
Robert F. Gerwin III, Cincinnati, Ohio (147) def. Paul Jacobsen, Racine, Wis. (144), 21 holes
Michael Muehr, Potomac Falls, Va. (142) def. Doug Albers, Leawood, Kan. (148), 4 and 3
T.J. Shuart, Coral Springs, Fla. (145) def. David Noll Jr, Dalton, Ga. (147), 1 up
Brett Williams, Circleville, Ohio (143) def. Barry Logar, Fairfield, Calif. (148), 5 and 4
Kris Mikkelsen, Atlanta, Ga. (147) def. Gary Robinson, San Diego, Calif. (145), 1 up
Tony Behrstock, Los Angeles, Calif. (149) def. Kevin Pomarleau, E. Wenatchee, Wash. (140), 1 up
Paul Tucker, Waxhaw, N.C. (146) def. Kevin Marsh, Henderson, Nev. (146), 2 up
Josh Gregory, Dallas, Texas (148) def. Chris Chuck, Roswell, Ga. (144), 2 and 1
Aaron Hickman, Dallas, Texas (147) def. Barry Dyche, Charlotte, N.C. (144) , 4 and 2
Kenny Cook, Noblesville, Ind. (142) def. Michael Castleforte, Springboro, Ohio (148), 3 and 2
Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa. (145) def. Robby McWilliams, Bossier City, La. (147), 2 and 1
Scott Kammann, Baneberry, Tenn. (143) def. Frank Alafoginis, Arlington, Va. (148), 3 and 1
Matthew Smith, Lubbock, Texas (147) def. Jeffrey Osberg, West Chester, Pa. (145), 3 and 2

Richmond, Texas – Pairings and starting times for Tuesday’s second round of match play at the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur being conducted at 7,170-yard, par-72 Shadow Hawk Golf Club. (All times CDT) Note: Third round scheduled to be played Tuesday afternoon. 

Round of 32
Upper Bracket
 

8:30 a.m. – Michael McCaffrey, League City, Texas (138) vs. Chris Congdon, Foxboro, Mass. (146)
7:40 a.m. – Anthony Barrera, San Jose, Calif. (147) vs. John Moheyer, Baltimore, Md. (147)
7:50 a.m. – James Scorse, Rochester, N.Y. (148) vs. Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. (145)
8 a.m. – Randal Lewis, Alma, Mich. (142) vs. Stephen Summers, Dallas, Texas (145)
8:10 a.m. – Paul Simson, Raleigh, N.C. (140) vs. Jeff Knox, Augusta, Ga. (146)
8:20 a.m. – Dan Horner, Sandy, Utah (148) vs. Michael Stamberger, Plainfield, N.J. (145)
8:30 a.m. – Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (142) vs. Billy Jackson, The Woodlands, Texas (145)
8:40 a.m. – Nicholas Biesecker, Staunton, Va. (148) vs. Mark Miller, West Covina, Calif. (147)

Lower Bracket 

8:50 a.m. – John Engler, Augusta, Ga. (139) vs. Rob Couture, Dallas, Texas (146)
9 a.m. – Michael McCoy, West Des Moines, Iowa (147) vs. Robert Gerwin III, Cincinnati, Ohio (147)
9:10 a.m. – Michael Muehr, Potomac Falls, Va. (142) vs. T.J. Shuart, Coral Springs, Fla. (145)
9:20 a.m. – Brett Williams, Circleville, Ohio (143) vs. Kris Mikkelsen, Atlanta, Ga. (147)
9:30 a.m. – Tony Behrstock, Los Angeles, Calif. (149) vs. Paul Tucker, Waxhaw, N.C. (146)
9:40 a.m. – Josh Gregory, Dallas, Texas (148) vs. Aaron Hickman, Dallas, Texas (147)  
9:50 a.m. – Kenny Cook, Noblesville, Ind. (142) vs. Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa. (145)
10 a.m. – Scott Kammann, Baneberry, Tenn. (143) vs. Matthew Smith, Lubbock, Texas (147)