U.S. MID-AMATEUR
Round 1 Live Updates from Stonewall September 10, 2016 | ELVERSON, PA.

At No. 65, Claudio Consul, of Germany, is the highest-ranked player in the field this week according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking. (USGA/Chris Keane)

U.S. Mid-Amateur Home

7:00 p.m. EDT: That's a Wrap on Day 1
Thankfully, the rain and storms stayed away from Stonewall and the first round of the U.S. Mid-Amateur is complete. Brad Wilder, 37, of Fort Wright, Ky., and Scott Harvey, 38, of Greensboro, N.C., share the lead after rounds of 4-under 66 on the North Course. Overall, the North played a little more than two strokes easier than the Old Course (74.70 to 76.77). Eight of the top nine scores today came on the North, so a storyline for tomorrow will be how those competitors handle the more difficult Old Course. Second-round play begins at 7:15 a.m. EDT as players vie to make the cut and be among the 64 who advance to match play.  

5:40 p.m. EDT: Wilder Takes Route 66 for Early Clubhouse Lead
Brad Wilder enjoyed a run to the semifinals last year at John's Island Club in Vero Beach, Fla., the deepest run the former University of Cincinnati golfer had made in a USGA championship. Wilder discussed what he learned from the 2015 championship after his first-round 66 on Saturday at Stonewall's North Course, a round that gave him the clubhouse lead.

“I think my first couple USGA events I over-practiced, and I’d wake up the first morning of the tournament and be tired already. So I learned that if it’s going to be a long week, like it was for me last year, that you have to be smart. We’re all old guys now, we know what we’re doing, your golf swing is your golf swing, and it’s more fine-tuning around the edges. So I’ve tried to focus more on short-game practice as opposed to long-game practice. I’ve been doing a lot more of that this year and just trying to get a sense of the golf courses. I used to hit a million shots in practice rounds, and I just kind of realized that we’ll hit the proper shot when we play the tournament. I guess it’s just growing up a little bit.”

5:10 p.m. EDT: Feeding Off Each Other
Craig Mason, of Ashburn, Va., and Thomas Werkmeister, of Grandville, Mich., have to be enjoying each other's company on the Old Course on Saturday afternoon. The two are a combined 7 under par through 13 holes on a course that is playing two strokes higher than the North Course, which is serving as the companion stroke-play venue for the championship. Werkmeister, who is making his eighth appearance in the U.S. Mid-Amateur, was a semifinalist two years ago at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa., about an hour north of Stonewall. The 48-year-old also was the youngest to be inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame three years ago.

Mason, 35, is making his first start in a USGA championship. A graduate of George Mason University, Mason was recently named to the Colonial Athletic Conference's 25th Anniversary Golf Team. He is the school record holder for career stroke average at 73.14 and was a four-time All-CAA selection, including twice to the first team. 

3:35 p.m. EDT: Consul Embracing First USGA Championship
After Claudio Consul, of Dusseldorf, Germany, finished as the runner-up by one stroke at the European Mid-Amateur Championship in June, he set his sights on getting his first taste of competition in the States. He didn't know it at the time, but he didn't even have to make the trans-Atlantic flight to try and qualify.

"I really wanted to play in this one because I had heard so many good things about it," said Consul, who owns a Ph. D in engineering from Oxford University and works in the fashion industry. "I was very keen to play, and I think I would have come over to try and qualify at Philly Cricket Club. But then I moved up in the world rankings and got exempt, which is obviously great.”

Consul is making the most of his opportunity so far, shooting a 2-under 68 on the North Course at Stonewall that gives him an excellent chance to make match play following the cut at the end of 36 holes. Which is good, because he's clearly enjoying himself. 

“I flew into New York on Wednesday afternoon and drove down, played practice rounds on Thursday and Friday, and here we are on Saturday," he said with a smile. "The tournament is absolutely fantastic. It's a blast."

1:45 p.m. EDT: Two Share Clubhouse Lead
Jim Coleman, of Billings, Mont., and Derek Busby, of Ruston, La., share the clubhouse lead after posting 3-under 67s on the North Course at Stonewall on Saturday. 

“I really played well inside 100 yards today, controlling my distance," said Busby. "I’ve put a lot of work in on that. Our head pro back at Squire Creek has allowed me to get on the back end of the driving range and practice a lot with TrackMan, really dialing in the numbers. My wedges were really good today, so I was able to take advantage of the shorter holes and that gave me some leeway to not have to press on the really difficult holes. I think that was the key to my round: playing the shorter holes well and then being super-conservative on the difficult holes.”

Added Coleman: “I think you can definitely let it loose a little bit on this golf course and get away with it. The rough isn’t quite as penalizing as the other course. I definitely think the Old Course is tougher.”

1:25 p.m. EDT: Old Playing Tough
Thus far, most of the good scoring has been done on the North Course, which is a little shorter than the Old and a bit more open. Joseph Saladino, of Huntington, N.Y., is the only golfer to have bettered par on the longer Old Course, which will be used for match play starting on Monday. Saladino, competing in his seventh Mid-Amateur, carded a 1-under 69 under hot and muggy conditions. Saladino helped New York win the 2012 USGA Men's State Team Championship at Galloway National Golf Club in New Jersey.

12:59 p.m. EDT: Defending the Crown
Sammy Schmitz, of Farmington, Minn., teed off on the first hole of the Old Course to begin his title defense. Schmitz is vying to become the third player to win consecutive U.S. Mid-Amateur titles, and the first since four-time champion Nathan Smith won in 2009-10. Smith also won in 2003 and 2012. Jim Stuart is the other player to have successfully defended, winning in 1990 and 1991.

Schmitz is grouped with Reid Hatley, of Spokane, Wash., and Matt Parziale, of Brockton, Mass. All three advanced to match play in 2015 at the John's Island Club in Vero Beach, Fla.

11:45 a.m. EDT: The Cricketeers
Members of the nearby Philadelphia Cricket Club have more than one reason to follow this week’s U.S. Mid-Amateur. Actually, they have three: John Brennan, Andy Latowski and Gregor Orlando. They are among a large contingent of players from the Golf Association of Philadelphia who have qualified for the championship. That list includes 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur champion and 2016 U.S. Senior Open low amateur Chip Lutz, of Reading, Pa.

10:45 a.m. EDT: Tom Doak Offers Some Sage Advice
Golf course architect Tom Doak led the design of both courses at Stonewall. He was on hand prior to the start of the championship and offered his take on the Old and North courses, which opened in 1993 and 2003, respectively.

“The owners wanted a traditional Philadelphia parkland course, so on the Old Course we built very small greens by modern standards, about 4,500 square feet on average. A lot of the greens sit on a sidehill, so the main challenge is, do you play your approach shot above the hole to try hitting it close, or do you play to the low side and chip or putt uphill? You ask yourself that question all the way around the golf course. The place to miss is always the low side.

“For the North Course, we wanted something that looked like a cousin but not like a twin brother. The greens are more complex, and the right place to miss changes based on the hole locations. The fairways are wider, to give the player more options on angle of approach because the greens are more severe. It’s neat topography for a golf course.”

For stroke play, the Old Course is set up at 6,866 yards and the North Course tops out at 6,750 yards. Both courses are par 70.

10:00 a.m. EDT: First Four-Ball Champs in Action Again
Nathan Smith, of Pittsburgh, and Todd White, of Spartanburg, S.C., are longtime friends who will forever be linked as the champions of the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which took place in May 2015 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Smith is also a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, while White is seeking his first individual USGA title. Both players began their first rounds on Stonewall's North Course this morning – White at 7:37 a.m. off the 10th tee, and Smith just 11 minutes later off the 1st tee. Smith is struggling so far, carding bogeys on four of his first seven holes, while White birdied his first hole and made the turn at 1 under par.

Four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith has his father, Larry, serving as his caddie this week at Stonewall. (USGA/Chris Keane)

9:00 a.m. EDT: A Name Fit for a King
On Aug. 29, 1964, a baby boy was born in Greensburg, Pa., which is near Arnold Palmer's hometown of Latrobe. The baby's parents were golf fans, and named their little boy Arnold in honor of their favorite player. Little did they know that Arnold Cutrell, who is competing in his eighth U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship this week at Stonewall, would have the opportunity to develop a connection with his namesake.

"I was a member at Bay Hill after college and played with Mr. Palmer a number of times," said Cutrell. "When my dad passed away, I saw him and he said, 'I'm sorry to hear about your dad,' and I responded that he had a lot of respect for you. And he said, 'Well I guess so, he named his son after me!' I then told Mr. Palmer that I also named my son Arnold, and he gave me a big smile. "He's just a great ambassador for the game, and his personality and love for the game always impresses people." Today, on Arnold Palmer's 87th birthday, Cutrell will hope to channel the King as he competes on a course where he also won two Pennsylvania Match Play titles, in 2005 and 2008.  

7:55 a.m. EDT: Eye on the World Rankings
Four years ago, the USGA began using the World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (WAGR) as criteria for players to become fully exempt for its championships. Three U.S. Mid-Amateur golfers qualified strictly by being inside the top 400 of the WAGR, led by Claudio Consul, of Germany at No. 65. The 33-year-old from Dusseldorf, who won the 2002 German Amateur and was the runner-up in the 2016 European Mid-Amateur, is competing in his first USGA championship. The other two WAGR qualifiers are 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur champion Doug Hanzel, of Savannah, Ga. (185th), and Joe Alfieri, of Lutz, Fla. (176th).

Scott Harvey, of Greensboro, N.C., the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team, sits two spots behind Consul at No. 67. Michael McCoy, of Des Moines, Iowa, the 2013 Mid-Amateur champion and Harvey’s Walker Cup teammate, is No. 205, while 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champion and 2013 USA Walker Cup Team member Todd White, of Spartanburg, S.C., is No. 216.

7:21 a.m. EDT: Greetings from Stonewall
Welcome to the first round of the 36th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship! It is a hazy, humid morning here in the rolling hills of eastern Pennsylvania, roughly 40 miles west of downtown Philadelphia. High temperatures are expected to top 90 degrees and there is a 40 percent chance of afternoon showers and storms, which hopefully will stay clear of us and not impact play. The good news is that this appears to be the last day of the late-summer heat wave, as a cold front is predicted to come through this evening and result in cooler, less humid conditions into next week.

A field of 264 amateurs, aged 25 and older, is here at Stonewall and the first groups began play at 7:15 a.m. off the #1 and #10 tees of the Old and North Courses, both designed by Tom Doak. Today is the first of two stroke-play rounds this weekend that will determine the 64 players who advance to match play.

 

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