Medalist Tilley, Georgian Harrell Among Quarterfinalists
October 11, 2017 | Atlanta, Ga.
By Brian DePasquale, USGA
Bradford Tilley, 34, of Easton, Conn., won two matches and fought off illness Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinal round of the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. Tilley, the top seed who earned medalist honors during stroke play, defeated Jason Anthony, 34, of Fairfield, Calif., 3 and 2, and Devaughn Robinson, 29, of the Bahamas, 2 up, on the par-70, 7,207-yard Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course.
Tilley, who fell ill before Tuesday’s first round of match play and later made a trip to the emergency room where he was given two liters of fluids through an IV and later nursed himself back to health with chicken soup and crackers, had to go the distance against Robinson in the Round of 16.
“I am just happy to be healthy,” said Tilley, who used an umbrella to stay in the shade during his afternoon match. “Feeling a lot better. I feel like we are moving in the right direction.”
He progressed into the quarterfinals when he lifted a 56-degree wedge from the right rough to within 7 feet for a conceded par on No. 18 after he punched out from deep grass following a wayward tee shot.
Robinson, who won the 2016 Bahamas Amateur and has competed in all three Latin American Amateur Championships, pressed Tilley to the limit when he took a 2-up lead at the turn by winning holes 8 and 9 with a birdie and a par, respectively.
“I’ve got a lot of perseverance, a lot of determination,” said Robinson, who upended Ryan Sloane, 38, of Campbell, Calif., 2 and 1, in the Round of 32 on Wednesday morning. “Never thought I couldn’t win, but I figured I was an underdog.”
Tilley, who played on professional tours for eight years before regaining his amateur status in 2016, rallied with winning pars at holes 10, 13 and 14 to regain the lead. Robinson, an all-conference selection at Texas Southern University, followed by delivering a 6-iron to within 12 feet at the par-3 15th. He squared the match with a left-to-right sliding putt.
From that point, Tilley took advantage of some of his opponent’s miscues. When Robinson missed the green to the right at No. 16 with his approach and made bogey, Tilley went back in front by hitting a 6-iron to within 13 feet to set up a conceded par. Robinson was in trouble off the tee at the 471-yard, par-4 18th and eventually made bogey after nearly holing a 32-footer for par.
“I told myself, just stay calm,” said Tilley about trailing during the match. “I was able to take advantage of some solid, consistent play on the back nine. I think I only missed two greens and only a few fairways.”
The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship continues with the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Thursday. The championship concludes with a 36-hole final on Friday starting at 8 a.m. EDT. Play was postponed for a full day earlier in the week due to the impact of Tropical Depression Nate.
In the morning session against Anthony, Tilley won three consecutive holes on the outward nine to post a 3-up advantage. His nifty greenside bunker shot led to a conceded birdie at No. 5, before he sank a winding, uphill 50-foot birdie putt at No. 6. He completed that stretch by striking a wedge to within 8 feet at the par-4 seventh.
Scott Anderson, the No. 3 seed who works as a club fitter, also advanced to the quarterfinals in his first Mid-Amateur. He posted a 3-and-1 victory over David Easley, 38, of Lincoln, Neb. in the Round of 16. Anderson, 35, of Columbus, Ohio, halved the eighth hole with a 15-foot par putt and then forged a 2-up advantage at the turn by getting up and down from a greenside bunker on No. 9 for a winning par.
“This is what we came here to do,” said Anderson about reaching the quarterfinals. “The irons have been strong. We’re really working hard on hitting lines. You just have to make sure that distance control is on point.”
Anderson trailed in his second-round encounter with Brenton Flynn, 33, of Vienna, Va., but regrouped with winning pars on holes 14 and 16. Flynn, who squared the match with a birdie on the par-4 17th, found the left rough with his tee shot on the final hole and that led to a bogey. Anderson hit a 6-iron approach within 22 feet and two-putted for a par to advance.
Tyler Crawford, who is a real estate lender and is playing in his sixth Mid-Amateur, dispatched Thomas Todd III, the No. 2 seed, in the Round 32. He won six consecutive holes, including four with birdies, on the outward nine en route to a 7-and-5 victory.
“He hit good shot after good shot and kept putting pressure on me,” said Todd, 30, of Laurens, S.C. “I didn’t respond well. Just got going south. I wasn’t able to right the ship.”
Crawford, 44, of Indio, Calif., stayed hot in the afternoon when he easily defeated Joseph Ida, 29, of Overland Park, Kan., 6 and 5. He birdied his last three holes to close out the win, including an 8-iron tee shot to within 5 feet on the 160-yard, par-3 13th.
“For most of us over 25 years old, this is our dream tournament,” said Crawford, who totaled 10 birdies in 25 holes played during the day. “[My play] wasn’t quite as good as this morning, but it was right there.”
Mark Harrell, 32, of Lookout Mountain, Ga., and Michael Muehr, 45, of Potomac, Va., staged the most compelling match of the championship. Harrell, who posted a 1-up decision in the Round-of-16 battle, made seven birdies against no bogeys in what was the equivalent to a score of 63 with concessions. Muehr, who reached last year’s Mid-Amateur quarterfinals, had six birdies. The two halved three holes with birdies.
“I got up early and I knew he was not going to stop,” said Harrell, whose 25-foot birdie putt halved No. 14 and kept his lead at 3 up. “I had to keep my foot on the pedal and keep trying to make birdies.”
Dan Sullivan, a semifinalist last year at Stonewall, in Elverson, Pa., rallied from 2 down with six holes to play to edge Dusty Drenth, 29, of Davenport, Iowa, in the Round of 32. Drenth had knocked off defending champion Stewart Hagestad in the opening round of match play on Tuesday. Sullivan, 50, of Pasadena, Calif., sank a 13-foot putt on the par-3 13th to begin a run where he won three of four holes. He went on to edge David Lang, 30, of Canada, 1 up, in the Round of 16 to set up a quarterfinal rematch with Joshua Irving.
Irving, 31, of Dallas, Texas, advanced to the quarterfinals for a third consecutive year after beating Corby Segal, 46, of Santa Clarita, Calif., 2 and 1. He held off Philip Lee, 32, of White Bluff, Tenn., in 21 holes earlier in the day.
Matt Parziale, 30, of Brockton, Mass., and Josh Nichols, 26, of Kernersville, N.C., also joined the list of quarterfinalists after winning a pair of matches. Parziale, a firefighter, struck a 195-yard 6-iron to within 5 feet for a conceded birdie to close out Sam O’Dell, 39, of Hurricane, W.Va., 2 up. Nichols, a wedding caterer, turned back 2014 Mid-Amateur runner-up Brad Nurski, 38, of St. Joseph, Mo., 2 and 1.
Quarterfinalists receive an exemption into next year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, Sept. 22-27 at Charlotte Country Club and Carolina Golf Club, in Charlotte, N.C.
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.
Brian DePasquale is the USGA’s manager of championship communications. Email him at email@example.com.