U.S. MID-AMATEUR
Round 2 of Stroke Play: 5 Things October 9, 2017 | Atlanta, Ga. By David Shefter, USGA

Jamie Pate (left) says it is easier caddieing for good friend and fellow Capital City Club member Matthew Swan than his more famous dad. (USGA/Chris Keane)

U.S. Mid-Amateur Home

It may be a day later than scheduled, but the second round of stroke play in the 37th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship will take place on Monday at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course and Atlanta National Golf Club.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Nate passed through the region on Sunday, dropping 2-plus inches of rain, but not dampening the spirits of the competitors.

So on a day when the golfers’ focus will be on securing a spot among the top 64 scorers in order to advance to match play, here are five storylines to watch for:

Waiting Game

Without being able to practice on a soggy Sunday, many competitors took to watching the NFL or the Major League Baseball playoffs. It was an unscheduled day off, giving those who might have played below their expectations in Round 1 on Saturday an extra 24 hours to regroup. It also could halt the momentum for those who played well on Saturday.

Any way you look at it, everyone should be well rested and refreshed for the final 18 holes of stroke play.

Familiar Name

Forty-one years ago, Jerry Pate dazzled the golf world with his brilliant 5-iron approach on the 72nd hole to all but seal the 1976 U.S. Open title at Atlanta Athletic Club, about a 20-minute drive from this year’s Mid-Amateur venues. Pate is expected to be at Capital City Club on Monday to support his youngest son, Jamie. Jamie, a Capital City member who works for his dad’s golf cart/design business in Atlanta, isn’t in the field, but he is caddieing for good friend and fellow Capital City member Matthew Swan.

The two first met as undergraduates when Swan, a former University of Alabama player, shared  a house with Pate’s older siblings, Wesley and Jennifer. Although Jamie was attending Florida State University at the time– he earned his master’s degree at Alabama – he often drove to Tuscaloosa on weekends and began to forge a friendship with Swan. When Jamie moved to Atlanta to work for his father’s business, he happened to join Capital City Club at the same time Swan was becoming a member.

So Jamie was a natural choice to caddie when Swan qualified for the Mid-Amateur at Capital City’s Brookhaven Course on Sept. 6.

“He’s a lot easier than caddieing for my dad,” said Pate smiling. “Matt is one of my closest friends.”

They are hoping a switch to familiar surroundings will lead to a better result than the first-round 77 (+6) Swan posted at Atlanta National on Saturday.

“I’m ready to get on the home course,” said Swan. “I know I will need to shoot even par or one under [to make match play].”

Upon Further Review

Joshua Irving doesn’t have an instructor and rarely looks at video. But when something was a little off in his golf swing on Friday, he decided to have his caddie videotape his swing. He noticed his timing was off. A small fix on the range seemed to remedy the problem.

On Saturday, Irving posted the lowest round at Atlanta National, a 3-under-par 68.

“I really figured something out,” said Irving, of Dallas, Texas. “I figured out what was going on and really started striping it.”

Watching the Cutline

The second stroke-play round at any USGA amateur championship always brings a certain amount of drama, tension and excitement. Who will be the 64 players to make match play and where will the cut fall?

Projecting the cut, especially given Sunday’s rain, can be challenging. On Saturday, 79 golfers posted 73 (2 over at Atlanta National and 3 over at Capital City Club) or better. Those who posted first-round scores around that number included defending champion Stewart Hagestad (2-over 73), four-time champion Nathan Smith (2-over 72), reigning U.S. Senior Amateur champion Sean Knapp (2-over 72), 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey (3-over 74), 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball co-champion Todd White (4-over 75), 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Randal Lewis (4-over 74), 2013 runner-up Bill Williamson (2-over 73) and 2015 runner-up Marc Dull (4-over 75).

By the Numbers

Atlanta National played a little more than two strokes tougher than Capital City Club’sCrabapple Course in Round 1. The stroke average at Crabapple was 74.568, while Atlanta National was 76.871.

The par-5 13th hole proved to be a key scoring opportunity at Atlanta National. Nearly a third of the field (43 of 132) made birdie (41) or eagle (two). It played to a stroke average of 4.841. The toughest hole was the par-4 ninth, which measured 480 yards. It yielded just two birdies and played to a stroke average of 4.697.

The par-5 15th was the easiest hole statistically at Crabapple, with 39 of the 132 players making birdie (it didn’t yield an eagle,playing to a stroke average of 4.856. The toughest hole was the 486-yard, par-4 16th hole (4.667). Only four birdies were recorded on the hole against 55 bogeys, 11 double bogeys and five instances of triple bogey or worse.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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