U.S. MID-AMATEUR
38th U.S. Mid-Amateur: 5 Things to Know for Round 2 September 23, 2018 | Charlotte, N.C. By David Shefter, USGA

Stroke-play co-host Carolina G.C. played just more than a half-stroke higher in Round 1 than Charlotte Country Club. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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The last official day of summer brought a few surprises at the 38th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, and the mercury nearly hitting 90 degrees wasn’t one of them. Temperatures weren’t the only thing boiling at Charlotte Country Club and stroke-play co-host Carolina Golf Club in Saturday’s first round of stroke play.

Several big-name players struggled, some of whom are past champions of either the U.S. Mid-Amateur or U.S. Senior Amateur.

While 14 competitors among the 264-player field bettered par, 52 failed to break 80.

And the venue didn’t seem to matter as both courses were equally challenging.

What will the final round of stroke play produce? Here are five things to know going into Sunday:

Donald Ross Is Smiling

Both of the renowned architect’s layouts were equally challenging on Saturday, with Carolina Golf Club (76.5), which is serving as a stroke-play host, playing a half-stroke higher than Charlotte Country Club (75.9), the site for the entire match-play portion of the competition. Bill McCarthy, the director of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, said the rough at Carolina Golf Club was a bit higher and the hole locations a tad more difficult.

Generally, the stroke-play co-host is the less daunting of the two courses when two venues are utilized (U.S. Amateur, U.S.  Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Mid-Amateur).

But two years ago, the North Course at John’s Island Club, the stroke-play co-host, played a half-stroke more difficult than the West Course. At last month’s U.S. Amateur, Spyglass Hill had a higher stroke average than Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Chase For No. 1

Stewart Hagestad, the 2016 champion from Newport Beach, Calif., and 2017 medalist Bradford Tilley, of Easton, Conn., shared the first-round lead with 4-under 67s at Charlotte Country Club, one stroke better than Jacob Koppenberg and Rob Laird, both of whom played Charlotte C.C. Four others sit at 69, with only Kyle Davies having played Carolina Golf Club on Saturday. Marc Dull, the 2015 runner-up, is among that group. The group three behind includes 2008 runner-up Todd Mitchell, who was 5 under through 10 holes at Charlotte C.C. before faltering over his last eight holes.

Keep in mind, the medalist has only won five times in 37 previous championships, and Scott Harvey (2014) is the last medalist to hoist the Robert T. Jones Memorial Trophy.

Manic Sunday

The more compelling story is the other end of the spectrum, where luminaries such as four-time champion Nathan Smith, 2014 runner-up Brad Nurski, 2013 champion Michael McCoy, 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur champion Dave Ryan and 2011 runner-up Kenny Cook will be grinding to make the cut.

After Round 1, the cutline was 3 over and using the general formula of doubling that score and adding one, the projected cut for match play would be 7-over 149. None of the aforementioned players can afford mistakes on Sunday or they’ll be making a premature departure.

Should there be a playoff, it would take place on Monday morning at Charlotte C.C, beginning at No. 10 and then advancing, if necessary, to Nos. 16, 17 and 18.

Welcome Mulligan

Philip Arouca, of Lake Forest, Ill., received a phone call at 2 p.m. CDT Tuesday that a spot had become open at the Mid-Amateur, thanks to the withdrawal of Charles Waddell. The 33-year-old had just started a new job with KemperSports, so he wasn’t sure he could get clearance to leave. Then he had to worry about flights and his family because his wife and 2½-year-old daughter were in Cleveland. Babysitting needed to be juggled, but his supportive family gave him the thumbs-up to play.

Without the benefit of a practice round at stroke-play co-host Carolina Golf Club, Arouca carded a 1-over 72, which puts him in position to make match play with another solid round on Sunday at Charlotte Country Club.

“I went in kind of blind,” said Arouca, who is competing in his first U.S. Mid-Amateur and fourth USGA championship. “This golf course is really in front of you and there aren’t a lot of tricks out there, which is kind of nice. To be honest, I hit the ball poorly with my irons. My short game was great, though. I really rolled the ball well. Toward the end of the round I started to feel it coming back. I’m really happy to be here and I [am] hoping to squeeze into the match play.”

Celebrity Host

Jeff Osberg, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., has known former Duke University basketball standout and current ESPN analyst Jay Bilas for a couple of years since they met at a Northeast club where both are members. Earlier this year, Bilas mentioned to Osberg that he was going to be the guest speaker at the Players’ Dinner.

“You get to hear me talk and I’ll make fun of you guys,” Bilas, a member at Charlotte Country Club and Carolina Golf Club, told Osberg at the time. Bilas did have a few one-liners about Osberg and his caddie at the dinner, which drew hearty laughs.

Bilas sent Osberg a congratulatory text after he qualified to inquire where he was going to stay. When Osberg said a local hotel, Bilas invited him to stay at his Charlotte home, and even offered to host his caddie.

“It’s great not to be in a hotel,” said Osberg after shooting a 1-over 72 at Carolina Golf Club on Saturday. “Southern hospitality is fantastic.”

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

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