BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Todd White, 45, of Spartanburg, S.C., shot a 4-under-par 66 Saturday to grab the lead midway through the first round of stroke-play qualifying in the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham.
White, a member of last month’s winning USA Walker Cup Team, birdied the last three holes on the par-70, 6,471-yard East Course, one of two courses being used during the championship’s two stroke-play rounds. A high school history teacher, White drove the green at the 297-yard, par-4 16th to begin his birdie run. He then hit a gap wedge on both Nos. 17 and 18 to set up birdie putts of 6 and 4 feet, respectively.
“I managed my way around the golf course very well today,” said White, whose only bogey came on the par-4 ninth after he struck a wayward tee shot. “I have always looked at this (stroke and match play) as two individual tournaments. I didn’t come here with the idea of just trying to make one of the top 64 (low scorers); I came here with the idea of winning stroke play.”
Nathan Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, along with past Mid-Amateur winners Randal Lewis, David Womack and Kevin Marsh, and last year’s runner-up, Garrett Rank, were among 132 players who had afternoon starting times.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Thursday, Oct. 10, starting at 7 a.m. CDT.
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.
Mike McCoy, 50, of West Des Moines, Iowa, posted a 2-under 68 on the East Course by making five birdies against three bogeys. He made an 18-foot uphill birdie putt on the par-5 11th, his fourth birdie of the round, and sank a downhill 8-footer on No. 14.
“I am glad I played a good round; you always like to have a few acorns in your pocket,” said McCoy, who has advanced to match play in 10 of his previous 13 Mid-Amateur appearances. “I holed a couple of nice putts. I hit a lot of quality iron shots. [But] I hit a couple of drivers out of play and that’s where I made those bogeys.”
Tim Jackson, 54, of Germantown, Tenn., shot the morning’s best score on the par-71, 7,173-yard West Course. The two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion made four birdies and two bogeys en route to a 2-under 69 that tied him with McCoy.
Jackson, who won his Mid-Amateur titles in 1994 and 2001, recovered from a three-putt bogey on the first hole to birdie Nos. 6 and 7. He struck a sand wedge to within 2 feet on par-5 10th for the first of two consecutive birdies on the inward nine. Jackson, who kept his drives in the fairway throughout the round, made a 20-foot putt on No. 11 before leaving his approach short and bogeying No. 17.
“Shoot a better score,” said Jackson, when asked about his mindset heading into the second round of stroke play. “Keep the pedal down. Keep going through the same routines and the same thought processes and make aggressive swings.”
Kenneth McCready, of San Diego, Calif., is one seven players who shot 70. But the 25-year-old, who is playing his first U.S. Mid-Amateur, was the only one to post that score on the more difficult West Course, where the match-play portion of the championship will be exclusively held.
McCready, who has had nine surgeries in the past six years, including operations on both shoulders, birdied his first hole, the 550-yard, par-5 10th. He added birdies on Nos. 2 and 8 before finishing with a bogey for a 1-under score.
“I played away from most of the pins which made for a lot of hard putts, but my speed was good,” said McCready, whose previous USGA championship experience came at the 2010 U.S. Amateur and 2005 Junior Amateur. “It was more just get your par and get to the next hole. I grinded on every single shot.”
Brian DePasquale is the USGA’s manager of championship communications. E-mail him at email@example.com.