BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Losing is never easy, but when it happens two consecutive years in the U.S. Mid-Amateur, there is a little more disappointment than the satisfaction of a great run.
Kevin Marsh, who won the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur at The Honors Course in suburban Chattanooga, Tenn., received another bronze medal from the USGA on Wednesday afternoon at Saucon Valley Country Club’s Old Course. This time, it was co-medalist Scott Harvey who eliminated the 41-year-old from Henderson, Nev., 3 and 2. Last year, at the Country Club of Birmingham (Ala.), Marsh fell to eventual champion Michael McCoy, 4 and 3.
Marsh’s latest defeat came on the heels of a pair of remarkable extra-hole victories. In Tuesday’s Round of 32, he beat four-time champion Nathan Smith in 20 holes, converting a 30-footer from off the green. Twenty-four hours later, he was faced with a difficult pitch shot on the par-5 first hole (19th of the match) against Patrick Christovich in the quarterfinals. Marsh hit the flagstick again and holed a 5-foot birdie putt for the victory.
Alas, he ran out of gas in the semifinals. Not only was the defeat disappointing, Marsh knows a spot in the final would have earned him an exemption into next year’s U.S. Amateur as well as a spot in U.S. Open sectional qualifying. The champion, as he knows, receives a likely invite to the 2015 Masters.
It was 80 percent self-inflicted and the other 20 percent he played well, said Marsh of the semifinal loss. He hit some great shots and [holes] 8, 9 and 10, I didn’t even make him putt.
Utility Club Can’t Rescue Werkmeister
While every player can point to missed putts, Tom Werkmeister admitted that it was his utility club that let him down in his 19-hole defeat to co-medalist Brad Nurski. All day, Werkmeister was fighting a push with his hybrid club, and it reared its ugly head again on the first extra hole.
Sitting perfectly in the fairway off the tee, Werkmeister tried to position himself for a comfortable third shot into the par-5 hole. But he blocked it right into the rough, leaving him a difficult third. He dumped the next shot into the front-right greenside bunker and then missed a 5-footer for par, which ended the match.
It was awful, said the 46-year-old from Kentwood, Mich. I hit it awful. I lost confidence in it.
When asked why he didn’t try another club in his bag, Werkmeister added: I am pretty stubborn in that aspect.
Nevertheless, Werkmeister said when he reflects on his performance this week, he’ll be proud of the run. By reaching the semifinals, he received a two-year exemption from qualifying, something he knows is never easy.
Qualifying is very difficult, he said. It’s one round. You get one shot at it with 60 or 80 guys.
Werkmeister can use the experience this week for the upcoming USGA Men’s State Team Championship at French Lick (Ind.) Resort. The 2014 Michigan Golf Hall of Fame inductee will team with Andrew Chapman and Nathan Clark.
A lot of positives come out of it, said Werkmeister. But right now, it’s hard to think about it.
Finalist Brad Nurski has a chance to become the first left-handed champion in Mid-Amateur history and the sixth in USGA history, joining Ralph Howe III (1988 Amateur Public Links), Phil Mickelson (1990 U.S. Amateur), Brian Harman (2003 U.S. Junior Amateur), Brad Benjamin (2009 APL) and Julia Potter (2013 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur). Potter is still in contention at the Women’s Mid-Amateur. Not only are they both southpaws, but both have Missouri ties – Nurski is from St. Joseph and Potter graduated from the University of Missouri.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.