Big Field, With Big Dreams, Prepares for the U.S. Mid-Amateur
September 28, 2015 | Far Hills, N.J.
By David Shefter, USGA
Beginning Saturday, Oct. 3, 264 golfers will begin play in the 35th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at John’s Island Club near Vero Beach, Fla. Each competitor will play 18 holes on the West Course, which also will serve as the match-play venue, and the North Course, with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play starting on Monday, Oct. 5. The competition concludes with a 36-hole final match on Thursday, Oct. 8. Here are some notable stroke-play groupings (all times EDT):
Saturday, 8:47 a.m., Hole No. 1 (West Course); Sunday, 1:37 p.m., Hole No. 10 (North Course): Domingo Jojola, Burlingame, Calif.; Brian Noonan, Austin, Texas; Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C.
Harvey will begin defense of his championship a few weeks after competing in the Walker Cup Match at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in England. Earlier this year, Harvey won the South American Amateur and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Japan Amateur. Jojola caddied for Lydia Ko when she claimed the 2014 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif., where Jojola was a Junior Merit Member. Noonan is competing in his first U.S. Mid-Amateur and second USGA championship.
Saturday, 12:15 p.m., Hole No. 1 (North Course); Sunday, 7:30 a.m., Hole No. 10 (West Course): Mike McCoy, Des Moines, Iowa; Jay Whitby, Dover, Del.; Reid Hatley, Hayden Lake, Idaho
The 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, McCoy, 52, became the third-oldest Walker Cup competitor in history this year.. Whitby, a 28-year-old car dealer, is playing in his first U.S. Mid-Amateur after representing his state in the 2009 USGA Men’s State Team Championship. Hatley, 34, is also making his first Mid-Amateur start, but he advanced to the Round of 32 in the 2002 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club, the same year his then-University of Arizona teammate Ricky Barnes won the title.
Saturday, 8:08 a.m., Hole No. 10 (North Course); Sunday, 12:48 p.m., Hole No. 1 (West Course): J.C. Riter, Portland, Ore.; Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Chad Bolt, Grove City, Ohio
No competitor has won more U.S. Mid-Amateurs than Smith, 37, with four. Smith also has represented the USA three times in Walker Cup competition, playing on victorious Teams in 2009 and 2013. Riter, 28, helped the University of Redlands finish second in the 2008 NCAA Division III Championship, and Bolt, 39, learned the game while serving in the military after high school. Both are playing in their first USGA championship.
Saturday, 1:15 p.m., Hole No. 10 (North Course); Sunday, 8:25 a.m., Hole No. 1 (West Course): Aaron Gavin, South Milwaukee, Wis.; Jeff Wilson, Fairfield, Calif.; Patrick Christovich, New Orleans, La.
While Wilson, 52, and Christovich, 37, are still seeking their first USGA championship titles, both have enjoyed success in the U.S. Mid-Amateur. Wilson, a car dealer, is a two-time semifinalist (2001 and 2002) and three-time quarterfinalist (2000, 2004 and 2008) in the championship. He was also the low amateur in the 2000 U.S. Open and the stroke-play co-medalist in the 2000 U.S. Amateur and outright medalist in the 2010 U.S. Amateur. Christovich, a realtor, advanced to the quarterfinals of last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur and qualified for match play on two other occasions. Gavin, 27, is competing in his first USGA championship.
Saturday, 7:41 a.m., Hole No. 1 (West Course); Sunday, 12:31 p.m., Hole No. 10 (North Course): Randal Lewis, Alma, Mich.; Michael Marks, San Diego, Calif.; Charlie Blanchard, Warwick, R.I.
In the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas, Lewis ended Nathan Smith’s bid for a third consecutive title in the semifinals and then beat Kenny Cook in the final to become the Mid-Amateur’s oldest champion at 54 years, 4 months. Blanchard, 50, is the golf coach at Bryant University and advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Conway Farms. USGA championship rookie Marks, 27, is currently working on his master’s degree in data science at the University of California-Berkeley.
Saturday, 9:20 a.m., Hole No. 1 (West Course); Sunday, 2:10 p.m., Hole No. 10 (North Course): Greg Puga, Long Beach, Calif.; Brad Wilder, Fort Wright, Ky.; Jeff Golden, Jacksonville, Fla.
In 2000 at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va., Puga, at 29, became the youngest U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, a record broken three years later by Nathan Smith. Puga then turned professional for a few years and even caddied briefly on the LPGA Tour for Lizette Salas and Ryan O’Toole before the 44-year-old regained his amateur status last year. Golden, 30, is competing in his first U.S. Mid-Amateur, but fifth USGA championship, including the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. Wilder, 36, qualified for his fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur and seventh USGA championship.
Saturday, 9:20 a.m., Hole No. 10 (West Course); Sunday, 2:05 p.m., Hole No. 1 (North Course): Kevin Marsh, Las Vegas, Nev.; Brett Parker, Biloxi, Miss.; Howard Oliver, Oakland, Calif.
Marsh, 42, won the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur and in each of the last two Mid-Amateurs he has lost in the semifinals to the eventual winner (Mike McCoy in 2013 and Scott Harvey last year). The commercial real estate developer also was a semifinalist in 2007.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.