36th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, conducted by the United States Golf Association
(ELVERSON, Pa.) – Michael Muehr, 44, of Potomac Falls, Va., shot a 2-under-par 68 on Sunday to share medalist honors with Tom Werkmeister, 48, of Grandville, Mich., and Scott Harvey, 38, of Greensboro, N.C., in the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Stonewall. Each player posted a two-round total of 2-under-par 138.
“I’ve been on the wrong side of [the draw] a lot of times over my 30 years of playing golf, but it’s nice to be on the right side of it,” said Muehr about how the wind became calmer as the round progressed. “There’s no question we caught a little break playing in the morning yesterday and the afternoon today.”
Muehr, who carded a 70 in the opening round, credited getting up and down from over a stone wall for a par at No. 2 while a northwest wind was still gusting as a key moment. He followed with a birdie at the par-5 third.
Werkmeister, who is playing in his seventh U.S. Mid-Amateur and advanced to the semifinals in 2014, set his eyes on the top spot from early on.
“My #1 goal was to be medalist, because I’ve never done it before,” said Werkmeister. “I don’t think it really matters for match play if you’re the #1 seed or the #64 seed. Just make match play, and anything can happen from there.”
Werkmeister, who shot an opening-round 68, made two birdies and two bogeys in the second round. He chipped to tap-in range for a birdie on the par-5 18th, his ninth hole, before converting a 5-footer for birdie on No. 3 that moved him to 4 under for the championship. But he bogeyed holes 6 and 7, the latter the result of wayward tee shot.
“It was tough,” said Werkmeister about a changing weather pattern from the previous day on the par-70, 6,711-yard North Course. “This course is supposed to be easier, and it is, but the wind made it pretty challenging.”
Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who shared the first-round lead with a 66, was able to grind out his second-round score despite the blustery conditions on the par-70, 6,870-yard Old Course. He overcame three consecutive bogeys during his outward nine by making 11 consecutive pars.
“I would have taken 75 because I knew it was going to be tough today,” said Harvey, who earned medalist honors for a record fourth time in this championship and had shared the previous mark with three others, including three-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and Pennsylvania native Jay Sigel. “This course is very uncomfortable for me. There are not many shots at all that make me feel confident.”
Harvey flew the green with his approach shot on the par-4 fourth hole but got up and down with a 20-foot par putt. He also sank a par-saving 6-footer on his final hole, the par-3 ninth.
“The greens are a lot smaller over here so your line and your yardage better be spot on,” said Harvey, who won his Mid-Amateur title one hour north of Stonewall at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem. “I was out of position a couple of 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, Sept. 15, starting at 7:45 a.m. EDT.
First-round co-leader Brad Wilder was derailed by the wind on the Old Course’s inward nine and posted a 6-over-par 76. He started his round on No. 10 and opened with 10 straight pars before a making three bogeys and a double-bogey in a four-hole stretch.
“I hit three or four shots that I thought were proper golf shots and I totally misjudged the wind,” said Wilder, who flew the green and into a hazard at the par-3 seventh hole.
Wilder, who finished with a two-round total of 2-over 142, settled down by holing a 24-footer for par on No. 8 and making a routine par at No. 9, his final hole.
“To end with that putt (on 8) and a really good golf swing on 9 is a little bit of good momentum,” said Wilder, who advanced to last year’s semifinals.
Derek Busby, 32, of Ruston, La., was one stroke behind the medalists at 1-under 139. He shot a 72 in the second round after opening with a 67. Busby took advantage of the Old Course’s par 5s on his inward nine with birdies at holes 1 and 3. He reached the first hole in two with a 4-iron and set up his birdie at No. 3 with a pitch shot to within 5 feet.
“This time around I was able to practice and really hone my short game,” said Busby, who failed to qualify for match play in his first Mid-Amateur in 2014. “(In) match play you’ve got to be fluid and you’ve got to be able to adjust.”
Joseph Saladino, 36, of Huntington, N.Y., turned in a 36-hole score of even-par 140 after finishing his second-round 71 with a birdie on the North Course’s 18th hole. Saladino, who shot a 69 in the first round, reached the Mid-Amateur’s Round of 16 in 2010 and 2013. Darin Goldstein, 35, of New York, N.Y., was one stroke back of Saladino at 1-over 142. Goldstein had rounds of 70 and 71.
Defending U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Sammy Schmitz, 36, of Farmington, Minn., birdied his final two holes on the North Course to post an even-par 70 and advance to match play with a 36-hole score of 5-over 145. Schmitz delivered a 54-yard wedge to within 7 feet on the par-5 eighth and finished with a 15-foot birdie putt.
“I didn’t hit the ball terrible yesterday; I just got tricked by the golf course,” said Schmitz about playing his first round at the Old Course. “I think that’s one of those courses that you have to play three or four times, and hopefully I get that opportunity and I feel more comfortable as the week goes on.”
Nathan Smith, 38, of Pittsburgh, Pa., was among six U.S. Mid-Amateur champions who failed to qualify for match play. Smith, who has won a record four Mid-Amateur titles, had rounds of 76 and 75.
Fourteen players tied for 64th place at 9-over 149, resulting in a playoff for the final match-play berth. The playoff will start on Monday at 7:15 a.m. on the Old Course’s ninth hole.
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.