BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Matthew Mattare, 27, of New York, shot a 2-under-par 69 Sunday to take the early clubhouse lead on the second day of stroke-play qualifying in the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham. Mattare, who carded a first-round 67, sits at 5-under 136 after 36 holes.
Mattare, who advanced to the U.S. Mid-Amateur quarterfinals last year, one-putted his last seven greens on the par-71, 7,173-yard West Course, one of two courses used during the championship’s two stroke-play rounds.
“It’s just a sign that you are playing well,” said Mattare, about the prospects of earning stroke-play medalist honors. “While it’s exciting you have to keep it in perspective and realize you didn’t come here to win the stroke play, you came here to win the match play.”
First round co-leader Todd White, 45, of Spartanburg, S.C., was among 132 golfers with afternoon tee times.
Mattare, who started on the West Course’s 10th tee, birdied Nos. 17 and 18 with a pair of 6-foot putts. After adding another birdie on the par-4 3rd, he made three consecutive pars in spectacular fashion. He hit his tee shot in the hazard at No. 4 but saved par with a 20-foot putt. At the par-3 5th, Mattare got up and down from a greenside bunker before holing a 60-foot putt from the front of the green at No. 6.
Continuing his good stretch of play, Mattare pitched to within 8 feet for par at No. 7. He then sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 193-yard, par-3 eighth and finished with a sand save from the front greenside bunker at No. 9.
Kenny Cook, 33, of Noblesville, Ind., turned in the best round of the championship with a 5-under 65 on the par-70, 6,471-yard East Course. Cook, who shot a 73 in the opening round, posted a two-day total of 138.
Cook used a “grip pressure” adjustment in the middle of his round to make seven birdies, including his final two holes after starting the East’s 10th tee. He left his approach shot short of the green at the par-4 eighth but then chipped in from 35 feet. Cook finished by making a downhill 15-foot birdie putt on No. 9.
“I struggled yesterday and couldn’t figure it out,” said Cook, the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up. “[The 65] doesn’t hurt, but now today’s over. It’s a new day when match play starts.”
Kevin Marsh, 40, of Henderson, Nev., shared the first-round lead with a 66, but slipped to a 2-over 73 on the West Course. Marsh, who has only missed match play once in 10 previous Mid-Amateur appearances, has a two-round total of 139. He is tied with Bill Williamson, 36, of Cincinnati, Ohio, who carded a 67 to go with his first-round 72.
Paul Simson, 62, of Raleigh, N.C., shot his second consecutive 70. The two-time USGA Senior Amateur champion made two birdies and two bogeys and is one of two players at 1-under-par 140.
Nathan Smith, the defending U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and four-time winner of this event, had a second-round 72 on the East Course and is at 5-over 146 after two rounds.
“That should be good (for making match play),” said Smith, who was a member of last month’s winning USA Walker Cup Team. “I played well both days. The flags are tucked; they are tough to get to, and the rough is thick. It’s a great test of golf out here.”
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.