Kevin Marsh a big winner as USGA Mid-Am rolls to quarterfinals
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Kevin Marsh, 40, of Henderson, Nev., won two matches, including a second-round win over defending champion Nathan Smith, 35, of Pittsburgh, on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinal round at the 2013 U.S. Mid- Amateur Championship, held at the par-71, 7,173-yard Country Club of Birmingham’s West Course.

Marsh, the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur titlist, defeated Smith, a four-time winner of this championship, 2 and 1. In the third round, he held off Keith Unikel, 34, of Potomac, Md., 1 up.

“I told myself at lunch to not have a letdown,” said Marsh about his morning win over Smith, a member of last month’s winning USA Walker Cup Team. “I was proud of myself for beating Nathan. It wouldn’t have meant as much if I was not able to back it up.”

The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship continues with the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Wednesday. The championship is 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.

Marsh had a 3-up lead after 10 holes, but Unikel reeled off three consecutive birdies to square the match. A pair of pars helped Marsh win Nos. 14 and 15. He two-putted from the upper left fringe on the par-4 14th and sunk a 6-footer on the following hole.

After a bogey on No. 16 cut his lead in half, Marsh, the No. 4 seed coming out of the stroke play portion of the championship, later found himself in the left fairway bunker on the 434-yard, par-4 18th. He calmly struck a 9-iron to within 9 feet to set up the match-clinching par.

“Pars are really good around here, especially the last five or six holes,” said Marsh, who advanced to the U.S. Mid-Amateur quarterfinals for a fourth time. “I am not swinging real confidently. It’s all about figuring out a way and taking it one hole at a time.”

Bill Williamson, the third seed, also defeated two opponents to reach the quarterfinal round. The 36-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio, dispatched Joseph Saladino, 33, of Huntington, N.Y., 5 and 4, in the third round. He also won by a conceded match in the second round when Tim Hogarth, 47, of Northridge, Calif., could not continue on the fourth hole due to illness.

In his match against Saladino, Williamson won consecutive holes to build a 3-up advantage on the outward nine. He made a 20-foot par putt on the par-4 7th and added another par on the next hole. Williamson extended his lead to 4-up on the par-5 10th with a 15-foot birdie putt. He closed out the match by holing a 60- footer from the back of green for another birdie on No. 14.

“Even though it’s match play I still think you are playing the golf course and playing yourself,” said Williamson, whose previous best performance in this championship was reaching the Round of 16 in 2006. “I am trying to concentrate on the process.”

Kenneth McCready, the youngest remaining player in the field at age 25, had to stave off his third-round opponent Brad Valois, 26, of Warwick, R.I., for a 1-up victory. McCready, of San Diego, Calif., birdied three of the first six holes to build a 4-up cushion. He struck a 149-yard, 9-iron to within 6 feet on the par-4 6th.

Valois, the stroke-play medalist at last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, rallied by winning three consecutive holes on the inward nine with a birdie and two pars and was 1 down heading to the 18th tee.

“I was 4 up quickly and all of the emotion of the day got to me,” said McCready, who won his second-round match, 3 and 1, earlier in the day. “I got a little complacent.”

McCready, in his first year of eligibility for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, pushed his approach shot into the right greenside bunker on No. 18, but then hit a “once-in- a-lifetime” shot with his 58-degree sand wedge. The ball landed barely onto the green and rolled to within six inches of the hole, ending Valois’ comeback attempt.

“There’s nothing better,” he said. “That’s why you practice. I proved a lot to myself with that shot.”

Michael McCoy, 50, of West Des Moines, Iowa, was a 2-and-1 winner over Zach Atkinson, 31, of Hurst, Texas in the third round. McCoy won holes 12, 13, and 14 with two pars and a birdie to break open a tight match. He rolled in a 20-footer on the 449-yard, par-4 14th for a birdie and a 2- up lead.

“It’s always good to be still standing at the end of the day,” said McCoy, who also defeated his second-round opponent, 4 and 2.

Todd Mitchell, the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up, also won two matches in reaching the quarterfinals for the second time. The 35-year-old from Bloomington, Ill. defeated John Engler, 34, of Augusta, Ga., 3 and 2, in the third round. Mitchell had four birdies, including Nos. 9 and 10 when he took a 3-up lead.

Bradley Bastion, 28, of Clinton Township, Mich., Ken Tanigawa, 45, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Matt Schneider, 25, of Grand Rapids, Minn., also advanced to the quarterfinals. Schneider won his third-round match in 19 holes.

Results For U.S. Mid-Amateur Golf Championship
WinIAMike McCoyW. Des Moines, IA1000
Runner-upOHBill WilliamsonCincinnati, OH700
SemifinalsNVKevin MarshHenderson, NV500
SemifinalsCAKenneth McCreadyPlacerville, CA500
QuarterfinalsAZMatt SchneiderChandler, AZ400

View full results for U.S. Mid-Amateur Golf Championship

ABOUT THE U.S. Mid-Amateur

The U.S. Mid-Amateur originated in 1981 for the amateur golfer of at least 25 years of age, the purpose of which to provide a formal national championship for the post-college player. 264 players begin the championship with two rounds of sroke play qualifying held at two courses, after which the low 64 (with a playoff if necessary to get the exact number) advance to single elimination match play.

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