BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Oct. 10, 2013) – Michael McCoy, 50, of West Des Moines, Iowa, took an early lead against Bill Williamson, 36, of Cincinnati, and went on to post an 8-and-6 victory Thursday and win the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, held at the par-71, 7,173-yard Country Club of Birmingham’s West Course.
McCoy, who won his first USGA championship in a career that spans more than 30 years, registered the third-highest win margin since the Mid-Amateur went to a 36-hole final in 2001
“I’m very thrilled to finally have won a championship,” said McCoy, the second-oldest Mid-Amateur champion behind Randal Lewis who was 54 in 2011. “I’ve been trying for a long time. I really chased the dream. And it kind of came true today.”
McCoy, who twice before advanced to the U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinals in 2005 and 2008, built a 5-up lead after the morning 18 holes and was in control throughout. He won the 23rd and 24th holes, the par-4 sixth and par-4 seventh, in the afternoon, to extend his lead to 8-up. McCoy made a pair of two-putt pars while Williamson’s mistakes led to consecutive bogeys.
“Mike did what he had to do,” said Williamson, who like McCoy was playing in his first USGA championship final. “He’s such a good player. I wish I would have played a little bit more of my game. I don’t know if I would have won, but it probably would have been more competitive.”
McCoy used his short game to stay out of the trouble. He got up and down from behind the 27th hole, the 321-yard, par-4 ninth, by pitching from heavy grass to within 4 feet to halve hole. McCoy saved par on the following hole, the par-5 10th, by nearly making a 45-footer with his putter from a closely-mown area. He continued at the next hole when he made a sand save for par from a left greenside bunker.
“Putting is one of those things, some weeks you have it and some weeks you don’t,” said McCoy, who earned a 10-year exemption to the U.S. Mid-Amateur, a two-year exemption to the U.S. Amateur and a likely 2014 Masters Tournament invitation with the victory. “When I stepped foot on the property, everything seemed to feel pretty good, the speed, my hands were soft, and I felt the ball rolling off – coming off the putter nicely.”
He claimed the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Trophy on the 30th hole of the match, the par-4 12th, when he spun a wedge to within 3 feet. He was conceded the birdie putt, his fourth of the day, when Williamson took three shots to get onto the green.
McCoy, the ninth seed in the match-play bracket following stroke-play qualifying, recovered from a triple-bogey 7 on the first hole of the morning round by winning three consecutive holes (Nos. 4, 5 and 6). His 4½-foot birdie putt fell in from the right side on the 547-yard, par-5 fourth before he made a 13-footer for a par on the fifth. McCoy took a 2-up advantage on the par-4 sixth with a downhill 6-foot birdie putt.
McCoy, who was playing in his 38th USGA championship, including 14 U.S. Mid-Amateurs, increased his lead at the drivable par-4 12th. He laid up off the tee and hit his approach shot to with 6 feet for his third birdie of the morning. Williamson found a mound on the left side of the green with his tee shot and pitched to 8 feet. But he missed his birdie attempt to the left.
Williamson, whose previous best Mid-Amateur performance was advancing to the Round of 16 in 2006, had to make par putts on Nos. 14 and 15 to stay close. Each player got into trouble with their second shots on the par-5 15th. McCoy saved par with a 15-footer from just off the back of the green. Williamson countered by getting up-and-down from the front left greenside bunker.
McCoy, who played in this year’s U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Amateur, won the last two holes of the morning to forge a commanding lead. After driving into the rough, Williamson missed the green to the left with his approach that left him in area just off the putting surface. His third shot did not make the green and resulted in a bogey. On the par-4 18th, McCoy nestled a 40-foot putt from the back fringe to tap-in range for a par, while Williamson missed a 10-footer to halve the hole.
“I was trying to get as many up as I could,” said McCoy, a 10-time Iowa player of the year who is No. 320 in World Amateur Golf Ranking. “You don’t know what’s going to happen in these matches. I’ve won matches where I’ve been four down. So I knew there was a lot of golf to be played.”
For Williamson, it was a bittersweet round. The championship’s third seed made 25 birdies in stroke play and match play prior to today but none in the final against McCoy.
“I didn’t play as well as I wanted,” said Williamson, a 2010 Ohio Amateur runner-up who found the rough on many occasions off the tee and had 10 bogeys and one double bogey in the final. “I didn’t putt as well as I wanted. The greens were tough and the pins were in tough spots. The ball just didn’t go in.”
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.