-Photos courtesy of the USGA
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (September 7, 2014) — Scott Harvey (pictured right), 36, of Greensboro, N.C., and Brad Nurski (left), 35, of St. Joseph, Mo., took different paths on their way to sharing medalist honors Sunday at the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, held at Saucon Valley Country Club. Each player posted a two-round total of 1-under 141.
Harvey, the first-round leader with a 65, lost his five-stroke lead after beginning his second round with a double bogey and two bogeys. He regrouped with birdies on two of his last four holes for a 76 in the afternoon at the par-71, 7,068-yard Weyhill Course. Nurski caught fire on the inward nine of his morning round with birdies on four of his last eight holes at the par-71, 7,036-yard Old Course layout. He finished with a 1-under 70.
“It is an honor to be a co-medalist,” said Harvey, who was a 2010 Mid-Amateur quarterfinalist and also shared stroke-play medalist honors that year. “I was very pleased with the way that I came back and grinded on the back nine today to put myself in this position.”
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. 11, starting at 7 a.m. EDT.
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.
Harvey, a real estate property manager whose first-round performance was one stroke off the competitive course record, was 7 over par and three shots behind the leader at one point during the second round. He would later birdie the par-3 sixth and 568-yard, par-5 eighth to regain a share of the lead.
“I just started hitting fairways,” he said. “I missed a short putt on the first hole that kind of got my nerves a little bit rattled and it took me a few holes to calm down. I just put my head down and moved forward and did what I had to do.”
Nurski, a railroad conductor and switchman, finished off his late rally by sinking a 25-foot birdie putt from the front fringe on No. 18. He combined for five birdies and four bogeys.
“It’s an honor to tie for first out of 264 guys,” he said. “It’s always your goal to shoot as low as you possibly can and beat everybody. Now you only have to beat two people – the guy in your match and the golf course.”
Nurski struck a 9-iron to within 5 feet on the 176-yard, par-3 11th to begin his run. He added another birdie on No. 13 by hitting a flop shot over a bunker to set up a 6-foot putt. Nurski sank a 25-footer on the par-5 15th to complete an up-and-down from a greenside bunker.
“I just needed to slow down,” said Nurski about making a couple of bogeys on his outward nine. “[My caddie] said I rushing it a little bit, so I just took my time and started taking some better swings and putted pretty well.”
Bill Williamson, 37, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was alone at even-par 142 after shooting 1-over 72 at Weyhill. Williamson, last year’s Mid-Amateur runner-up, made four birdies and five bogeys.
“It’s a hard golf course,” he said. “The pin positions were tough. These were long [courses] and they played longer with the rains we had last night.”
Kevin Marsh, who won the 2005 Mid-Amateur, played steady golf at the Old Course and made every putt within 6 feet, including one for a par at his finishing hole. The 42-year-old from Henderson, Nev., registered two birdies and one bogey for a 1-under 70 and tied for fifth with a 36-hole score of 143.
“The greens are lot trickier out here (Old Course), there’s a lot more undulation so you have to be careful,” said Marsh about the difference in the two stroke-play courses. “You have to hit more drivers. There are some hard holes here.”
Kenny Ebalo, 31, of Las Vegas, Nev., joined Marsh at 1-over 143 in his second U.S. Mid-Amateur appearance. He admittedly got ahead of himself with bogeys on three of his last five holes and finished the round with a 73.
Todd White, 46, of Spartanburg, S.C., birdied his first two holes and then made a par-saving 10-foot putt en route to an even-par 71 at Weyhill. White, who carded a 73 in the first round and was tied with two other players at 3-over 144, reached the Mid-Amateur quarterfinals in 2012 and was a member of last year’s winning USA Walker Cup Team.
Nathan Smith, a four-time Mid-Amateur champion who has played on three USA Walker Cup Teams, also made a late birdie on Weyhill’s par-5 eighth, his 17th hole, to shoot 1-over 72. Smith, a 36-year-old from Pittsburgh who reached the quarterfinals at last month’s U.S. Amateur, posted a 76 in the first round.
“I knew I had to play well today, both courses are so tough, so you’re just not sure if you will have it out there,” said Smith, who has now advanced to match play in all 10 of his Mid-Amateur appearances. “I shot 72, that’s as good as I could have played.”
Defending U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Michael McCoy, 51, of West Des Moines, Iowa, registered a two-round total of 149 to reach match play. McCoy, who was the low amateur at this year’s U.S. Senior Open, was one of five past Mid-Amateur winners to advance.
Matthew Mattare, who reached the 2012 Mid-Amateur quarterfinals and was the stroke-play medalist last year, made a birdie on his last hole, the Old Course’s par-4 18th, to safely gain a spot in match play. Mattare, 28, of Jersey City, N.J., sank a 9-foot putt from left of the hole. He carded a pair of 74s.
“It’s all about getting to the (match play) bracket,” said Mattare, whose father, Gene, is Saucon Valley’s general manager and director of golf. “I feel confident going up against anybody playing this course.”
Sixteen players who tied for 62nd place at 9-over 151 will play off for the final three match-play berths. The playoff will start on Monday at 7 a.m. EDT and be conducted at the Weyhill Course.