BETHLEHEM, Penn (Sept 10, 2014) — Scott Harvey, 36, of Greensboro, N.C., and Brad Nurski, 35, of St. Joseph, Mo., each won quarterfinal and semifinal matches Wednesday to advance to Thursday’s 36-hole final match at the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, being contested at the par-71, 7,076-yard Saucon Valley Country Club’s Old Course. The final is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. EDT.
The championship match will feature the top two seeds for the first time since 2010. Harvey, the No. 1 seed, and Nurski, the No. 2 seed, were co-medalists in stroke-play qualifying.
Harvey won five consecutive holes in the middle of his semifinal match to post a 3-and-2 victory over Kevin Marsh, the 2005 Mid-Amateur champion. Harvey had an easier time in the quarterfinals when he defeated Denver Haddix, 34, of Lexington, Ky., 7 and 6.
“This is where (the championship) I have put myself in my mind,” said Harvey, whose previous best Mid-Amateur performance was a quarterfinal appearance in 2010. “I am where I want to be and feel like I should be. Hopefully, I can take advantage of it.”
Nurski edged Tom Werkmeister, 46, of Kentwood, Mich., in 19 holes to advance to the final. He registered a 1-up victory over Todd White, 46, of Spartanburg, S.C., in the quarterfinals.
“Getting to the final two is an unbelievable accomplishment,” said Nurski, who like Harvey will play in his first USGA championship final. “We just have to come out and play our game tomorrow, stay aggressive and make some putts.”
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, went ahead for good in the semifinals when he drove the green on the 309-yard, par-4 eighth hole to set up a conceded 25-foot eagle putt. Marsh, 41, of Henderson, Nev., found the right greenside bunker with his tee shot, leading to a bogey.
Harvey made back-to-back birdies at holes 9 and 10 to extend his lead to 3 up. He rifled a 204-yard, 5-iron to within 3 feet below the hole at the par-3 ninth and the putt was eventually conceded. After hitting his tee shot on No. 10 into the left rough, he worked his 136-yard approach shot to within 2 feet.
“Those were great swings,” said Harvey, who is competing in his seventh consecutive U.S. Mid-Amateur. “Nine was the best swing I made all week. It just came off the way exactly how you want it. At impact, you just know it’s going to be pretty close.”
Harvey, who is ranked No. 109 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, moved to 4 up on the par-3 11th with a two-putt par after Marsh missed the green to the right with a wayward tee shot.
“I was really in control of the match through six and not getting it up and down at seven from a pretty easy spot hurt,” said Marsh, who also reached the semifinals last year. “That just kind of started the hemorrhage.”
Werkmeister, who was playing in his fifth U.S. Mid-Amateur, squared his semifinal match with Nurski on the par-4 16th when he made an 8-foot par putt. Nurski missed the green right with his approach, left his first chip short and then lipped out his second chip for a bogey.
The players halved the next two holes with pars which led to the eighth extra-hole match of the championship. Nurski found the left fairway bunker on the par-5 first off the tee but was later able to get his approach to the front the green resulting in a two-putt par. Meanwhile, Werkmeister, who had advanced past the Round of 64 for the first time, hit his third shot into the right greenside bunker, leading to a bogey.
“I’m excited, but terribly disappointed right now,” said Werkmeister, who had a makeable birdie putt on No. 17 and missed a 5-foot par putt on the first extra hole. “A lot of positives came out of it, but right now it’s kind of hard to think about that.”
Nurski, a left-handed player who is competing in his second Mid-Amateur but first since 2008, never led until he squared the match on No. 13 by getting up and down for birdie from a greenside bunker and went in front when Werkmeister had a three-putt bogey on the following hole.
“If you don’t have your ‘A’ game and you are not hitting fairways, you just have to will a par,” said Nurski, a railroad conductor and switchman. “You have to hang in there and that’s what I did all day.”
Nurski, who is ranked No. 3,994 in the WAGR, holed out a 30-yard bunker shot for a birdie on the par-4 12th for a 2-up lead in his quarterfinal match. White, the No. 7 seed and a 2012 Mid-Amateur semifinalist, cut the deficit in half with a birdie on No. 13, but missed an opportunity to force extra holes when he failed to convert a 4-footer for another birdie on No. 18.
Harvey was in control right from the start in his quarterfinal against Haddix, who was not at full strength after aggravating a persistent shoulder injury during the match. Harvey won seven of the nine holes on the outward nine and made birdies on Nos. 8 and 9. He had a two-putt birdie on the drivable par-4 eighth and hit his tee shot to 12 feet at the par-3 ninth.
In the quarterfinals, Marsh used the flagstick to his advantage for the second consecutive day when he won in 19 holes. Marsh, who defeated four-time Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith in the Round of 32 when he made a 40-footer that hit the flagstick, repeated that feat against Patrick Christovich, 36, of New Orleans, La. His 65-foot chip from off the green hit the stick squarely and led to a winning 5-foot birdie putt.
“It was unbelievable,” Marsh said. “It’s that thick grass and it’s growing right into me. I debated putting it with my hybrid. I thinned it and fortunately it (the flagstick) got in the way.”
The semifinalists receive a two-year exemption into the U.S. Mid-Amateur. The 2015 championship will be played at John’s Island Club, in Vero Beach, Fla.
Both finalists are exempt into the 2015 U.S. Amateur, held at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club, and are locally exempted into 2015 U.S. Open sectional qualifying. The champion also receives a likely invitation to the 2015 Masters.