BANDON, Ore. (Oct. 1, 2007)-- Three past champions were among the 25 winners in the first round of match play at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Monday on the namesake course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Kevin Marsh (2005) of Las Vegas, Nev., Danny Green (1999) of Jackson, Tenn., Nathan Smith (2003) of Pittsburgh, Pa., each advanced. Some, however, did so with more ease than others.
Other winners included Tim Mickelson of San Diego, Calif., and Jordan Byrd of Clemson, S.C., both brothers of professional golfers, two-time USA Walker Cup player Buddy Marucci of Villanova, Pa., Pat Talent of Vienna, Va., who has been low amateur in a Senior Open, and Tim Hogarth of Northridge, Calif., the 1996 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion. The quickest to the finish line, however, was Scott Hardy of Pleasant Hill, Calif., a semifinalist a year ago, who won by a margin of 7 and 5 and was the equivalent of three under par for 13 holes.
Play was suspended because of darkness with seven matches still unfinished. They will re-start at 7:30 a.m. PT Tuesday.
Marsh won the first four holes on his way to an easy 6 & 5 win over Doug Stiles of Athens, Ga. Conversely, Green came from behind to win his match with a winning par on the second extra hole against Stan Payne of Little Rock, Ark. And Smith, who survived a six-hole playoff to earn the last spot for match play, two-putted from 40-yards away on the final hole to edge past champion George Zahringer.
“You can’t have expectations in match play,” said Marsh, who was ousted in the second round as defending champion a year ago. “I learned my lesson last year. You have to accept that some days it’s going to be your day and some days it’s not. No one can come here and play great for eight days in a row.
“I’m hitting the ball as well as I ever have, and I don’t want to leave this beautiful place. That’s my momentum, in addition to making two birdies on my final two holes yesterday when I was almost down the road.”
Both Marsh and Green finished their weather-delayed second round of stroke play Monday before gaining a berth in the 64-player match-play field.
Green played 29 holes in all Monday, but the last hole was his most important. He made the three-foot putt that put him in Tuesday’s second round of match play. Before that, he had rallied with birdies on two of the three closing holes of regulation.
“I might not be the best player, but I can get the ball in the hole when I have too,” said Green after the win.
“I played so good on the front and then I let him back in the match with double bogeys on holes 10, 11 and 12. He probably should have put me away on 18, but I’ve always said, ‘it’s easier to make a putt to tie than a putt to win.’”
Smith putted from far off the green in links-style fashion for the first time all week at the 18th, and it worked better than he expected. It stopped two feet past the hole.
“I learned the hard way this week,” said Smith. “I usually use my 56 degree wedge from there, but around here you have to putt everything like that. I never tried to putt a ball from that far off the green before.”
Zahringer was one of two past champions who lost Monday. Austin Eaton of North Sutton, N.H., the 2004 champion, lost to Jarrett Grimes of Columbia, S.C., 3 & 2.
--Story by Craig Smith, USGA