-- story courtesy Middle Atlantic Golf Association
BETHESDA, Maryland (Oct 7, 2007) -- Michael Muehr, backed by solid experience as an amateur and a professional, wrapped up his first major golf title since regaining his amateur status in July, when he posted a 1-over-over par 72 for a 72-hole total of 284, and a three-stroke victory in the 101st MAGA Amateur championship at Congressional Country Club, Oct. 7. Muehr, from Potomac Falls, Va., was followed by Vance Welch, Cross Creek GC, who birdied the last hole for 74-287. Dan Hurley. from Leesburg, Va., who had led after each of the first three rounds, finished 77-288. The 7,071-yard course in Bethesda played to a par of 35-36--71 in unseasonably warm weather all four days.
Muehr began the last round one shot behind Hurley and one ahead of Welch. Nine holes later, Welch birdied the 10th, but fell back with bogeys at 11-12, and Hurley slipped away when he double-bogeyed 14 and bogeyed 15. Meanwhile, Muehr began a stretch of four birdies in nine holes (Nos. 8-16) that helped boost him to a five-stroke advantage on Hurley, six on Welch, through No. 16. Bogeys at the last holes served only to reduce his winning margin. "I think I lost my focus on those last two," Muehr said of missing the final two greens and failing to save par. Of the birdies, he reached the green in two and two-putted at the 507-yard 11th. made it from 20 feet at the 14th, and three feet at the 16th, the second par-5 on the back.
Given his tournament experience, Muehr, 35, and now working as a sports agent, was asked about the effect it had on his game. "It's a posaitive if you can channel it, but here, I think it became a negative for awhile because I had such high expectations. I haven't played much golf lately [although he did qualify for the U.S. Amateur in late August, missing a playoff for the match-play field by a stroke], and maybe my expectations were too high. There were a lot of great players in this field." Muehr, who played on the PGA Tour in 2001-02, and mini-tours before and after, was never in the lead until the final round, trailing by five and by six before vaulting into contention with a third-round 68.
Hurley, 22, brother of Billy Hurley, who won this event in 2004, opened with a 67 Thursday to lead by four, and was two ahead of Jonathan Orchin, Washington, D.C. halfway through. A two-hour fog delay prior to the opening round, set play back a couple of hours, so that the first and second rounds were both suspended because of darkness.
A May graduate of George Mason University, Hurley began on the back nine, going birdie-eagle, then added a couple of birdies in his tour. Where he had putted well Thursday on greens that received good notices, it did not go as well Friday, where he had three birdies and three bogeys (all three-putts).
Welch almost missed his third-round tee time after playing seven holes earlier in the day to complete his second round. He left the site between the rounds and upon his return and checking on his tee time, discovered he had just moments to spare. The result was a mad dash to the first tee.
NOTES -- The cut fell at 153 from a starting field of 144, and 67 players advanced. . .The other daily low rounds besides Hurley's 67, and Muehr's 68, went to Tim Kelley, Ashland, Va., who followed an opening 82 with a 68; and Skip Zobel, Virginia Beach, Va., a last-round 68 that got him into 10th place in the final standings. . . Schoolboys play in this event by invitation only and there were six junior invitees this year with three making the cut: Denny McCarthy, 14, from Burtonsville, 297; Joe Rice, 17, Dunkirk, 298, and Wes Strang, 15, Bethesda, 307. . .This marked the seventh time Congressional CC had served as host of the championship. The previous years, with winners, were 1928 - Harry Pitt; 1937 - Billy Shea; 1962 - Deane Beman; 1970 - Roger McManus; 1980 - Marty West, and 1998 - Allen Barber.
Final results will be posted soon.