ROCKVILLE, MD (June 12, 2005) -- It took eight holes for Mike Mitchell to get his game in gear, but once he got rolling, there was no stopping him. The Columbia Country Club member won the eight hole, was 6 up at the end of the first round, and cruised to a 10-and-8 victory over two-time champion (and also former Maryland Mid-Amateur Champion) Dave Rasley in the 84th Maryland Amateur championship at Norbeck Country Club, June 12.
Rasley, 57, who won only one hole, the fifth in the afternoon, said afterwards, "I could have played my best and not won." The two had played together in Thursday's qualifying round, and Rasley played very well in shooting 70, runnerup to medalist James Jew, Norbeck CC, 69. Mitchell, who was just warming to his task, posted 73.
Mitchell shot 2-under-par 69 for the morning round (to 75 for Rasley), then was 2 under for the 10 afternoon holes. The winning margin was the second highest in tournament history, exceeded only by Gary Marlowe's 11-and-9 triumph over Butch Clemmens in 1979 at Green Spring Valley Hunt Club.
No. 8, stretched out to a 490-yard par-4, was a key hole for both players. In his sixth visit to the hole during the tournament weekend, Rasley finally parred it for the first time with a chip and a putt, only to have Mitchell follow with a 25-foot birdie putt from just off the front edge.
"I started out hitting the ball well, had some good birdie opportunities, but made no putts," Mitchell said. "Then, I finally made a putt at the eighth -- straight up hill from 25 feet. I didn't realize it at the time, but that got me going."
Rasley, a Four Streams member, said, "I finally par [No.] eight for the first time, and he banged his putt right in. "[In that kind of situation] You just play the next shot as well as you can. For me, I did not play well. There were not enough quality shots. I did not put any pressure on him. He's such a long hitter, I was usually hitting first and he never had to see a ball close to the hole. And then I didn't putt well all day. Pitiful." Rasley, a three-time qualifier for the US Senior Open, also has been bothered by health problems in recent years, including ankle surgery and recurring pain from a muscular problem in his back.
The disparity between the two was magnified by Mitchell saying, "Once I got the lead, I somehow avoided any mistakes. I was steady and consistent." Although only 25 years old, Mitchell has been a notable player for at least ten years, qualifying for four US Amateurs and winning two Metropolitan Amateurs and a Maryland Open as well two Frank Emmet Schoolboy Championships. He is now looking forward to a spirited defense of the Metropolitan Amateur at Congressional Country Club in July.
For complete bracket results, click on the tournament link above (amateurgolf.com membership required).