RIVER HILLS Wisc. (Sept. 7, 2008) – Skip Berkmeyer, 34, of St. Louis, Mo., shot a 1-over-par 71 Sunday to earn stroke-play medalist honors with a 36-hole total of 2-under-par 138 at the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Milwaukee Country Club and Brown Deer Park Golf Course.
Berkmeyer, who played his round at the 7,004-yard, par-70 Milwaukee CC, edged Tim Mickelson, 31, of San Diego, Calif., by a stroke. Mickelson, the younger brother of PGA Tour pro Phil Mickelson, bogeyed his last two holes at Milwaukee CC to finish with an even-par 70 and a two-round total of 139.
“It’s great,” said Berkmeyer of being medalist. “To be the lowest guy in this big field is a pretty neat thing.”
Mickelson was more realistic after three-putting each of the last two greens.
“I don’t care if I’m No. 1 or No. 64,” said Mickelson, who was a quarterfinalist in 2007. “My mission was to make match play and my mission was accomplished. I’m playing well, but I’m just not putting all that well.”
Two-time winner Tim Jackson, 49, of Germantown, Tenn., who was the first-day leader with a 5-under 65, and Derek Berg, 27, of Duval, Wash., finished at even-par 140. Jackson slipped to a 75 Sunday at the 6,728-yard, par-70 Brown Deer Park Golf Course, while Berg had a 70 at Milwaukee CC.
Past champion Nathan Smith (2003), 30, of Pittsburgh, Pa., was one of four to finish at 1-over-par 141.
Skip Corneliussen, 26, of Charlotte, N.C., was the only player to post a sub-par round on either course Sunday. His 1-under-par 69 at Brown Deer Park put him at 7-over 147 for 36 holes, good enough to get him into a 19-man playoff Monday morning at Brown Deer Park to determine the final 14 spots for match play.
The lowest 64 scorers advanced to match play Monday at Milwaukee CC. The championship is scheduled to run through Thursday, with the winner receiving a likely invitation to the 2009 Masters Tournament.
The oldest player to advance to match play is 61-year-old Greg Reynolds of Grand Blanc, Mich., the 2002 USGA Senior Amateur champion. Reynolds safely advanced with a 3-over total of 143. Another player in at 143 is Jordan Byrd, 32, of Clemson, S.C., a quarterfinalist from a year ago who will have his younger brother and PGA Tour pro Jonathan as his caddie starting Monday.
Berkmeyer, who is playing in his fifth Mid-Amateur, has advanced further in match play with each succeeding year. His best finish was a third-round loss in last year’s Mid-Amateur at Bandon Dunes Resort in Bandon, Ore. He lost in the second round in 2006 and the first round in 2004. He also has played in seven U.S. Amateurs.
There are signs that Berkmeyer has what it takes to last longer this week than in the past. He was one of only six mid-amateurs to reach match play at last month’s U.S. Amateur. He also was runner-up at the 2008 Missouri State Amateur, an event he won in 1999.
“I’ve played well all summer, and I’m pretty pleased,” said Berkmeyer, who owns a trophy and awards shop with his father, Rick. “My game has gotten better as I’ve gotten older. Hopefully, it will get better this week.
“I feel now like I belong and I’m more comfortable out here,” Berkmeyer continued. “This is my favorite event. This is what I play for.”
His mother has enjoyed even more success at USGA championships to this point. Barbara, 64, was runner-up at the 2002 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur.
The Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
--Story by Craig Smith, USGA