RIVER HILLS, Wisc. (Sept. 8, 2008)--Jordan Byrd, 32, of Clemson, S.C., and Tim Mickelson, 31, of San Diego, Calif., the brothers of notable PGA Tour pros, were among the 32 players to win first-round matches Monday in the rain at the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Milwaukee Country Club.
Byrd, the assistant men’s golf coach at Clemson, took the lead for good at the third hole on the 7,004-yard, par-70 layout, and defeated Ron Ewing, 40, of Merced, Calif., 3 & 2. Mickelson, the head coach at the University of San Diego and Phil Mickelson’s younger brother, holed a 5-foot putt on the last hole to edge Scott Kammann, 35, of Baneberry, Tenn., 1 up.
Byrd will now face Clemson graduate Steve White, 36, of Jackson, Wyo., who won the last two holes to edge 2002 USGA Senior Amateur champion Greg Reynolds, 61, of Grand Blanc, Mich., 1-up. Mickelson will face Michael Stamberger, 36, of Plainfield, N.J., who beat Brian Haskell, 42, of St. Joseph, Mo., 5 & 4.
“I hit some good quality shots, especially early in the round,” said Byrd, who was 4-up through 12. “I made some really good putts. I won this match with my putter.”
Byrd enjoyed his win even more with his younger brother, Jonathan, on the bag. Jonathan flew in Sunday night after playing on Tour to caddie for Jordan the rest of the way.
“He’ll be a lot more help to me tomorrow now that he has seen the course. He has to learn to speed up a bit though,” Jordan said with a laugh. “But he had a lot of work to do. It seemed like I hit it in a bunker on every other hole.”
Like Byrd, Mickelson thought his putter made the difference.
“My putter didn’t let me down, especially at the end,” said Mickelson, who has alternated between a belly putter and a conventional putter over the last five years. “I felt like we both played pretty solid in those conditions. I believe I was one over par.
“Hopefully, I’ve got five more wins in me.”
Four amateurgolf.com members are still in the hunt for the title.
Recent Trans-Mississippi Mid-Am champ Mike McCoy had the most resounding victory, topping Michael Harrington 6 & 5, while Randy Haag had the toughest match, squeaking out a 1-up win over Jeff Williams.
Also advancing was Jeff Wilson (2 & 1 over Chris Noel) and Mark Scheibach (3 & 2 over Scott Fawcett).
Play continues with the second- and third-round matches on Tuesday. The championship runs through Thursday’s 36-hole final, with the winner receiving a likely invitation to the 2009 Masters Tournament.
Medalist and top-seeded Skip Berkmeyer, 34, of St. Louis, Mo., safely advanced with a win against Dan Horner, 30, of Sandy, Utah, 3 & 2. Berkmeyer was the low scorer for 36 holes of stroke play at 2-under-par 138.
“In a word, I survived,” Berkmeyer said. “I chipped and putted pretty well, but it was difficult. It was a difficult day for everyone (because of the rain, which was heavy at times during the afternoon). But, I think it was more me than the weather.”
Steve Galko, 34, of Dallas, Texas, scored the most lopsided win Monday. Galko, a member of the Texas team that won the 2005 USGA Men’s State Team title, won the first five holes and closed out his match against Brooks Freeman of Midwest City, Okla., 7 & 6.
The oldest player to advance was 53-year-old Chris Lange of Bryn Mawr, Pa. Lange birdied the par-3 eighth hole to take the lead and went on to defeat Matthew Clarke of Loudonville, N.Y., 3 & 2.
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 written by Craig Smith, USGA