RIVER HILLS Wisc. (Sept. 9, 2008) – A par on the 23rd hole during Tuesday morning’s second round of the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Milwaukee Country Club was enough to allow Steve White, 36, of Jackson, Wyo., to escape with a victory over Jordan Byrd, 32, of Clemson, S.C.
Byrd, who had his younger brother, PGA Tour player Jonathan Byrd serving as his caddie, and White both struggled throughout the match. Byrd was the equivalent of seven over par and White was four over, with the usual match-play concessions.
“It was a pillow fight out there,” said Byrd. “Neither one of us was playing very well.”
Byrd, the assistant golf coach at Clemson University, missed a 5-footer for par on No. 23 – the par-4 fifth hole – that would have extended the match.
“It just hurts because I didn’t play real well,” said Byrd, a 2007 Mid-Amateur quarterfinalist. “I had some opportunities to get the lead, but I missed my chances. I just wish I had been sharp.”
White’s third-round opponent Tuesday afternoon will be Chris Lange of Bryn Mawr, Pa., who advanced with a 1-up victory over stroke-play medalist Skip Berkmeyer, 34, of St. Louis, Mo.
Lange, at 53 the oldest remaining competitor in the field, admitted he didn’t expect to find himself in the round of 16.
“I’m on vacation with my wife, so we are just taking in the city,” said Lange. “This is a bonus, and somewhat surprising. It was just my day today. When I got here, I had nothing. Then I found something with my putter. I just hope I can keep it going.”
Also eliminated Tuesday morning was Tim Mickelson, 31, of San Diego, Calif., the younger brother of three-time PGA Tour major champion Phil.
Like Byrd, Mickelson blamed shaky play for his 1-up defeat to Michael Stamberger, 36, of Plainfield, N.J.
“I just hit the ball awful today,” said Mickelson, a Mid-Amateur quarterfinalist a year ago. “I played like a high school kid. I didn’t hit the ball very well today. If I had played two or three over par, I would have taken care of business.”
Sean Knapp, 46, of Oakmont, Pa., made a 5-footer for par on the 18th hole to earn a 1-up victory over Ryan McDonald of Rocklin, Calif.
Knapp, a veteran of more than 20 USGA championships, hopes to return to the Mid-Amateur quarterfinals for the fourth time.
“At the end of the day, you understand the preciousness of being in this environment,” said Knapp, who lost to Tiger Woods in the quarterfinals of the 1995 U.S. Amateur. “With each passing time, it’s more important to seize the moment. And that adds a little bit more pressure to everything.”
Leading the other second-round winners was Jeff Wilson, 45, of Fairfield, Calif., who earned a 3-and-2 victory over Ricky Jones of Thomston, Maine. Wilson, the low amateur at the 2000 U.S. Open and a 2008 U.S. Open qualifier, is a two-time Mid-Amateur semifinalist.
Play continues with the third-round matches Tuesday afternoon. After the quarterfinals and semifinals on Wednesday, the championship concludes with Thursday’s 36-hole final, with the winner receiving a likely invitation to the 2009 Masters Tournament.
The Mid-Amateur, open to players 25 and over, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
--Story written by Beth Murrison, USGA