RIVER HILLS, Wisc. (Sept. 9, 2008) – It wasn’t easy, but Chris Lange of Bryn Mawr, Pa., and Michael Stamberger of Plainfield, N.J., both won two matches Tuesday at the par-70, 7,004-yard Milwaukee Country Club to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
Lange trailed 4-down after 13 holes against Steve White, 36, of Jackson, Wyo., but came back to win four of the next five holes to square the match. A two-putt for par on the 19th hole allowed Lange to complete the comeback.
Perseverance was the key for Lange, at 53 the oldest remaining competitor in the field.
“I was cooked but I didn’t give up,” said Lange, who earlier in the day ousted stroke-play medalist Skip Berkmeyer of St. Louis. Mo. “I got a couple of breaks along the way coming in. I don’t think I’ve won one like that before.”
Stamberger was in just as much trouble, losing the first five holes to Ty Cox, 31, of Fort Worth, Texas. But Cox bogeyed four consecutive holes starting at No. 7 to allow Stamberger back into the match.
After squaring the match with a par on the 17th, Stamberger hit his approach shot on No. 18 from 200 yards to 15 feet. Cox hit his approach shot in the bunker and missed his par putt from 25 feet, allowing Stamberger to safely two-putt for the 1-up victory.
“That was something,” said the 36-year-old Stamberger, who eliminated Tim Mickelson, brother of PGA Tour player Phil, in the morning’s second round. “I don’t know what to say there. That’s not like me. I usually have a tendency to fold it in and I just hung in there and it just worked out.”
Unlike Lange and Stamberger, who reached the quarterfinals for the first time, a trio of players once again successfully advanced past the third round at a U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Jeff Wilson, 45, of Fairfield, Calif., advanced to the Mid-Amateur quarterfinals for the fifth time with a 3 & 1 win over Steve Galko of Dallas, Texas. Wilson, who advanced to the semifinals in 2002 and 2003, was the low amateur at the 2000 U.S. Open who also qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open.
Wilson’s quarterfinal opponent will be Mike McCoy, 45, of West Des Moines, Iowa., who earned a 4-and-2 win over Adam Dooley, Albany, Minn. McCoy, a semifinalist at the 2005 U.S. Mid-Am, has yet to play past the 16th hole at the 2008 championship.
Sean Knapp, 46, of Oakmont, Pa., advanced to the quarterfinals for the fourth time with a 1-up win over Josh Gregory of Augusta, Ga. Knapp made a 4-footer for par on No. 18 to win the hole and the match. It was the second consecutive match where Knapp, a veteran of more than 20 USGA championships, made a par putt on the final hole for the victory.
“The putter has been my friend most of my life,” said Knapp, who lost to Tiger Woods in the quarterfinals of the 1995 U.S. Amateur.
Play continues with 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