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USGA Mid-Am: Def Champ Eaton gone in round three

CHATTANOOGA, TN (September 13, 2005) -- Kevin Marsh of Las Vegas, Nev., ended the title defense hopes of reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Austin Eaton III of North Sutton, N.H., with a 3-and-2 victory during Tuesday’s third round at the 25th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, being held at the par-72, 7,037-yard Honors Course.

Marsh, 32, who also reached the Mid-Am quarterfinals a year ago, benefited from four double bogeys from Eaton. Marsh had his own struggles, finishing at five over par.

“The frustrating thing today is I was just hitting my driver so bad,” said Marsh. “It’s one thing if you’re hitting it crooked. But if you’re not hitting it solid, this is not a golf course where you can do that. If Austin had been playing halfway decent, he would have killed me today.”

Already three holes down, Eaton thought he had a good chance to cut the deficit on the par-3 12th when he made a 12-foot birdie putt. But Marsh answered with his own birdie putt, from 7 feet. On the next hole, Eaton was able to get one back when Marsh bogeyed. He thought he might get another on the par-3 14th when Marsh hit his tee shot in the rough short of the green and had to chip up and two-putted. But the hole was halved after Eaton three-putted from 30 feet.

After the two traded pars on No. 15, Eaton, hitting first, watched his tee shot on the par-3 16th splash into the water hazard. Marsh was safely on the green and after Eaton just missed his 20-foot bogey putt, he conceded Marsh’s par putt, and the match. Eaton, who was trying to join Jim Stuart (1990 and 1991) as just the second player to successfully defend his title, finished the match nine over par.

“I’m really disappointed,” he said. “But I didn’t play well enough and he did. Barely. It was a war of attrition out there. I hit so many dumb, bad shots. I didn’t deserve to win. But I almost got away with it. I really thought I was going to come back and win. But I didn’t have enough in the tank, I guess.”

Carlton Forrester, 29, of Birmingham, Ala., eliminated two USGA champions Tuesday. He beat two-time (2001, 2003) USGA Senior Amateur winner Kemp Richardson of Laguna Niguel, Calif., 4 and 3, in the second round and then went on to oust 1999 Mid-Amateur winner Danny Green, 48, of Jackson, Tenn., in the afternoon.

Green won the 13th after Forrester bogeyed, cutting his deficit to one hole. But Forrester reclaimed a 2-up lead one hole later when Green hit his tee shot into a left greenside bunker.

”I was shocked to see him hit the ball where he did on 14,” said Forrester. “He doesn’t ever hit a ball like that, especially when he has momentum. It gave me a little confidence.”

The two traded pars on the next three holes and Forrester had a 3-and-1 victory.

“When you can beat Danny Green, I tell you, it feels like you’ve accomplished something,” he said.

Michael McCoy, 42, of West Des Moines, Iowa, earned a pair of 3-and-2 victories Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time. First he eliminated Raymond Floyd Jr, of Greenwich, Conn., and then went on to beat Cliff Benson, Raleigh, N.C.

McCoy, playing in his ninth U.S. Mid-Amateur, credited consistent play for his success. He never trailed in either of his matches.

“The golf course is so hard in places,” he said. “Yesterday I got caught up a little bit in playing my opponent. Today I focused more on my game and didn’t let the match dictate my play. I was probably a little more even-keeled than I was yesterday. I’d like to continue to do that in the next match.“

In other third-round action, Trey Lewis of Hendersonville, Tenn., beat Bryan Hoops of Chandler, Ariz., 4 and 2; Tripp Davis of Norman, Okla., ousted Parker Smith of Morristown, Tenn., 2 and 1; Brendan Hester of Northbridge, Mass., defeated Bryan Norton, Mission Hills, Kan., in 19 holes; Kenneth Kellaney, Phoenix, Ariz., eliminated Frank Vana Jr. of Boylston, Mass., 1 up; and Steven Liebler of Irmo, S.C., needed 22 holes to outlast Rick Dewitt of Arvada, Colo.

In the morning’s second round, Liebler, trailed early against two-time USA Walker Cupper and 1994 U.S. Amateur runner-up Trip Kuehne, 32, of Dallas, Texas. Kuehne built a 2-up lead after seven holes, but Liebler came back to win three in a row, starting with a birdie at the par-3 eighth, to take a 1-up lead.

“When I was two down, I didn’t panic,” said Liebler, a reinstated amateur who is playing in his first USGA championship for individuals since the 1985 U.S. Open. “Fortunately I was hitting it pretty solid. I was two down after seven holes and I hit some good shots and was fortunate to make a few putts.”

The match returned to all square when Kuehne won No. 11, but Liebler won the 13th and 15th holes to take a 2-up lead. After winning the 17th with a birdie, Kuehne had a chance to square the match on the 450-yard par-4 18th hole, but his 18-foot birdie putt skirted by the hole and Liebler had a 1-up victory.

“It wasn’t a hard putt,” said Kuehne, who was eliminated in the second round for the third consecutive year. “It’s just a hard hole. You can’t come to holes where you have to make a 3 to try to stay alive in the match. It’s kind of like dogs that chase cars when you try to do that. You don’t last very long. You go on down the highway.”

Match play continues Wednesday with the quarterfinal and semifinal matches. The championship concludes with Thursday’s 36-hole final match.

The U.S. 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 Beth Murrison of USGA Media Relations. E-mail her with questions or comments at bmurrison@usga.org.

Chattanooga, Tenn. – Results following Tuesday’s second and third rounds of match play at the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, being played at the par-72, 7,037-yard Honors Course.

Round of 32

Upper Bracket

Bryan Hoops, Chandler, Ariz. (152) def. T J Brudzinski, Columbus, Ohio (148), 3 and 2

Trey Lewis, Hendersonville, Tenn. (145) def. Robert Stelben Jr, Darien, Conn. (145), 6 and 5

Steven Liebler, Irmo, S.C. (147) def. Trip Kuehne, Dallas, Texas (144), 1 up

Rick Dewitt, Arvada, Colo. (149) def. Doug Stiles, Athens, Ga. (151), 22 holes

Kevin Marsh, Las Vegas, Nev. (142) def. Jim Chang, Montebello, Calif. (149), 2 and 1

Austin Eaton III, North Sutton, N.H. (146) def. Nate Dunn, Manchester, Iowa (145), 3 and 1

Parker Smith, Morristown, Tenn. (142) def. Andy Drohen, Granville, Mass. (149), 5 and 3

Tripp Davis, Norman, Okla. (146) def. Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa. (145), 3 and 2

Lower Bracket

Michael McCoy, West Des Moines, Iowa (148) def. Raymond Floyd Jr, Greenwich, Conn. (140), 3 and 2

Cliff Benson, Raleigh, N.C. (151) def. Stephen Paterson, Austin, Texas (150), 3 and 2

Brendan Hester, Northbridge, Mass. (143) def. Terrence Miskell, New Braunfels, Texas (149), 3 and 2

Bryan Norton, Mission Hills, Kan. (146) def. Eoghan O'Connell, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (145), 2 up

Danny Green, Jackson, Tenn. (141) def. Erik Myrmo, Eugene, Ore. (148), 4 and 3

Carlton Forrester, Birmingham, Ala. (146) def. Kemp Richardson, Laguna Niguel, Calif. (151), 4 and 3

Frank Vana Jr, Boylston, Mass. (147) def. David Noll Jr, Dalton, Ga. (142), 1 up

Kenneth Kellaney, Phoenix, Ariz. (145) def. Patrick Carrigan, Walnut, Calif. (150), 4 and 3

Round of 16

Upper Bracket

Lewis def. Hoops, 4 and 2

Liebler def. Dewitt, 22 holes

Marsh def. Eaton, 3 and 2

Davis def. Smith, 2 and 1

Lower Bracket

McCoy def. Benson, 3 and 2

Hester def. Norton, 19 holes

Forrester def. Green, 2 and 1

Kellaney def. Vana, 1 up

Chattanooga, Tenn. – Pairings for Wednesday’s quarterfinal round of match play at the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, being played at the par-72, 7,037-yard Honors Course.

Round of 8

Upper Bracket

8:00 a.m. Trey Lewis, Hendersonville, Tenn. (145) vs. Steven Liebler, Irmo, S.C. (147)

8:10 a.m. Kevin Marsh, Las Vegas, Nev. (142) vs. Tripp Davis, Norman, Okla. (146)

Lower Bracket

8:20 a.m. Michael McCoy, West Des Moines, Iowa (148) vs. Brendan Hester, Northbridge, Mass. (143)

8:30 a.m. Carlton Forrester, Birmingham, Ala. (146) vs. Kenneth Kellaney, Phoenix, Ariz

ABOUT THE U.S. Mid-Amateur

The U.S. Mid-Amateur originated in 1981 for the amateur golfer of at least 25 years of age, the purpose of which to provide a formal national championship for the post-college player. The event is open to those with a USGA Handicap Index of 3.4 or lower. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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