RICHMOND, TX, (Sept. 18, 2011) – Paul Simson, 60, of Raleigh, N.C., shot a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead following the completion of the first round of stroke play Sunday morning at the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
Play was suspended due to a dangerous weather condition Saturday for two hours and 32 minutes at the par-72, 7,170-yard Shadow Hawk Golf Club and the adjacent par-72, 7,125-yard Houstonian Golf & Country Club. Play was called for the day due to darkness with 99 players yet to complete the first round.
Simson, who was six under through 16 holes at The Houstonian Saturday, bogeyed the par-4, 444-yard ninth hole, the 18th of his round, to finish at five under. Simson, the 2010 USGA Senior Amateur champion, is a five-time USGA stroke-play medalist, including the 2004 Mid-Amateur, when he shared the honor with Jeff Wilson.
Following the completion of his first round, Simson quickly headed to Shadow Hawk to begin his second round at 8:40 a.m. CDT.
Mike McCaffrey, 41, of League City, Texas, shot a 4-under 68 at Shadow Hawk Saturday. McCaffrey had eight birdies in his round, including four in a row from the seventh through 10th holes. His final birdie came on No. 17, when he made a 30-footer.
“It was bittersweet, starting with a bogey and ending with a double,” said McCaffrey. “Everything in between was pretty decent, though. I drove it in play and I hit it very decent and I putted it really well. I rolled the ball real well today. I only missed a couple of putts all day long.”
Matching McCaffrey’s 68 were John Engler, 32, of Augusta, Ga., and Kevin Pomarleau, 42, of E. Wenatchee, Wash., who concluded their first round at Shadow Hawk Sunday morning.
Five players finished at three under, led by David Noll Jr., 39, of Dalton, Ga., who had five birdies and two bogeys at Shadow Hawk. Mike McCoy, 48, of West Des Moines, Iowa, Scott Kammann, 38, of Baneberry, Tenn., Scott Stevens, 42, of Encinitas, Calif., and Jimmy Chang, 41, of San Marino, Calif., all recorded their first-round 69s at The Houstonian.
Two-time defending champion Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh, Pa., opened with a 2-under 70 at Shadow Hawk. Smith, who played in the Walker Cup Match last weekend at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland, is the only three-time champion in Mid-Amateur history. But he said he doesn’t feel any additional pressure at Shadow Hawk this week.
“As for my legacy and winning it three times, that’s something I’ve never really thought about,” said Smith, who also won the championship in 2003 and 2009. “I’m just like everybody else and we’re all kind of going after the same thing. But you realize how special it is to be a champion of this event and possibly have an invitation to the Masters. I just think that anytime you’re playing in a USGA event you’re just trying to put your best foot forward and make match play and then who knows what can happen.”
Matching Smith’s 70 were Brett Williams, 30, of Circleville, Ohio, who played at Shadow Hawk, and Kevin Watford, 38, of Franklin, Tenn., and Barry Dyche, 35, of Charlotte, N.C., who played at The Houstonian.
After the second round of stroke play Sunday, the U.S. Mid-Amateur field will be reduced to 64 players for match play. The first round of match play is scheduled for Monday, the second and third rounds will be played Tuesday, the quarterfinal and semifinal matches will be played Wednesday, and the 36-hole championship final will be played Thursday.