RICHMOND, TX (Sept. 18, 2011) – John Engler, 32, of Augusta, Ga., shot a 1-under 71 Sunday to take a one-stroke lead during the second round of stroke-play qualifying at the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
Engler, who shot a first-round 68 at the par-72, 7,170-yard Shadow Hawk Golf Club, had three birdies and two bogeys en route to his second-round 71 at the adjacent par-72, 7,125-yard Houstonian Golf & Country Club, the companion stroke-play qualifying course.
On the par-4 ninth hole at The Houstonian, the 18th of Engler’s round, he hit an 8-iron to 10 feet and made the birdie to best by one stroke first-round leader Paul Simson, who carded a second-round 1-over 73 at Shadow Hawk.
“I knew kind of where I was at,” said Engler, who finished his round about 15 minutes prior to a weather delay that came at 1:55 p.m. CDT. “I just wanted to stay in a good frame of mind and get in the top 64 [for match play].”
For the second consecutive day, weather issues plagued the Mid-Amateur. Play was suspended for 3 hours, 45 minutes. The competitors in the morning wave were able to complete their second and final round of qualifying. None of the golfers in the afternoon wave completed their second rounds when darkness suspended play for the day at 7:18 p.m. CDT.
Play will resume on Monday at 7:30 a.m. CDT.
This is the second consecutive Mid-Amateur appearance for Engler, a reinstated amateur who played professionally for two years on the Nationwide Tour. In 2003, while a professional, he suffered a severe ankle injury in an automobile accident coming home from a hunting trip on his parents’ farm. The injury, which eventually forced him to leave professional golf, still affects him and makes it difficult for him to walk.
“It continues to swell,” said Engler. “To be healthy, I can only play about one tournament a month. I played in the U.S. Amateur (last month) and now here.
“It was a pretty severe break, a major dislocation of the ankle; pretty nasty,” he said. “People said I would never be able to walk without a limp, much less play golf. I came back and was very fortunate to have a short professional career. Obviously I couldn’t do it as much [because of the injury].”
Simson, 60, of Raleigh, N.C., followed up his 5-under 67 with the 73 at Shadow Hawk. The five-time USGA stroke-play medalist and 2010 USGA Senior Amateur champion was disappointed to narrowly miss out on medalist honors, but was pleased with his overall play.
“I played pretty solid,” said Simson, a co-medalist at the 2004 U.S. Mid-Amateur and four-time USGA Senior Amateur medalist. “I hit the ball well and I’m putting pretty well. Yesterday I just hit the ball really well. I was hitting it close and making putts. I’m not at all disappointed. I’m going to take it easy this afternoon and gain some strength for match play.”
Simson will easily advance to match play, which is scheduled to begin Monday at Shadow Hawk.
“This course is no doubt more difficult than the other one,” said Simson after playing his second round at Shadow Hawk. “The tee shots are a lot more demanding. You have to be a lot more accurate with your ball off the tee and the placement off the tee. So I was just trying to hit good shots and get into a position where I’ll feel comfortable tomorrow, and I think I accomplished that.”
Matching Simson’s two-day total of 4-under 140 was Kevin Pomarleau, 42, of E. Wenatchee, Wash., who missed a 5-footer on No. 18 that would have vaulted him into a tie with Engler. Pomarleau was at eight under par through 12 holes before making two double bogeys over his final six holes, including the par-5 16th when his 6-iron approach found water. He regrouped to finish with a pair of pars.
“I wanted to make that one,” said Pomarleau, a reinstated amateur who played professional golf around the world for 12 years, of the putt on No. 18. “It was one of those putts if you play break, you can’t hit it too hard. I played break and I didn’t quite hit it hard enough. I wanted to play it a ball out and maybe pulled it to the edge.”
Mike McCaffrey, 41, of League City, Texas, who was a stroke behind Simson after a 4-under 68 at Shadow Hawk Saturday, was two under through 11 holes at The Houstonian, putting him at six under overall with seven holes remaining.
Two-time defending champion Nathan Smith, 33, of Pittsburgh, Pa., who opened with a 2-under 70 at Shadow Hawk, also was playing at The Houstonian.
After the conclusion of the second round of stroke play, 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.