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-- USGA Photo
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Davis Boland, 42, of Louisville, Ky., upended stroke-play medalist Matthew Mattare, 27, of New York, N.Y., in the first round of match play Monday at the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, held at the par-71, 7,173-yard Country Club of Birmingham’s West Course.
Boland, who is playing in second U.S. Mid-Amateur and third USGA championship, sank an 8-foot par putt on the 17th hole to win the match, 2 and 1. Mattare, who was the medalist after shooting rounds of 67 and 69 in stroke play, became the first top seed eliminated in the first round since 2007.
“Probably pretty close to the best day of my golfing career,” said Boland, who survived a 12-for-8 playoff earlier in the day to make the match-play bracket. “I got a little bit lucky but you have to in match play.”
Boland, who failed to qualify for match play in his only previous Mid-Amateur appearance, captured five of six holes on the outward nine to construct a 4-up lead. He won holes 3, 4 and 7 with pars and set up a birdie at the par-4 6th with a well-struck 120-yard gap wedge.
In a back-and-forth match, Mattare, a quarterfinalist at last year’s Mid-Amateur, would later win Nos. 10 and 11 with a birdie and par, respectively, to close the gap to 1 down. Boland responded with a birdie at the 305-yard, par-4 12th when his chip shot settled 6 feet from the hole.
Mattare made another run at his opponent when he got up-and-down for par to halve the par-5 15th and won the following hole with a 3-foot par putt. But his approach shot on No. 17 clipped the last branch on a tree near the green, resulting in a three-putt bogey. Meanwhile, Boland put the match away when he chipped from just off the putting surface to set up the match-clinching putt.
“To do that at the last hole, I was proud of that putt,” said Boland, a lumber company sales manager who plays about 20 rounds a year. “It felt great and I was relieved. I didn’t want it to go any further.”
While Mattare thought Boland played well and holed some big putts, the son of a golf professional was clearly disappointed.
“There are 264 good players and then there are 64 really good players, and anyone of them can jump up and bite you,” said Mattare, who admitted that he was fighting his swing early in the match. “What happened the last two days doesn’t mean anything. You go home with a medal but that doesn’t make up for how disappointed I am right now.”
Kenny Cook, the second seed, and Bill Williamson, the third seed, each won his first-round match. Cook, 33, of Noblesville, Ind., defeated Benjamin Campbell, 38, of Cleveland, Va., 5 and 4. Williamson, 36, of Cincinnati, Ohio, dispatched John Rudolph, 36, of San Diego, Calif., 6 and 4.
Cook, who was the 2011 Mid-Amateur runner-up, won three consecutive holes on the outward nine with pars to take a 4-up lead. He later birdied No. 12 by making a downhill 12-foot putt and was conceded a 13-foot birdie putt on No. 14 to end the match.
“I felt like we were rushed early on and then I settled back down,” said Cook, who carded the best round of stroke play with a 5-under-par 65 on Sunday. “I didn’t try to give anything away. It’s windy and the greens are fast.”
Williamson had a “dream start” when he hit a wedge close at No. 1 and drilled a 15-footer at No. 2 to begin with consecutive birdies. He added three more birdies during his match, including on the par-4 12th, where he chipped to within 6 feet.
“[To make birdies] you have to get on the right side of the hole and the right tier,” said Williamson, who advanced to the Round of 16 at the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur. “I am hitting my irons crisp, and if I can keep my driver straight I will be okay.”
A pair of U.S. Mid-Amateur champions reached the second round. Tim Jackson, 54, of Germantown, Tenn., won the 1994 and 2001 titles. He defeated Michael Greene, 25, of Overland Park, Kan., 6 and 4. Kevin Marsh, 40, of Henderson, Nev., claimed the 2005 championship. He held off Matthew Rosen, 38, of Tucson, Ariz., 1 up.
Nathan Smith, the defending U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and four-time winner of this event, posted a 4-and-3 victory over Scott Shingler, 41, of Haymarket, Va. The 35-year-old from Pittsburgh, won three of four holes on the outward nine to build a 3-up advantage.
“It was cold this morning and I was surprised how firm the greens were,” said Smith, who improved his match-play record to 33-4 in this championship. “Sometimes you have to play away from them [the flagsticks]. You just had to hit the fat part of the green.”
Smith, a member of last month’s winning USA Walker Cup Team, got up and down from in front of the green for birdie at the drivable par-4 12th and wrapped up the match with a par on No. 15.
Paul Simson, 62, of Raleigh, N.C., continued his good play with a 3-and-2 triumph over Bobby Delagrange, 28, of Westfield, Ind. The two-time USGA Senior Amateur champion (2010 and 2012) is the oldest player remaining in the championship.
The final match of the day was suspended due to darkness but will resume at 6:50 a.m. CDT on Tuesday prior to the start of the second round.