Harrell, Muehr play one of the best US Mid-Am matches ever
Mark Harrell (L) and Michael Muehr (R) put on a show in an epic Round of 16 match<br>(USGA photo)
Mark Harrell (L) and Michael Muehr (R) put on a show in an epic Round of 16 match
(USGA photo)

ATLANTA, GA (October 11, 2017) - How hard is it to win a match play tournament? Ask Michael Muehr of Potomac Falls, VA who is sure to be pondering that question as he heads home from the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Muehr has plenty of match play success, having won the Crump Cup twice, and making match play six times in the U.S. Mid-Amateur in the last two years, making the quarterfinals in both 2011 and 2016.

And he was playing great golf all week at the Capital City Club. Muehr opened the tournament with a 69 at the Capital City Club and followed it with another 69 at Atlanta National Golf Club to finish two strokes behind the medalist and earn the #7 seed for match play.

From there he rolled over his first-round opponent, Mark Scheibach of La Quinta, CA, by a 7&5 score. Muehr was three under for the round with no dropped shots.

In the second round he defeated one of the hottest senior players in the country, Gene Elliott of W. Des Moines, IA 3&2.

In the third round, he had his best round yet--six under par, again with not a single bogey on the card.

And he's going home.

He's going home because he ran into Mark Harrell. Harrell, who is from Lookout Mountain, GA and represents the home state's last hope in the championship, did Muehr one better, making seven birdies in a flawless round that ended with Harrell winning 1 up.

How good was the match? On a USGA setup, Harrell shot 63 on his own ball, Muehr 64 (with concessions). Neither player made a bogey in the match. Harrell didn't even make a 5 on a hole. Harrell was five under and four up through seven, played two under from there, and still had to go to the 18th hole. The final tally was 13 birdies, and 23 pars between the two.

The front nine scorecard
The front nine (USGA scoring)
Harrell got off to a hot start, making four birdies in a row from the 2nd through the 5th, and then adding another at the 7th. Muehr was able to match Harrell's birdie at the 2nd, but at one under through seven holes he found himself four down. The margin was still four as they made the turn.

“I got up early and I knew he was not going to stop,” said Harrell to the USGA. “I had to keep my foot on the pedal and keep trying to make birdies.”

In trying to stay ahead of Muehr on the back nine, Harrell had plenty of experience to lean on as well. He was a highly-ranked amateur when he was a member of the University of Alabama golf team, winning the Greystone Invitational and recording top-10 finishes in such elite tournaments as the Western Amateur, Porter Cup, and Southern Amateur. He also made match play twice in the U.S. Amateur.

Like Muehr, Harrell pursued a career in professional golf, before regaining his amateur status five years later. He has now made match play in each of the U.S. Mid-Amateurs in which he has competed since being granted reinstatement.

The front nine scorecard
The back nine (USGA scoring)
Muehr started his comeback on the par-four 11th, making birdie to get to three down. he birdied the par-five 12th but was matched by Harrell. He birdied the 478-yard par-four 14th but again it was only good for a halve, as Harrell made a 25-footer for the halve.

Muehr drew one hole closer with a birdie 2 at the 215-yard 15th, his fourth birdie in five holes. After matching pars on the 16th, Muehr found himself on the 17th green with a 20-foot birdie putt to stay in the match. Pumping his fist as the ball dropped, Muehr made his fifth birdie of the back nine to get one down with one to go.

But Harrell would not budge, making a solid par on the 18th and forcing Muehr to come up with a sixth birdie in eight holes, which he was unable to do.

The beauty of match play is that it is just you versus your opponent. There is no one else in the field to worry about. You can play poorly and win, and you can play great and lose. To win a match play championship, you have to be lucky and good.

Michael Muehr was good--he probably would have beaten any other player in the field on Wednesday--but had the bad luck to run into Mark Harrell at the wrong time.

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. 264 players begin the championship with two rounds of sroke play qualifying held at two courses, after which the low 64 (with a playoff if necessary to get the exact number) advance to single elimination match play.

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