Stewart Hagestad after his match against Bradley Wohlers (USGA photo)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 24, 2018) – It finally felt like fall Monday at Charlotte Country Club. U.S. Mid-Amateur match play began under an overcast sky on a tricky Donald Ross layout that tripped up two of the favorites.
For Matthew Mattare
, a 32-year-old from Jersey City, N.J., the day began when there was a still a chill in the air. Mattare had to report to the course first thing in the morning to tee it up in a 16-for-12 playoff for the final spots on the bracket. Mattare advanced with a par on No. 16.
Then it came back to help him.
Mattare – who last week won the Pennsylvania Mid-Amateur at Saucon Valley Country Club, where his father Gene is the general manager and director of golf – was slated into one of Monday’s marquee matches when he made it through that playoff. He drew a spot alongside Bradford Tilley
, the No. 3 seed who was co-medalist a year ago.
The smooth-swinging Tilley wasn’t sharp on Monday, as he had been the previous two days. Mattare took a 1-up lead when Tilley bogeyed the fourth hole, and he never trailed from that point on. Tilley fought back to square by the time the match reached the 16th tee, but bogeyed from a front bunker. Mattare drew on knowledge he had gained in the playoff that morning, and saved par even though his approach went long.
“Those are both really tough pins, so it benefited me,” Mattare said. “The tough part is sitting after the playoff for four hours. But you're just so happy. You got to keep it in perspective. You can get really annoyed by the fact you're sitting for four hours, or you can be driving nine hours home.”
The defending champion also went down on Monday. Argentina’s Andres Schonbaum
, in his second consecutive U.S. Mid-Am start, knocked off Matt Parziale
by a 3-and-2 margin. It was a similar story for the Brockton, Mass., native – he could never really get anything going while Schonbaum left open no doors.
“I did my thing, you know?” said Schonbaum, a 27-year-old who played for Jacksonville State. “Fairways, greens and make a couple putts. It worked well. I played solid so he couldn’t do much.”
Both of Charlotte’s local players, Brett Boner
and Stephen Woodard
, advanced mid-morning on the 16th green. They remain the hometown favorites, and each picked up a handful of local followers throughout the day. Both men are members at Carolina Golf Club, which was the stroke-play companion to Charlotte Country Club over the weekend.
“This is something I've thought about ever since they named these two courses I think 18 months ago,” Woodard said. “I've had it circled on my calendar and knew that I would have a big advantage by knowing this course especially over some other folks.”
, stroke-play medalist, is still alive after his match against Jeffrey Osberg. Behr won that encounter, 3 and 2.
As for Stewart Hagestad
, the 2016 champion, the first round appeared to be a walk in the park. Hagestad defeated Bradley Wohlers, 8 and 6, after winning five consecutive holes from Nos. 4-8. Hagestad eagled No. 5, birdied Nos. 6 and 7, then logged one final birdie at No. 12 to end it.
In what might be the most anticipated match of the second round, Hagestad is now slated to take on U.S. Senior Amateur champion Jeff Wilson
. Hagestad called Wilson “the best-kept secret on the West Coast,” at least until winning his first USGA title last month.
“I am going to have to play really well,” Hagestad predicted. “I can't really even try to sugarcoat it. Jeff is really good. He hits it long, he chips it. He's been known for short game for forever and he hits it super far. Not even for his age, just like period.”
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
begin the championship with two rounds of sroke
qualifying held at two courses, after which the low
(with a playoff if necessary to get the exact number)
advance to single elimination match play.
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