(McLean, Va.) won his third Crump Cup title on Sunday, knocking off a pair of U.S. Mid-Amateur champions to prevail at the 95th edition of one of the biggest tournaments in mid-amateur and senior golf.
Experience won the day for the 47-year-old Muehr, who won previously in 2008 and 2014. He was the oldest player remaining among the final four players, which included fellow past champion Skip Berkmeyer
, but he continued a remarkable string of success at Pine Valley that has seen him make the championship match play flight in eight straight years.
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Muehr is now the ninth player in Crump Cup history to win three times, and the first since Mike McCoy
who won four between 2004 and 2010. Jay Sigel is the all-time wins leader with nine.
In the final match, Muehr had his way with 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey
(Kernersville, N.C.), winning 4 and 3.
CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH REPORT by Rick Woelfel
Muehr never trailed in the championship match after sinking a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-3 third. He won the par-3 fifth with a par, but lost the long par-4 seventh after finding trouble off the tee. He rebounded with a win on the eighth with a conceded birdie before extending his lead to 3 up with a second conceded birdie at the par-3 10th; there his tee shot landed just beyond the flagstick, spun back, and hit the hole, missing out on an ace by mere inches.
Muehr went on to win the par-3 14th with a par and closed out the match on the next hole. He completed his round in the match-play equivalent of even par over a course that only allowed two rounds of par in the entire stroke play qualifier.
Muehr’s cited his iron play as the key to his success on Sunday afternoon, as he was able to leave himself an abundance of makeable putts.
Michael Muehr after his 3rd Crump Cup win
“I had really good, just great tempo with the irons,” said Muehr. “Off the tee I was fairly average but just had really good tempo with the irons, all through bag from short irons to long irons. As long as I was getting in the fairway, I felt pretty confident that I could either get myself a look at birdie or at least make a good par.”
Pine Valley’s greens were a bit less firm on Sunday than they were earlier in the weekend thanks to an overnight storm.
“They were as good as Pine Valley has been since I’ve been coming here for the Crump Cup,” Muehr said. “It was absolutely as good as it’s ever been. We got a big thunderstorm last night that really changed the way they played. They were great to putt on. It’s still a wonderful test. It’s long and you have to hit really quality golf shots into the greens.”
Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion (he was also a finalist in that championship in 2016), has competed in the Crump Cup for some 13 years. But this year was the first in which he contended for the title.
“I don’t think I’ve ever won a match in this tournament until this week,” he said. “I played okay in some matches, I played good in one match then I went back to playing just okay in the championship match. (Muehr) is playing really well and he’s just tough to beat.”
The field was, as is always the case at the Crump Cup, one of the strongest in mid-amateur golf. The 16 players who qualified for match play in the championship flight included four of the last six U.S. Mid-Amateur champions (Harvey, Matt Parziale, Stewart Hagestad, and Kevin O’Connell).
But there is much more to the Crump Cup than the quality of the golf.
“We’re very fortunate to be able to come here,” Harvey said, “and there is the respect that everyone has for a venue like this and for each other.”
“This tournament is full of not just good players but they’re all good people. And the matches are played in such a way where everyone wants to win, but it’s a friendly atmosphere.”
“This is similar to Augusta. You’re walking on hallowed ground.”
Muehr appreciates the camaraderie that develops among the competitors each year. “We all come here and we all stay at Pine Valley while we’re here for the four days or whatever,” he
said. “We’re all lodged right here and we all eat dinner together. We all have fun at night together and we all compete.
“And it just happens to also be the best mid-amateur field in golf. It’s really competitive, great camaraderie, great sportsmanship. I think there were probably 20 (players) watching our match today, which is evidence of that.
Pine Valley President Jim Davis refereed the championship match. He says the Crump Cup has evolved in the manner its namesake envisioned it would.
“It’s what Mr. Crump created,” he said. “He created a golf club really for this exact purpose. For people that love the game of golf, that want to compete in the game of golf, and this is the lasting legacy of Mr. Crump.”
Davis credits the club staff, including general manager Charles Raudenbush, golf professional David Clark, and superintendent Richard Christian and their staffs, for the tournament’s success. “The staff does an absolutely magnificent job.” He said. “I don’t think there’s a staff in the world of golf that cares about their club more than the staff here at Pine Valley.”
As is customary, the public was admitted to the grounds for the Sunday-afternoon final.
Earlier, both finalists had to go extra holes to eliminate their semifinal opponents. Muehr and 2017 U.S. Mid-Am champ Matt Parziale
(Brockton, Mass.) battled for 19 holes and Harvey had to go 20 to take out Berkmeyer and reach the final.
(W. Des Moines, Iowa) successfully defended his senior title on Sunday, defeating first-time senior participant Arnie Cutrell
(Greensburg, Pa.) 3 and 2 in the final match.
To get to the final, Elliott held off longtime friend and opponent McCoy, who was looking to duplicate Elliott's feat of winning titles in both the open and senior divisions. Their semifinal match went all the way to the 18th with Elliott winning 1 up.
Cutrell won his semifinal match 1 up over Steve Harwell
OTHER FLIGHT WINNERS
Second Flight: Derek Busby
Third Flight: Rob Couture
Senior Second Flight: David Nelson
>> Amateur Golf Scoreboard