Scott Harvey (AmateurGolf.com Photo)
Weather continued to dominate the 42nd U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship on Sunday at Sleepy Hollow Country Club and stroke-play co-host Fenway Golf Club in nearby Scarsdale, N.Y.
Just like the day before, a mid-day storm system caused a suspension in play – 72 minutes at Sleepy Hollow and two hours at Fenway – and brought nearly a quarter inch of rain to Sleepy Hollow and .63 inches to Fenway, creating adjustments in starting times and forcing the maintenance staffs and volunteers, especially at Fenway, to do yeoman’s work to get the courses ready for play.
The one silver lining was the stifling heat and humidity that were omnipresent for the two practice rounds on Thursday and Friday, and Saturday’s first round disappeared and replaced by comfortable conditions, albeit a bit soggier.
Only Sunday morning’s originally scheduled wave at Sleepy Hollow completed the second and final round of stroke play. At Fenway, eight groups (24 players) still have to complete Round 2 on Monday morning, while the entire wave that was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon has not hit a single shot. At Sleepy Hollow, a few of the groups from the originally scheduled afternoon wave are nearly done with their stroke-play rounds.
Once stroke play is completed, the match-play cut will be made to the low 64 scorers, with any possible playoff for the final spots taking place at Sleepy Hollow.
By the time play was called on Sunday due to darkness at 7:07 p.m. EDT at Fenway and two minutes later at Sleepy Hollow, 2014 champion Scott Harvey
, 45, Greensboro, N.C., had put himself in position to be medalist for a remarkable fifth time. Already in the championship record book for being medalist/co-medalist the most times since the event was created in 1981, Harvey is hoping to add to his legacy.
Knowing he was easily going to qualify for match play, the 2015 USA Walker Cupper converted a clutch par putt on Sleepy Hollow’s par-4 18th hole to shoot 2-under 69 for a 36-hole total of 5-under 136, which gave him the clubhouse lead by one stroke over Harry Bolton, 26, of Australia, who posted a 67 on Sunday at 6,850-yard Sleepy Hollow.
Two-time titleist Stewart Hagestad
, who beat Harvey in a memorable 37-hole final in 2016, finished two strokes back after a 69 on Sunday at Sleepy Hollow, along with Jack Schultz
, of Milwaukee, Wis., Chris Devlin
, 48, of Hoover, Ala., and Jimmy Castles
, 27, of Cupertino, Calif.
Schultz, 33, and Devlin each shot 69s at Sleepy Hollow, while Castles registered a 68 at 6,578-yard Fenway after posting a 70 at Sleepy Hollow earlier on Sunday. He played a total of 28½ holes due to the weather delays.
Harvey, who opened the championship on Saturday with a 67 at Fenway just moments before darkness enveloped the property, hasn’t competed a lot this summer, choosing instead to follow his teenage son, Cameron, to junior golf events.
“It’s not necessarily important but it is something that I started doing years ago,” said Harvey about earning medalist honors, including the year he claimed his lone title. “It’s really neat, I like the history of it. Any time your name is associated with any sort of record, it’s pretty cool.
“Once you get that close this late in stroke play you want to do it. I still think I needed to get to 6 or 7 [under]. This gives me an outside chance.”
Bolton, competing in his second U.S. Mid-Amateur (he lost in the Round of 64 last year at Erin Hills), had to play two holes at Fenway on Sunday morning before making the 16.5-mile drive over to Sleepy Hollow, where an eagle on the par-5 15th and subsequent birdie on the iconic par-3 16th led to the best score this weekend on the C.B. Macdonald design that was recently renovated by Gil Hanse.
“Today, it wasn’t great, but I kept it in play really well,” said Bolton, the 2019 South Australian Amateur runner-up who was exempt into the championship based on being one of the top 40 age-eligible points leaders in the World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR®. “My misses have gotten a lot better. So I kept it in play and hit a lot of greens. The greens are really big. This type of golf is my type of golf. I thrive off hitting a lot of greens and then being a pretty good putter.”
A four-time victorious USA Walker Cupper, Hagestad arrived fresh off going 2-1 in the biennial competition last weekend at St. Andrews, including a pair of singles wins that helped the Americans rally for a three-point victory on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Through 12 holes of stroke play, he was 3 over par, but he grinded out a 1-under 69 at Fenway, thanks to four birdies over his last six holes just before play was halted for the day, and then on Sunday, he produced four birdies against two bogeys.
“I made some nice putts,” said Hagestad, who is competing in his seventh Mid-Amateur, where he’s made two finals (both wins) and reached the semis on two other occasions (2018 and 2019). “With exception of a few holes, I did a pretty good job of managing how spinny the ball was with the soft conditions. There were potentials for mud balls or just the potential to spin back and not be pin high. I would say that more than anything else I scored well. I got it in at 2 under. Given the circumstances it was a great round.”
Schultz, a data engineer who was the 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year while playing at the University of Michigan, got off to a hot start, playing the first six holes of the inward nine at Sleepy Hollow in 3 under par before playing his final 12 holes in 1 over par, his lone blemish coming at the par-4 eighth, his 17th of the day.
Devlin, who also qualified for last month’s U.S. Amateur, offset a double bogey on No. 8 with four birdies, three of which came on Sleepy Hollow’s first nine. Devlin, a healthcare executive, has battled a neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis since being properly diagnosed 17 years ago.
He also had open heart surgery to remove a large thymoma, which had been causing his muscle fatigue. He returned to competitive play in 2008 and qualified for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, which he played despite pulling a muscle in his chest in the days leading up to the championship.
Castles, who didn’t turn professional after playing four seasons at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and now works for a tech company in San Francisco, got off to an inauspicious start when his first round resumed on Sunday morning at Sleepy Hollow, having to hack out of the fescue on the par-4 eighth hole that led to a bogey. He then bogeyed No. 11 before making consecutive birdies on 14 and 15 to get into the clubhouse with a 70.
After a short drive over to Fenway for lunch and then Round 2, Castles, who began on No. 10, turned in 34 thanks to three birdies in a five-hole stretch and then came home in 34 with a closing birdie on the par-4 seventh.
“The greens break a little different,” said Castles of Fenway. “We had to take some spin off [the wedge approaches] with the greens being a little soft. We just tried to keep the momentum and hopefully get in as many holes as we could of, and we were very fortunate and gracious to finish it up.”