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Mattare Medalist in U.S. Mid-Amateur
Matthew Mattare, a 27-year-old from New York, N.Y., shot a 2-under-par 69 Sunday to earn medalist honors at the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, held at the Country Club of Birmingham in Alabama. Mattare, who carded a first-round 67, finished the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying at 5-under 136.
Mattare, who advanced to the U.S. Mid-Amateur quarterfinals last year, one-putted his last seven greens on the par-71, 7,173-yard West Course, one of two courses used during the championship's two stroke-play rounds.
"It's just a sign that you are playing well," said Mattare, who recorded his score before the remnants of Tropical Depression Karen produced steady rain in the afternoon. "While it's exciting, you have to keep it in perspective and realize you didn't come here to win the stroke play, you came here to win the match play."
Mattare, who started on the West Course's 10th tee, birdied Nos. 17 and 18 with a pair of 6-foot putts. After adding another birdie on the par-4 third, he made three consecutive pars in spectacular fashion. He hit his tee shot in the hazard at No. 4 but saved par with a 20-foot putt. At the par-3 fifth, Mattare got up and down from a greenside bunker before holing a 60-foot putt from the front of the green at No. 6.
"I feel great about how I am hitting the ball and obviously the putter woke up in a big way," said Mattare, who is playing in his second U.S. Mid-Amateur and whose father, Gene, is the head golf professional and general manager at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa., site of next year's U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Continuing his good stretch of play, Mattare pitched to within 8 feet for par at No. 7. He then sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 193-yard, par-3 eighth and finished with a sand save from the front greenside bunker at the ninth. Kenny Cook, 33, of Noblesville, Ind., turned in the best round of the championship with a 5-under 65 on the par-70, 6,471-yard East Course. Cook, who opened with a 73, posted a two-day total of 138.
Cook used a "grip pressure" adjustment in the middle of his round to make seven birdies, including his final two holes after starting at the East's 10th tee. He left his approach shot short of the green at the par-4 eighth but then chipped in from 35 feet. Cook finished by making a downhill 15-foot birdie putt on No. 9.
"I struggled yesterday and couldn't figure it out," said Cook, the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up. "[The 65] doesn't hurt, but now today's over. It's a new day when match play starts."
Kevin Marsh, 40, of Henderson, Nev., shared the first-round lead with a 66, but slipped to a 2-over 73 on the West Course. Marsh, who has only missed match play once in 10 previous Mid-Amateur appearances, has a two-round total of 139. He is tied with Bill Williamson, 36, of Cincinnati, Ohio, who carded a 67 to go with his first-round 72.
"I drove the ball well for two days," said Marsh, who claimed the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur title. "My irons were not very good today."
Todd White, 45, of Spartanburg, S.C., led a group of five players at 1-under 140 after two rounds. White, who was the co-first-round leader with Marsh, shot a 3-over 74 on the West Course. He opened with a 66.
"The West Course is longer and the shot values are tougher, but the conditions enhanced that," said White, a member of last month's winning USA Walker Cup Team. "[Due to the weather] the last nine holes were beyond miserable."
Tim Jackson, 54, of Germantown, Tenn., also joined that group at 140. The 1994 and 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur winner added a 71 to his first-round 69. Paul Simson, 62, of Raleigh, N.C., shot his second consecutive 70. The two-time USGA Senior Amateur champion made two birdies and two bogeys.
Nathan Smith, the defending U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and four-time winner of this event, had a second-round 72 on the East Course and safely qualified for match play at 5-over 146 for the championship.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Thursday, October 10, starting at 7 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Twelve players who tied for 57th place at 7-over 148 played off for the final eight match-play berths on Monday morning. The eight players who moved on include Michael Greene, Overland Park, Kan.; Matthew Rosen, Tucson, Ariz.; Mark Cusic, California, Md.; Doug Clapp, Walpole, Mass.; Bobby Delagrange, Westfield, Ind.; Davis Boland, Louisville, Ky.; Benjamin Campbell, Cleveland, Va.; and John Rudolph, San Diego, Calif.
The above report is courtesy of the USGA. For more information, visit www.usga.org.