Four make match play but none advance to Round of 16
The 39th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Colorado Golf Club hasn’t exactly provided a home-course advantage.
With players boasting Colorado ties comprising 13 players in the field, a total of four—Stephen Powers of Denver, Nick Nosewicz of Aurora, Ryan Axlund of Englewood and former UCCS golfer Jon Olson of Iowa—advanced from the 264-player stroke-play stage to the 64-player match-play portion of the event.
Playing with Matches
In Monday’s opening matches, the Centennial State contingent fared well. Olson (ranked 8th) defeated Canada’s Dave Bunker, 2 and 1; Axtlund (42nd) bested Herbie Aikens of Massachusetts, 2 and 1; and Nosewicz (51st) prevailed, 4 and 3, over Kansan Troy Johnson.
The lone casualty was Powers (60th), who earlier that day had prevailed in an 18-man playoff for the final six match-play spots, only to lose in 19 holes to Paul McNamara of Dallas.
Tuesday’s Round of 32, however, produced much different results.
Olson, who had a 1-up lead on Texan Jason Schultz after winning the par-5 15th, gave the lead back when he bogeyed the par-5 16th. After both players bogeyed the par-3 17th, Schultz birdied the par-4 18th as Olson made par, giving Schultz a 1-up victory.
Axlund never led in his match against John Ehrgott of Peoria, Ill., but his birdie on 15 cut the lead to one hole. After the two made pars on 16, Ehrgott won the 17th, finishing the match, 2 and 1.
In his match with Australian Lukas Michel, Nosewicz found himself 2-up after 10 holes, but lost four of the next five holes and could only match Michel on 16 and 17 to fall, 2 and 1.
The Elite Eight
With Tuesday afternoon’s matches winnowing the field, Colorado can take some solace in that two of the above-named vanquishers—Schultz and Michel—have made it to Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
In the 7:00 A.M. match, Schultz defeated Andres Schonbaum of Argentina, 3 and 2 (Schonbaum had defeated defending champion Kevin O’Connell in the Round of 32), while Michel took 20 holes to defeat Jacob Koppenberg of Bellingham, Wash., who birdied four of the last five holes to extend the match.
In the two other morning matches, Newport Beach’s Stewart Hagestad, fresh from helping the USA retain the Walker Cup, defeated 63rd seed Nick Geyer of San Diego, 4 and 2, and 12 seed Joseph Deraney of Tupelo, Miss. scored a 2 and 1 victory over Yaroslav Merkulov of Penfield, N.Y., a Rochester suburb.
Through five rounds of match play, Hagestad—the 2016 Mid-Amateur champion and low-amateur at the 2017 Masters—has played just 59 holes. He is a combined 11 under par, with the usual concessions.
“I know the whole way through, from here on out, you’re getting everyone’s best,” said the 28-year-old Hagestad, who is the world’s top-ranked mid-amateur and No. 6 overall in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. “They’re throwing everything they have at you. There’s a lot of golf left, and you’ve got to kind of take it one match at a time and a hole at a time and all the adages that go with it. But everyone that’s here is really good. So, you can’t really take anything for granted.”
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