The two Golf Association of Philadelphia players who reached match play in the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Atlanta saw their bids halted with first-round losses Tuesday.
Gregor Orlando, who captured the BMW Philadelphia Amateur title on his home course at Philadelphia Cricket Club this summer, suffered a hard-fought 1-up decision at the hands of Philip Lee of White Bluff, Tenn. over the 7,207-yard, par-70 Crabapple layout.
Lu Lu Country Club’s Michael R. Brown Jr. lost four straight holes on the front nine and never could climb out of the hole in a 4 and 3 loss to David Lang of Canada.
Orlando was 1-down when he evened the match by winning the 10th with a birdie. He got a win at 11 with a par and then went 2-up by winning the 13th with a birdie. But Lee got the match back to all-square by winning 14 and 15 with pars and then finished off Orlando by winning the 18th with a par.
Brown of Maple Shade, N.J. got an early lead on Lang when he won the second hole with a birdie. But Lang won the fourth with a birdie, the fifth with a par, the sixth with a birdie and the seventh with a par to take a 3-up lead.
Brown cut into the lead by winning the eighth with a birdie, but Lange won the ninth and the 11th with pars to increase his lead to 4-up. Brown won the 12th with a birdie, but Lang closed him out by winning the 15th with a birdie.
Some of the big names in mid-am golf, including defending champion Stewart Hagestad, were left by the wayside with first-round losses. Upset isn’t the right word because it’s golf and it’s match play and everybody who makes match play in this event can play. Everybody.
Jason Anthony of Fairfield, Calif., for instance, wasn’t nearly as impressed with the match-play record of Nathan Smith, the four-time U.S. Mid-Am champion from Pittsburgh, as say, I was. Anthony blitzed Smith with a front-nine birdie barrage on his way to a 6 and 4 victory.
Anthony had a 1-up lead when he won the fifth, sixth and seventh holes with birdies to suddenly go 4-up. Smith, a three-time Walker Cupper, never recovered.
Anthony’s reward for knocking off Smith is a second-round meeting with qualifying medalist Bradford Tilley of Easton, Conn., although the 34-year-old Tilley battled flu-like symptoms in a hard-fought 3 and 2 win over Draegen Majors of Tulsa, Okla.
The second round of matches get under way Wednesday morning with the round of 16 to follow Wednesday afternoon.
The 26-year-old Hagestad has had quite a year since rallying from 4-down with five holes to play to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur title on the 37th hole of a memorable final with Scott Harvey that started on Stonewall’s North Course and concluded on the Old Course. Hagestad was the low amateur at the Masters and played on the winning U.S. side in the Walker Cup Match played on the course he grew up playing at Los Angeles Country Club.
But Dusty Drenth, a 29-year-old salesman for a supply company from Davenport, Iowa, never blinked in a 3 and 1 victory. Not even after falling 2-down to Hagestad through six holes. Drenth proceeded to win the seventh with a birdie, the ninth with a birdie, the 10th with a par and the 11th with a birdie.
Suddenly Drenth was 2-up and he then gutted out five straight halves before closing out Hagestad with a par on the 17th.
Harvey, the 39-year-old from Greensboro, N.C. who won the 2014 U.S. Mid-Am at Saucon Valley Country Club, was one of the survivors of a 25-man playoff for the final 16 spots in match play early Tuesday morning.
But Chad Wilfong of Charlotte, N.C. knocked out Harvey with a 3 and 2 opening-round victory.
One of the more interesting second-round matches will pit the two reinstated amateurs that three-time BMW Philadelphia Amateur champion Michael McDermott beat in the first two rounds of match play on his way to the quarterfinals a year ago at Stonewall.
Joseph Ida of Overland, Kan., whom McDermott beat on the 20th hole in the first round, will square off against Joe Alfieri of Lutz, Fla., whom McDermott edged 1-up in the second round.
Ida pulled out a 1-up win over Jeronimo Esteve of Puerto Rico while Alfieri rolled to a 6 and 5 decision over Charles Waddell of Chicago in opening-round matches Tuesday.