Michael McCoy, 50, of West Des Moines, Iowa, and Bill Williamson, 36, of Cincinnati, each won a pair of matches Wednesday to advance to Thursday’s 36-hole final match at the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, held at the par-71, 7,173-yard Country Club of Birmingham’s West Course. The final is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. CDT.
McCoy, the ninth seed in the match-play bracket following stroke-play qualifying, accounted for 10 birdies in 27 holes of competition on Wednesday. He defeated 2005 Mid-Amateur champion Kevin Marsh, 40, of Henderson, Nev., 4 and 3, in the semifinal round. McCoy also routed Bradley Bastion, 28, of Clinton Township, Mich., 7 and 6, in the quarterfinals earlier in the day.
"I love golf, I love to practice, I love to play competitive golf; it’s truly my passion," said McCoy, who like Williamson will play in his first USGA championship final. "It’s exciting to have something like this happen."
Williamson, the third seed, held off Kenneth McCready, 25, of San Diego, 2 and 1, in the semifinals. He posted an 8-and-6 win over Matthew Schneider, 25, of Grand Rapids, Minn.
McCoy, who also competed in this year’s U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Amateur, surged to a 5-up advantage through the opening eight holes in his semifinal by making five birdies. He chipped in from behind the green on the par-3 5th for birdie to halve the hole. McCoy then stuck a 9-iron to within 6 feet at No. 6 to ignite a run of winning three consecutive holes.
"It wasn’t an easy shot," said McCoy about the chip at the fifth. "It was severely downhill but the lie was okay. It checked down there [going toward the hole]."
Marsh, who was playing in the Mid-Amateur semifinals for the third time, won Nos. 9 and 10 with a pair of birdies to close the gap. After the two players traded holes, McCoy sank a sharp-breaking 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th to extend to a 4-up lead. He kept that margin by making a 4½-foot putt for par on No. 14 to halve the hole and used a deft touch to get up and down on a 40-foot chip from the right fringe on No. 15 to end the match.
"Mike just played great," Marsh said about a player who is competing in his 38th USGA championship, including 14 Mid-Amateurs. :[He was] four under through six. I tried to battle my way back, but No. 11 has kind of been my nemesis hole all week. If I would have stepped up and hit a good shot there, who knows [what happens]."
Williamson started quickly, as he has done throughout match play, by winning three consecutive holes (Nos. 2, 3 and 4) for a 3-up advantage. He made a 25-footer for birdie on the 440-yard, par-4 third and rifled a 240-yard, 3-wood to within 15 feet to set up a two-putt birdie at the par-5 fourth.
The two golfers would later halve seven consecutive holes and Williamson held a 2-up cushion heading to the 14th tee. But the 2010 Ohio Amateur runner-up drove into the hazard, leading to a double bogey, and McCready was conceded a 13-foot birdie putt that sliced the deficit in half.
"It was hard-fought today," said Williamson, who has made 25 birdies in 96 holes played during the championship. "[It was] kind of the first time in match play that I made the mistakes. I tried to stay aggressive."
McCready, the youngest remaining player in the field, had an opportunity to square the match but missed a 6-foot birdie putt to the left of the hole at No. 15. He then ran into trouble on the 494-yard, par-4 16th hole when his approach shot came to rest on the very front of the deep green, leaving him an extremely long putt of roughly 120 feet uphill to the back hole location. His attempt failed to keep its line and the ball went off the putting surface into the rough, leading to a double bogey.
Williamson, who won the 16th hole with a bogey after carving a 195-yard hybrid from the left fairway rough to just over the green, would later two-putt from 35 feet for a par to close out his opponent on No. 17.
"This ranks as high," said Williamson, an attorney, referring to his previous best U.S. Mid-Amateur performance, when he advanced to the Round of 16 in 2006. "I have a nice little picture in my basement [from 2006]. I list that as one of my best accomplishments."
McCready, who has had nine surgeries over the last six years, including three ankle operations, won his third-round match by nearly holing a bunker shot on No. 18 and captured his quarterfinal in 20 holes in his first Mid-Amateur and third USGA championship.
"It validates everything I am working for," McCready said. "Getting to the semifinals is a pretty good consolation and gives me confidence."
The two semifinalists receive a two-year exemption into the U.S. Mid-Amateur, although Marsh was exempt through 2015 due to his 2005 victory. The 2014 championship will be played at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.
Both finalists are exempt into the 2014 U.S. Amateur at the Atlantic Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga. The champion also receives a likely invitation to the 2014 Masters.
Brian DePasquale is the USGA’s manager of championship communications. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Results of Wednesday's quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play at the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, played at the 7,173-yard, par-71 Country Club of Birmingham (West Course)
Michael McCoy, West Des Moines, Iowa (140) def. Bradley Bastion, Clinton Township, Mich. (146), 7 and 6
Kevin Marsh, Henderson, Nev. (139) def. Ken Tanigawa, Phoenix, Ariz. (146), 2 and 1
Kenneth McCready, San Diego, Calif. (143) def. Todd Mitchell, Bloomington, Ill. (146), 20 holes
Bill Williamson, Cincinnati, Ohio (139) def. Matt Schneider, Grand Rapids, Minn. (146), 8 and 6
Michael McCoy, West Des Moines, Iowa (140) def. Kevin Marsh, Henderson, Nev. (139), 4 and 3
Bill Williamson, Cincinnati, Ohio (139) def. Kenneth McCready, San Diego, Calif. (143), 2 and 1
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Pairing and starting times for Thursday's 36-hole championship match at the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, played at the 7,173-yard, par-71 Country Club of Birmingham (West Course)
(All Times CDT)
7 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. – Michael McCoy, West Des Moines, Iowa (140) vs. Bill Williamson, Cincinnati, Ohio (139)