BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Even a minor swing change can seem like a momentous event for a golfer. Scott Harvey would have agreed – at least up until last October when he had to confront a significant change in his life, the passing of his father, Bill.
My dad and I talked about it a lot. We both knew I needed to make a change, but I was always scared because I was playing such good golf, said Harvey, whose father was an accomplished amateur who competed in 23 USGA championships. He passed in October, and that kind of put it in perspective for me … you know, big deal, make a swing change. So I finally did. It’s not like it’s a major, huge swing change, but it’s enough to make a difference and give me confidence to where I didn’t have it before.
After two more victories Wednesday in the 34th U.S. Mid-Amateur championship at Saucon Valley Country Club, Harvey’s game has taken him where he’s never been before. With a 3-and-2 victory over former Mid-Amateur champion Kevin Marsh on the Old Course, Harvey, 36, of Greensboro, N.C., reached his first USGA final final.
He will face fellow co-medalist Brad Nurski, 35, of St. Joseph, Mo., in a scheduled 36-hole final starting at 7 a.m. EDT on Thursday. Nurski defeated Tom Werkmeister, of Kentwood, Mich., in 19 holes.
In the quarterfinals earlier on Wednesday, Harvey had little trouble dispatching Denver Haddix, 7 and 6.
My game is just really solid right now, Harvey said. I feel very comfortable out there and I’m hitting a lot of good shots. I need to keep it up, though.
Harvey also was the co-medalist in the 2010 Mid-Am, but he fell in the quarterfinals. That also was the only time two co-medalists – in this case tri-medalists – reached the final match with Nathan Smith beating No. 2 seed Tim Hogarth at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y.
The difference in this championship – his seventh straight Mid-Am appearance – is the adjustment he made at the top of his backswing, getting the club square at the top. Robert Linville, a teaching pro in Greensboro, helped him make the tweak late last year.
I was shut at the top – really shut, like Dustin Johnson, only that’s where the similarities end, Harvey said. I could play from that position, and I have played well, but I just wasn’t consistent with it, and it didn’t hold up under pressure.
No. 109 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™ and a member of the winning USA team at the inaugural Concession Cup earlier this year, Harvey used both solid ball-striking and timely putting to put away Marsh, the 2005 Mid-Am champion. His booming drives consistently found the fairways and he converted a number of key putts, including a 6-footer for birdie at the 15th to retain a 3-up lead after he three-putted the previous hole to give Marsh a brief opening.
The only thing missing from a splendid day on the links was having a chance to discuss it with his father.
He was a good player – and he knew it. He’d tell you about it, Harvey said with a laugh about his dad, who passed away at age 82. This whole week, I’ve felt like he’s been with me, he’s been on my shoulder. I would just love to go back right now and pick up the phone and chat with him about it.
And what would he say?
Well, he’d say there’s still a lot of work to do, said Harvey, who is trying to top his 2013 North Carolina Mid-Amateur title. I know I’m going to play a very good, very solid player tomorrow, and I need to bear down and grind it out and get it done.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.