Mid-Am Champ Harvey Claims South American Am January 25, 2015 By David Shefter, USGA

Reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey continued his winning ways at the South American Amateur. (South American Amateur)

Reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey had never played golf outside the United States before last week’s South American Amateur Championship in Lima, Peru.

Part of a four-player delegation sent to the 72-hole competition by the USGA, Harvey, 36, of Greensboro, N.C., picked up where he left off in the Mid-Amateur, posting a two-stroke victory on Jan. 25 over a strong field in the 10th edition of the championship at Lima Golf Club. 

With a final-round 73 on the par-72 layout, Harvey bested a trio of South Americans: Andre Tourinho, of Brazil; Joaquin Niemann, of Chile; and Patricio Alzamora, of Peru. Tourinho and Niemann competed in the inaugural Latin America Amateur Championship the previous week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Harvey finished at 9-under-par 279.

The other American in the field, 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Mike McCoy, 52, of Des Moines, Iowa, finished tied for 12th. McCoy posted a second-round 66 before closing with rounds of 76-73.

In the women’s competition, Sofie Garcia, of Paraguay, who trailed by 12 strokes after opening with 79-76, rallied to win the championship with the help of a third-round 66, the lowest score of the week.  Garcia’s closing round of 73 edged four players by one stroke: Maria Fassi, of Mexico; Milagros Chavez, of Paraguay; Maria Dunne, of Ireland; and 2014 Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup competitor Gemma Dryburgh, of Scotland.

Four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, 36, of Oakland Park, Fla., finished eighth at 10-over 298, four strokes behind Garcia. Reigning U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Margaret Shirley, 28, of Atlanta, Ga., tied for 14th at 16-over 304.

Harvey opened with a 6-under 66 and followed it up with a pair of 70s to take a one-shot lead over Matias Simaski and Andres Schonbaum, both of Argentina, after 54 holes.

“The first round felt really good and it could have been so much lower, to be honest with you,” Harvey told amateurgolf.com. “But I’m not complaining.”

By virtue of his victory over Brad Nurski in last fall’s U.S. Mid-Amateur final match at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa., Harvey earned an invitation to the 2015 Masters Tournament, as well as a spot in sectional qualifying for this year’s U.S. Open. He is also exempt into the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club.

With the victory in Peru, Harvey earned an exemption into the 2015 European Amateur Aug. 5-8 in Slovakia. Harvey has qualified for the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Todd Mitchell, the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up. The Four-Ball takes place May 2-6 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Harvey was one of 16 players who participated in an informal December practice session for the 2015 Walker Cup Match, which will take place Sept. 12-13 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England.

“It was another good week,” said Harvey, who entered the week at No. 75 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™. “Things are getting kind of crazy.”

Lucia Gutierrez, of Peru, the women’s defending champion, tied for 11th (302) after leading the championship through two rounds. Gutierrez struggled over the final two days with rounds of 77-82.

Stasi, joined by partner Dawn Woodard, of Greer, S.C., and Fassi, with Maria Balcazar, also of Mexico, have qualified for the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, on May 9-13, at Bandon Dunes Golf  Resort in Bandon, Ore.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.