38th U.S. Mid-Amateur: 5 Things to Know for Round of 64 September 24, 2018 | Charlotte, N.C. By David Shefter, USGA

Despite a collection of unfamiliar equipment, Kory Bowman managed to qualify for match play this week. (USGA/Chris Keane)

U.S. Mid-Amateur Home

The match-play draw for the 38th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Charlotte Country Club is almost set. Just 12 spots remain and those will be determined on Monday morning through a 16-man playoff. Among the participants are 2013 stroke-play medalist Matt Mattare, 2016 semifinalist Dan Sullivan, 2011 runner-up Kenny Cook and 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball runner-up Ben Warnquist.

All are hoping to continue their quest for a national title. So as the top 12 seeds await their Round-of-64 opponents, here are five things to know going into the start of match play:

1. Club-Gate

Golfers tend to be creatures of comfort, so when Kory Bowman saw that his clubs were missing after registering for the championship on Thursday morning, he immediately went into panic mode.

“I went into the pro shop for 15 minutes and came back out and they were gone,” said the 47-year-old from Springfield, Mo. “I knew right where I put them. I went to the head pro Andrew [Shuck] and his assistant pro, Nick [Cannon] and said, ‘Hey, my clubs aren’t where they were.’”

Security was called and despite a widespread search, they were not located. The USGA sent out a memo to the competitors to see if anyone had seen Bowman’s clubs.

In the meantime, Bowman began scrambling to find clubs to play his scheduled practice round at stroke-play co-host Carolina Golf Club. On Friday, Bowman contacted a club manufacturing rep to get set up with new clubs. He played the first round on Saturday at Charlotte Country Club with that set and shot a 1-under 70. That night, he received a call from the Charlotte pro shop that the clubs were returned to the bag room. Nobody at the club noticed who returned them.

“I had the decision to make on whether I wanted to keep playing with the ones I was playing with or change,” said Bowman, who is competing in his fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur. “I kind of did a hodgepodge [on Sunday at Carolina Golf Club]. I took my [original] irons, used their driver, a few things like that [and shot 73].”

Bowman doesn’t know what combination he’ll use for his Round-of-64 match on Monday against Chris Schultz at 10:30 a.m.

No matter what happens, it’s already been a week to remember.

2. Sweet Home Carolina

The week began with 20 golfers having ties to North Carolina, nine of whom list Charlotte as their residency. Of those nine, four advanced to match play and a fifth, Chad Wilford, is in Monday’s 16-for-12 playoff.

Two players, Steven Woodard and Brett Boner, enjoyed a “true” home game on Sunday when they played their home course, Carolina Golf Club. They both easily advanced to match play.

“This year, everything I’ve done, whether it’s working out or practicing, it’s been focused on being in the best shape to handle two practice rounds, two stroke-play rounds and hopefully be ready for a long week ahead of me,” said Boner “Hopefully my body is strong enough to handle this, so I’m excited. And you never know in match play.”

3. Brute Finish

Any match that reaches the 18th hole brings a certain sense of drama, but at Charlotte Country Club, the excitement – and the heart rates of the competitors – might be amped up even more, considering the difficulty of the closing hole. The uphill par 4 measured 512 yards during  stroke play, while ranking as the most difficult at 4.55 strokes. The hole only yielded 11 birdies.

So, a competitor who comes to No. 18 needing to win the hole to extend the match or one who needs a halve to either win or keep a match going will face a serious challenge. Nevertheless, the hole has the potential to provide some theatrics, especially with the pressure of the championship ratcheting up.

4. International House of Golf

Since its creation in 1981, the U.S. Mid-Amateur has never produced a foreign-born champion. In 2012, Garrett Rank, of Canada, reached the championship match before falling to Nathan Smith.

While this year’s match-play draw is predominantly American, there are four international players who could make history. That list includes Echikson, who was born in France and lists his citizenship as Belgian. The three others are Edward Fryatt, of England, Claudio Consul, of Germany and Andres Schonbaum, of Argentina. Consul and Schonbaum were exempt into the field by being inside the top 400 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking.™

5. Experience Matters

While there are several competitors in the draw playing in their first or second U.S. Mid-Amateur, keep an eye out for the veterans. Reigning U.S. Senior Amateur champion Jeff Wilson is competing in his 12th Mid-Amateur, reaching the semifinals in 2001 and 2002 and the quarterfinals on three other occasions. Todd Mitchell, the runner-up in 2008 who finished two strokes behind medalist Stephen Behr, is competing in his ninth, and 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur runner-up Matt Sughrue is playing in his eighth.

“I like playing match play,” said Mitchell, who advanced to the Round of 16 of the 2015 U.S. Amateur, “so I am looking for a long week.”

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

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