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2008

Steve Wilson

Steve Wilson, 38, of Ocean Springs, Miss., gained the lead with a birdie on the 13th hole and pulled away for a 5-and-4 win over Todd Mitchell, 30, of Bloomington, Ill., in the 36-hole final of the U.S. Mid- Amateur Championship at Milwaukee (Wis.) Country Club.

With his win, Wilson earned custody of the Robert T. Jones Jr. Trophy for a year and an invitation to the 2009 Masters Tournament.

“This is like hitting the lottery for me,” said Wilson, who had never been to Augusta National Golf Club. “I never believed I could win anything this big.”

Wilson had never won in match play before the Mid-Amateur championship but quickly learned to like the format.

“I love match play. You can be super aggressive,” said Wilson, a gas station owner who was a “parttime” professional golfer for almost 10 years before being reinstated as an amateur in 2005.

“I never dreamed of getting to the Masters,” Wilson said about his professional days. “Just getting to the PGA Tour would have been plenty. For the Masters to be my first PGA Tour event is unbelievable.”

He took a 2-up lead in the final against Mitchell with wins on the 13th and 15th holes before Mitchell earned a hole back with a winning par at 16.

Mitchell probably thought he would win one of the last two holes in the morning round as well. Wilson was in a greenside bunker on both 17 and 18 and made midrange putts to save par on each. Instead of cutting the deficit, Mitchell three-putted the 18th hole to again fall 2 down.

“He’s a good player,” said Mitchell of Wilson, who had 14 one-putts in 32 holes. “He’s never out of a hole as he proved with his bunker play and good putting.

“What a difference a day makes,” Mitchell said. “It’s difficult to have your best game each and every day. He was able to do that and I wasn’t.”

Wilson shot the equivalent of 1-under-par 69 for his morning round on the wind swept 7,004-yard, par-70 layout. To begin the afternoon, Wilson was just as sharp and patiently built his lead to 5 up after 24 holes, keeping Mitchell from taking any holes in a 14-hole stretch.

Mitchell did win the 12th (30th) hole in the afternoon, but it was too late. In all, Mitchell won only four of the 32 holes in the match. And when Wilson made the last of his 14 oneputts for par on the 14th hole (32nd), the match was over.

Wilson gained momentum as the week went on. He didn’t trail in any of his final three matches. He beat Mike McCoy of West Des Moines, Iowa, in his semifinal match, 3 and 1.

Mitchell, an insurance salesman and a 2002 graduate of Illinois State where he played baseball well enough to be drafted by the New York Yankees, survived a 19-man playoff on Monday after 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying just to advance to the 64-player match-play field.

He reached the final with win over Sean Knapp of Oakmont, Pa., in his semifinal, 4 and 3.

 

 
Championship Facts

U.S. Mid-Amateur

ARCHITECTS – The Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique was designed by Tom Watson and opened in 2000. The River Course was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1995.

COURSE SETUP – There are two setups at Cassique – Pulpit and Nip Tuck. During stroke play, the Pulpit setup will be used with holes 4, 5 and 6 playing at 370, 148 and 525 yards, respectively. With the beginning of the second round of match play, the Nip Tuck setup will be used and holes 4, 5 and 6 will play at 360, 155 and 565 yards, respectively. The Pulpit and Nip Tuck setups may rotate during the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds.

The USGA Course Rating® and USGA Slope Rating® for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at The Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique are 75.2 and 146 for the Pulpit setup and 74.5 and 145 for the Nip Tuck setup. The USGA Course Rating® and USGA Slope Rating® for The River Course are 74.7 and 147. The grass heights in the various areas of the course for the championship should be as follows:

Cassique
Putting Greens – Prepared firm and fast to measure approximately 12 feet on the USGA Stimpmeter
Approaches collars around greens – .400 inches (30 inches in width, or one mower width, on collars)
Fairways, teeing grounds – .450 inches Intermediate Rough – 1 inch (6 feet in width)
Primary Rough – 2.5 to 3 inches Practice Tee – .450 inches

The River Course
Putting Greens – Prepared firm and fast to measure approximately 12 feet on the USGA Stimpmeter
Fairways, approaches, collars around greens – .350 inches (30 inches in width, or one mower width, on collars)
Teeing Grounds – .250 inches
Intermediate Rough – 1 inch (6 feet in width)
Primary Rough – 2.5 to 3 inches
Practice Tee – .450 inches

USGA AND SOUTH CAROLINA – The 2009 U.S. Mid-Amateur will be the 14th USGA championship conducted in the state of South Carolina. The last USGA championships in the state were the 2005 Men’s and Women’s State Team Championships, held concurrently at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton.

It is the first USGA championship for The Kiawah Island Club. The U.S. Mid-Amateur is making its second appearance in the state; the 1991 U.S. Mid-Amateur was held at Long Cove Club in Hilton Head Island.

CHAMPIONSHIP WEB SITE – Visit www.usmidam.org or www.usga.org for the latest news and scores during the championship.

ADMISSION – Admission is free. Tickets are not needed for this USGA championship, and spectators are encouraged to attend.

 

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