Home-club hero Davis stars in U.S. Mid-Amateur Qual. at Bidermann
WILMINGTON, Del. â€” Family and work obligations, interspersed with a wedding here and a wedding there, forced Kyle Davis to significantly lighten his competitive golf schedule this season. Amid an abundance of summer activities, he managed to make room for a U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier at Bidermann Golf Club (par 72, 6,757 yards), his home course. Davis, the clubâ€™s two-time reigning champion, didnâ€™t want to miss an ideal chance to advance.
He wonâ€™t miss the Championship proper, thanks to a stellar round Monday. Davis carded a 3-under-par 69 to earn medalist honors in a qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia.
Also advancing Monday were Applebrook Golf Clubâ€™s Dan Arison, Stone Harbor Golf Clubâ€™s Peter Barron, III, Philadelphia Publinks GAâ€™s Scott McNeil, LedgeRock Golf Clubâ€™s Christopher Storck and Brett Williams, a Baltimore Country Club member.
Saucon Valley Country Club hosts the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Sept. 6-11.
â€śIâ€™ve been playing pretty well lately. I actually shot 63 out here [from the blue tees] a month ago,â€ť Davis, 28, of Garnet Valley, Pa., said. â€śIâ€™m just so comfortable out here. The golf course is a dream. Itâ€™s always in perfect condition. I always hit driver on every hole. I knew not to change any of that routine. I didnâ€™t lay up at all on any holes. I kept the pedal to the metal.â€ť
The long-hitting lefty didnâ€™t put the brakes on his drive. Davis conquered Bidermannâ€™s par 5s with birdies initiated by booming tee shots. On No. 2 (488 yards), Davis hit a half lob wedge 53 yards to three feet for a 4. He powered a 4-iron from 208 yards into the left greenside bunker on No. 6 (466 yards) and softly splashed to five feet. On the 520-yard 12th hole, Davis, the 2006 William Hyndman, III Player of the Year, plucked a 5-wood from 236 yards out of the right rough. An ensuing 25-yard pitch settled at right feet. The 547-yard 15th hole displayed a similar scene. A 4-iron from 236 yards landed 20 yards short of the green, and a perfect pitch created a five-footer for birdie.
â€śI kind of expect to make 4s on those holes,â€ť Davis, who works for the Iron Hill Brewery, said. â€śI always try to get as close to the green as I can on those holes. Thatâ€™s why I knew coming in, I had to attack those par 5s. I knew if I birdied those holes and kept a big number off the card, Iâ€™d be OK.â€ť
Davis adhered to that strategy, save for three squares (bogeys) on the scorecard. A five-footer for par on No. 3 (par 4, 421 yards), rotated 270 degrees around the cup. Davis caught the front right bunker on No. 4 (par 3, 172 yards) with an 8-iron and failed to get up-and-down. A wayward drive on the par 4, 377-yard No. 9 gave Davis a difficult lie in a mud hole. He lined a sand wedge from 110 yards to the back left portion of the sizeable surface â€” some 70 feet from the hole location. Davis ran the birdie attempt to eight feet but missed the par clean-up. Two holes (No. 7, par 4, 335 yards) prior, he executed a 30-yard pitch to eight feet for a 3.
A brilliantly played 18th hole (par 4, 424 yards) provided peace of qualifying mind. With his adrenaline flowing, Davis grabbed a piping hot driver and masterfully split the dogleg right fairway. He again hit a half sand wedge 110 yards, this time to five feet below the flagstick, and deposited the birdie putt.
â€śYouâ€™re just trying to stay in the moment,â€ť Davis said. â€śEverybody here has been so supportive. It was awesome to have a couple of the guys come out and watch you hit a few shots. The membership here is second to none. It feels like family for sure.â€ť
â€śProps really go to [Superintendent] Jon Urbanski and his staff. A lot of people might argue with me, but I donâ€™t think there are any courses, especially in this area, that are in better condition. The greens were dead perfect. If you hit a putt online, it would stay there.â€ť
Davis will make his third appearance in a national championship. He qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2003 and U.S. Amateur in 2006.
â€śI have no expectations,â€ť he said. â€śThe tournament schedule has been extremely light this year, but itâ€™s kind of helping me mindset-wise. Iâ€™ve been enjoying the game so much this year. Whether I shoot 63 or 85, it doesnâ€™t change anything.â€ť
McNeil changed his qualifying prospects in a four-hole stretch. He finished birdie-eagle-par-birdie to advance. On No. 6, McNeil drilled a downwind 9-iron 161 yards and two-putted from 18 feet. Channeling aggression and momentum, he drove the No. 7 green.
â€śI knew 1 over was right around the number, but I also knew thereâ€™s no point of taking your foot off if youâ€™re feeling good. I drove it to about eight, 10 feet straight up the hill and finally got a putt to go in,â€ť McNeil, 28, of Philadelphia, Pa., said.
McNeil left a 12-footer for birdie in the heart on No. 8 (par 3, 213 yards). The par 4, 377-yard No. 9 wasnâ€™t the case; McNeil bounced a sand wedge from 105 yards onto the green and drained a fist-pumping uphill 12-footer for birdie. He heads to his first U.S. Mid-Amateur.
â€śUsually Iâ€™m playing so bad by this time of year that I donâ€™t even try to qualify,â€ť McNeil said. â€śI took some time off so I could concentrate on playing [middle-amateur] events a little bit better. This is what I really geared the whole year for.â€ť
Unlike McNeil, a birdie-birdie start thrust Williams, a two-time runner-up in the Maryland Golf Associationâ€™s Middle-Amateur Championship, into contention immediately. He smacked a sand wedge 104 yards to eight feet on No. 1 (par 4, 313 yards), a 60-degree wedge 60 yards to four feet on No. 2. Williams, of Baldwin, Md., followed a clutch 25-footer for par on No. 5 (par 4, 384 yards), with back-to-back birdies, courtesy of crisp wedges. He turned in 4 under.
â€śAt that point, I was just trying to hit the middle of the greens and two-putt. I tried to maintain rather than going after it,â€ť Williams, 33, a product manager for Worthington Industries, said.
Williams also qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2011.
Golf Association of Philadelphia