Hugh Foley and Matt McClean marched into the last-16 of the US Mid-Amateur Championship after impressive showings at Erin Hills on Wednesday.
Royal Dublin’s Foley raced home in four-under par for his back-nine to dispatch of Alex Turner 3&1 in their last-64 encounter before turning in four-under and never looking back against Sam Jackson in a comfortable 3&2 win in their last-32 match.
Malone’s McClean was even more impressive, dismantling Christopher Anderson 6&4 in their first round match before making light work of Casey Carnes in the last-32.
McClean had raced to 5UP through 11 holes and although Carnes pegged him back with two birdies, the Irish international eventually won the match 3&2.
That sets McClean up for a showdown with American Brad Nurski in the last-16 while Foley faces off against Ohio’s Ryan Gutowski.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I had a chance to win or make a deep run,” said 2014 runner-up Nurski.
“I’ve got a lot of people that helped me out back home, especially my wife and my buddies along with my other duties I’ve got now with being an assistant [men’s and women’s] golf coach [at Division II Missouri Western State]. It’s a little bit more hectic, but I’m enjoying it.”
With a spot in next year’s U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club for grabs for this week’s winner, it’s all to play for after a great few days for Ireland’s travelling pair to this point.
Defending champion Stewart Hagestad, of Newport Beach, Calif., the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 8 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, 2014 champion Scott Harvey, of Greensboro, N.C., 2022 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champion Chad Wilfong, of Charlotte, N.C., and 2021 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Mark Costanza, of Morristown, N.J., were among the notables to advance into the Round of 16.
Hagestad, 31, spotted Stephen Hale, of Bakersfield, Calif., an early 2-up lead, thanks to a pair of impressive opening birdies, before taking four of the next five holes – three with birdies – in posting a 5-and-3 win. The quarterfinalist in last month’s U.S. Amateur in New Jersey, who also captured this title in 2016, is bidding to join Pennsylvanians Nathan Smith (four) and Jay Sigel (three) as the only players with three or more U.S. Mid-Amateur titles, and Smith and Jim Stuart as the only players to successfully defend.
“Yeah, it’s crossed my mind,” said Hagestad of possibly making history, “but I haven’t really given it a lot of thought. I talk to Nathan a lot. We’re very close. To be one step closer, that would be really cool. But just go back to the U.S. Am. It’s not even that you can’t get ahead of yourself, it’s just like everyone is really good.”
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