St. Louis, MO—
And then there were 64—oops, not quite.
Day two of qualifying went off without a hitch beginning with another #1 and #10 tee start at 7:30 on the Norwood Hills CC West course. Almost 12 hours later the MGA almost had its 64 qualifiers right “on the number” at 7 over par 149. Alas, only 63 players finished two days at 149 or better, so all 12 players at 150 had to go back out for a 12 for 1 playoff that started at hole #14, a long a difficult par-4. After over an hour and three playoff holes we still had six players standing who will reconvene at 7:30 this morning to go to #10 and find out who gets the 64th spot and the “privilege” of meeting the medalist, Joey Johnson, in the round of 64.
The playoff mirrored the field of 147 in that we saw young Boonville HS player Brett Windsor and two “seniors”—Charlie Schorgl and Scott Edwards– keep fighting through the three playoff holes Wednesday night amidst a crowd of college players and mid-amateurs. There were several scrambling pars made on 14, 17, and 18, but no one was able to make a birdie and end matters in the Wednesday evening gloaming.
I’m pulling for Windsor in the morning. He followed up a birdie-free and disappointing 79 with a nice even par 71 and a spot in the playoff. Although giving up 50 or more yards to bigger and stronger competitors, he knows how to scramble and he made a couple of clutch putts to stay alive in the playoff. Plus, when it’s his turn to play he does so without undue delay. He pulls a club in hits it…No meteorological séances, no getting ready and then repeatedly backing off– just golf the way it is meant to be played.
Defending champion Johnson could not follow his 64 with another low round. But he didn’t need to. He had a rather uneventful even par 71 with two birdies and his first two bogeys of the qualifying. The latter came on his opening nine and dropped him at one point to five under and in jeopardy of losing the qualifying medal to runner-up Skip Berkmeyer. In fact, Skip had pulled to within one shot of Johnson after 34 holes before making a 7 on the par-five 8th, their 35th hole.
We ended 36 holes with 7 players under par and eight more at even. The hole locations were not overly difficult during qualifying, as the MGA had to get a large field around the course in a reasonable period of time. MGA Executive Director Scott Hovis will stay true to past history and begin to increase the difficulty now that we’re about to be down to 64. Friday’s double round, when we get to 16 and then 8, will feature some very tricky and tough locations and a course, barring rain, that will play even “faster” and more difficult.
This year’s qualifying field included two 15-year-olds, Caleb Picker and Chris Ferris, who missed the cut, and the almost 63-year-old Don Bliss who shot 147 to easily make the round of 64. Don is a 4-time Missouri Amateur champion and joins Johnson, Berkmeyer, and Brad Nurski as former champs who have made match play.
For full results go to www.mogolf.org
The Missouri Golf Post