Jones, Shuman Early Leaders for Medalist in Rain-Delayed Mid-Am
Mother Nature continues to wreak havoc on the 41st U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. Sunday’s storm dumped 4 inches of rain on Erin Hills and 5.3 inches at stroke-play co-host Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in Wauwatosa, nearly 30 miles to the southeast, requiring a massive cleanup effort.
This was especially the case at Blue Mound, where 20 pumps were utilized to extract standing water from bunkers and fairways. Staffers from nine nearby facilities aided in the herculean task of making the course playable.
Round 2 of stroke play, which was completely wiped out on Sunday, resumed at 11:30 a.m. CDT on Monday at Erin Hills and 30 minutes later at Blue Mound, with the morning wave completing 36 holes. Those in the afternoon wave started Round 2 – two groups at Blue Mound didn’t start – but won’t finish until Tuesday, when the field will be trimmed to the low 64 scorers for match play at Erin Hills. Any necessary playoff would take place on Tuesday at Erin Hills, starting on No. 10.
The lengthy weather suspension led 12 competitors from the starting field of 264 to withdraw either Sunday night or Monday so they could return to their jobs and families.
Alex Beson-Crone, the superintendent at Blue Mound, sent out a text when he arrived on property at 3:15 a.m. on Monday: “There is zero chance we are playing golf today.”
Eight hours later, Beson-Crone, his senior assistant Dan Vater, and their team of 19 had Blue Mound ready for Round 2.
“They had a really good approach,” said John Petrovsky, the manager of education for the USGA Green Section, who spent 20 years in golf maintenance before joining the Association last December. “They knew where they needed to move water so that other areas would begin draining.”
A similar scenario took place at Erin Hills, where Zach Reineking, the director of course maintenance, said his staff of 18 began pumping water at 2 a.m. and overcame some early morning rain.
“You’ve got to go hats off to the grounds crew and the USGA, and everybody who probably hasn’t slept,” said Jake Shuman, 26, of Boston, Mass., who carded a bogey-free, 4-under-par 66 at Blue Mound to share the clubhouse lead for medalist honors at 7-under 134. “I haven’t seen rain like that in probably ever. The greens were perfect. [They were] still fast and still pretty firm. It’s pretty impressive.”
Shuman, a financial planner who regained his amateur status in March after retiring from professional golf in 2020, was joined at the top by fellow 26-year-old Sam Jones, of New Zealand, who shot a 4-under 67 at 7,309-yard, par-71 Erin Hills, the site of the 2017 U.S. Open. Jones came to Wisconsin after helping New Zealand finish in a tie for 34th in the World Amateur Team Championship in France Aug. 31-Sept. 3.
Jones, the winner of the 2019 New Zealand Amateur and 2022 New Zealand Stroke Play Championship, posted six birdies against two bogeys.
“[It] was just getting the driver in play,” said Jones. “I hit a lot of fairways, was hitting wedges in, and was hitting it relatively close, inside of 10 feet for my birdies. My best one was on No. 6, the long par 3. I hit a good 5-iron in there from 217 to 12 feet and rolled that one in.”
Shuman, a Duke University graduate who advanced to match play in the 2012 and 2013 U.S. Junior Amateurs, birdied Nos. 5, 6, 14 and 16, but said the key to the round was making a couple of critical up-and-down pars from 6 to 8 feet on a couple of par 3s.
First-round leader and defending champion Stewart Hagestad, of Newport Beach, Calif., had a late tee time at Erin Hills. He opened with a 6-under 64 at Blue Mound on Saturday.
The suspended Round 2 of stroke play will resume at 7:30 a.m. CDT on Tuesday, with any playoff for the final match-play spots to follow at Erin Hills, starting on No. 10. The Round of 64 is expected to begin on Tuesday at a time to be determined.
“The organization of their team was outstanding. They knew what needed to get done and how to progress. The biggest challenge was when it started to rain again [on Monday morning]. Being a newer course, the drainage is good.” – Darin Bevard, the USGA’s director of championship agronomy, on the work performed by the Erin Hills staff
“They couldn’t see bridges. We didn’t even know if the bridges were there between 3 and 4 [a.m.]. Can we even get golfers around the course? But I am sure [Blue Mound superintendent] Alex [Beson-Crone] would have found bridges [from somewhere] and had them shipped in. Sometime between 3:30 and 4 in the morning, he group-texted a bunch of superintendents in the area and said, I need help. And they all showed up.” – John Petrovsky, the USGA’s manager of Green Section education
“I wanted to make money. I played [professionally] for 2½ to 3 years and loved it, but I got tired of the travel and frankly wasn’t making enough money. So I stopped playing over two years ago. It was a long year of not playing in anything.” – Jake Shuman on why he left professional golf
“We have a pretty little country course down there. Manaia is the name of it. It’s 6,000 yards long and we’ve got one greenkeeper that works up to 40 hours a week. Humble beginnings, I guess, but playing on a track like this (Erin Hills) is amazing.” – Sam Jones, on his New Zealand roots
“The course sets up pretty well for me. I am a good putter, that’s kind of my bread and butter. The greens are tough out here and fast. I was able to control my speed really well at Blue Mound and here, too.” – Sam Foust
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com. Brian DePasquale, a senior manager of championship communications, contributed.