3 Things to Know: 42nd U.S. Mid-Amateur

By David Shefter, USGA

| Sep 08, 2023 | Scarborough, N.Y.

3 Things to Know: 42nd U.S. Mid-Amateur

For the first time in 13 years, the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship is being contested in Metropolitan New York. Nathan Smith claimed the third of his record four titles at Atlantic Golf Club, in Bridgehampton, N.Y., defeating Tim Hogarth in the 36-hole final.

This week, Sleepy Hollow Country Club and stroke-play co-host Fenway Golf Club in Westchester County take center stage for the 42nd iteration of this national championship for players 25 and older. Both are classic venues designed by legendary architects C.B. Macdonald (Sleepy Hollow) and A.W. Tillinghast (Fenway), which have been recently undergone renovations by Gil Hanse.

Each should provide the kind of exacting test the USGA desires for its competitions. This is the second USGA championship to be conducted at Sleepy Hollow, following the 2002 U.S. Women’s Amateur won by Becky Lucidi (now McDaid), who is currently a golf professional at Friar’s Head in Riverhead, N.Y.

Originally called Fenimore Country Club, the club reorganized under its current name (Fenway) in 1938 after Tillinghast redesigned the original layout by Devereux Emmet.

Here are 3 Things to Know going into the championship:

Melting Pot of Talent

Thanks to exemptions for players who are among the top 40 age-eligible points leaders in the World Amateur Golf Ranking® / WAGR®, a total of 20 different countries are represented in the field. Last year, the championship witnessed its first final between two foreign-born players with Matthew McClean, of Northern Ireland, defeating the Republic of Ireland’s Hugh Foley. In 2019, Lukas Michel, of Australia, became the first international champion of the U.S. Mid-Amateur.

All three players are in this year’s competition with McClean coming off last week’s Walker Cup Match at St. Andrews in Scotland.

Since its inception in 1981, the USA had dominated this championship, with only Wayne Raath, of South Africa, and Canada’s Garrett Rank reaching the final in 2000 and 2012, respectively. 

This year’s competition will feature players from Argentina, Australia, The Bahamas, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, England, Germany, Guatemala, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Panama, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Venezuela and Wales.

Golf is become a global game and it’s reflected in the makeup of the field.

Six days after captaining the USA Walker Cup Team to a come-from-behind victory in Scotland, Mike McCoy will tee it up in the 42nd U.S. Mid-Am. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Six days after captaining the USA Walker Cup Team to a come-from-behind victory in Scotland, Mike McCoy will tee it up in the 42nd U.S. Mid-Am. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Don’t Sleep(y) on Tilley

Two weeks ago at the U.S. Senior Amateur, Mark Sear had the rare opportunity to compete in a USGA championship on his home course. Sear made the membership at Martis Camp Club proud by qualifying for match play before bowing out in the Round of 64. Now Brad Tilley, a member at Sleepy Hollow, will have a chance to become just the second player in U.S. Mid-Amateur history to win  a “home” game.

Coincidentally, that occurred in the Met area when George Zahringer claimed the 2002 championship at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn. Zahringer also became the first medalist in championship history to hoist the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Trophy.

Tilley, 40, of Easton, Conn. but who grew up in Chappaqua, N.Y., has the golf chops to pull off this feat, which only has been accomplished a handful of times. Legendary amateur Carol Semple Thompson won two different championships at Allegheny Country Club, in Sewickley, Pa., and Richard Chapman, a Winged Foot member, won the 1940 U.S. Amateur at the iconic Mamaroneck, N.Y., club.

In the 2017 Mid-Amateur, Tilley, the No. 1 seed and medalist, saw a 5-up lead over eventual champion Matt Parziale evaporate in a 20-hole defeat at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in suburban Atlanta.

A four-time Westchester Golf Association Player of the Year, Tilley, who regained his amateur status in 2016, has good history at both venues. In 2022, he captured the Westchester Open at Sleepy Hollow and the Metropolitan Golf Association Amateur at Fenway, which helped him garner MGA Player of the Year honors.

While playing at the University of Virginia, Tilley finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in 2005, two years after he won the MGA’s prestigious Ike Championship. He also claimed the 2019 MGA Mid-Amateur after being the event’s runner-up in 2017.

To honor Tilley, the USGA is having him hit the opening tee shot at Sleepy Hollow on Saturday morning to kick off the championship.

From Scotland to Sleepy

Two competitors and the victorious USA captain will be teeing it up in the U.S. Mid-Amateur fresh off the 49th Walker Cup Match held last weekend on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad, 32, of Newport Beach, Calif., will arrive off winning two critical singles points for the Americans, who rallied from a three-point deficit on Sunday to post a 14½-11½ victory. This was Hagestad’s fourth consecutive appearance in the biennial competition, and they’ve been all victories.

Now he needs to recover from the jetlag and euphoria of the USA victory to focus on a possible third U.S. Mid-Amateur title, which would tie him with the legendary Jay Sigel and leave him one title shy of three-time Walker Cup competitor Nathan Smith, whose last title came in 2012.

Matthew McClean was one of Great Britain and Ireland’s bell cows last weekend, playing all four sessions and posting a 1-1-2 record. McClean tied both of his singles matches with 2022 U.S. Amateur semifinalist Dylan Menante (Sunday) and 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Preston Summerhays (Saturday). The 30-year-old optometrist now hopes to become the first repeat U.S. Mid-Am champion since Smith in 2009-10.

USA captain Mike McCoy, the 2013 champion, enjoyed one of his biggest golf achievements by leading his charges to a fourth consecutive Walker Cup victory. The 60-year-old from Des Moines, Iowa, had a few days to soak in the win before preparing to tackle Sleepy Hollow and Fenway. He’ll also get to play another USGA championship alongside his 33-year-old son, Nate. The two first competed in the same championship four years ago at the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club. Nate works for the Iowa Golf Association, while Mike is an insurance executive. 

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.