{{featured_button_text}}
080414-blm-spt-6medalgolf

Bloomington's Todd Mitchell, shown here in 2014, advanced in match play Wednesday in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Olympia Fields. Alex Burge of Bloomington also advanced. 

OLYMPIA FIELDS — The best amateur golfers in the world have converged at Olympia Fields Country Club outside of Chicago this week.

Two of them are from Bloomington — and both are among the 32 golfers who will still be playing Thursday out of the original 312-man field.

Alex Burge and Todd Mitchell earned victories in first-round matches Wednesday in the 115th U.S. Amateur Championship on Olympia Fields' North Course.

Burge never trailed in defeating Sam Stevens of Wichita, Kan., 5 and 4. That advanced Burge into a second-round match at 7 a.m. Thursday against Kyle Mueller of Watkinsville, Ga., who upset qualifying medalist Brett Coletta of Australia, 1-up.

Meanwhile, Mitchell let a 3-up lead with six holes left slip away before making a 5-foot par putt on No. 18 to take a 1-up victory over Chase Koepka of West Palm Beach, Fla.

Mitchell faces 17-year-old Ryan Ruffles of Australia, the No. 9-ranked amateur in the world, at 7:20 a.m. Thursday.

Third-round matches will be played Thursday afternoon. Fox Sports 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m.

Burge, 23, who will be playing his final season for the University of Illinois, used birdies on Nos. 4 and 5 to take a 2-up lead. He won Nos. 9-11 with pars to forge a 5-up advantage.

Stevens, an Oklahoma State junior, birdied No. 12 before his bogey at the 14th sealed Burge's victory.

"It was a solid day. I was even-par on a windy day," said Burge. "I didn't really change my mindset from what the first two days (of qualifying) was; just hit fairways and greens and try to have other people make mistakes. I did a pretty good job of that today and it turned out well."

Mitchell, 37, also never trailed. He won three straight holes starting at No. 5 to earn a 3-up lead. Koepka, a University of South Florida senior and brother of PGA Tour member Brooks Koepka, won No. 11 before Mitchell took the next hole to regain a 3-up advantage.

But Mitchell bogeys at Nos. 13, 16 and 17 allowed Koepka to square the match before Mitchell's par at the 458-yard, par-4 18th gave him the win. It was Mitchell's first match-play victory in seven U.S. Amateur appearances.

"I knew it was going to be tough. Everyone knows who Chase Koepka is, one of the best amateurs in the world (ranked No. 80)," said Mitchell, the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up. "We both made some mistakes. It's hard to describe how difficult it's playing out there."

Mitchell's second shot on No. 18 went into a deep green side bunker before he blasted out to set up the winning putt.

"I just knew where I wanted to start it (just outside the hole) and knew how hard to hit it," he said. "That's all I thought of."

Burge was seeded No. 33 after qualifying with a 1-over-par 141 total on the North and South courses. Mitchell finished his second qualifying round earlier Wednesday, after darkness halted play Tuesday, with a birdie on No. 9 of the South Course for a 2-under-par 68 and 142 total to be seeded No. 40 for match play.

Be the first to know - Sign up for Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
0
0
0
0
0

Reporter

Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

Load comments