Mercer captures first WPGA title in Mid-Amateur Championship
Posted August 29, 2017 - By Mike Dudurich, Freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich
Mitch Mercer with the John Birmingham Trophy after winning the 32nd West Penn Mid-Amateur Championship.
It was an amazing Monday for Pittsburgh’s Mitch Mercer.
The 30-year-old had a birthday a couple weeks ago and celebrated in a great way for a golfer Monday. Mercer played in the 32nd West Penn Golf Association at Green Oaks Country Club, but not only played in it, he won it.
The victory was Mercer’s first in a WPGA event, cause enough to celebrate, but he also realized the larger significance of that win.
“It’s always a good feeling if you can beat a field like this one,” Mercer said. “This is a good field, plenty of tough guys here. But there’s a lot of history in this event and it’s great to be a part of it.”
The roster of champions in the Mid-Am is dotted with names of the best amateurs since 1985. And it has been dominated by the very best amateurs. Sean Knapp has won it nine times; Nathan Smith, John Jones and Arnie Cutrell have each won it three times.
That adds up to 18 titles by that trio in the 32 years it’s been held.
In the morning round of the 36-hole competition, Mercer put up three birdies, an eagle and a pair of bogeys for a three-under par 68. He eagled the 499-yard par five.
In the afternoon, Mercer made a bogey on the par three third, but scored a hat trick of birdies on the seventh, eighth and ninth holes to make the turn at two-under 34 and was five-under overall.
And when he made birdies on 12 and 13, he moved to seven-under and seemed to be in solid control. But two bogeys and a triple bogey in the last five holes made things a lot more interesting than Mercer would have liked.
“It was one hole that got me on the back,” he said. “My tee shot on 16 went in the bunker and I left it in there, finally got it out and then three-putted for triple. I missed a four-footer for par on 17, but 16 was the one that got me.”
Mercer was the only player in the field to finish under par.
The 72 Mercer finished with was good enough to beat Rick Stimmel, who finished two shots back at 142. In his morning round, he made a birdie and bogey on the front nine and two bogeys and two birdies on the back nine.
His second round started off in a similar way to his first 18. Two birdies, two bogeys led to an even-par 35. Stimmel was poised to make a run but got off to a double bogey, bogey start that was somewhat negated by three bogeys, but could do no better than even par, two shots behind Mercer.
Drew Scibetta of Pittsburgh, Mark Cimarolli of Bridgeville and Mike Wickett of Allison Park all finished at 143.M
Cutrell, who won the Mid-Am in 2004, 2005 and 2011, was in good position after his first-round 70, but finished with a 76 in the afternoon to fall out of competition.
Neither Smith, who withdrew because of a work conflict, nor Knapp, who is competing in the U.S. Senior Amateur and won his first-round match Monday, were in the field at Green Oaks, which played to 6,476 yards.