USGA Mid-Am opens Saturday in Lake Forest
Scott Rowe, of Hinsdale, studies the lay of the green at the 18th hole at the Western Amateur Championship golf tournament held at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe on Aug. 3, 2010. (Dan Luedert/Staff Photographer)
Updated: September 8, 2012 2:12AM
LAKE FOREST — The United States Golf Association’s 2012 Mid-Amateur Championship will start on Saturday, with 264 golfers from 42 states — and five different countries — descending on Conway Farms Golf Club and Knollwood Club in Lake Forest.
The five-day tournament will start with 18 holes of stroke play on Saturday and Sunday before the field is trimmed to 64 players for the match-play portion of the event at Conway Farms. The winner — and likely recipient of an invitation to the 2013 Masters — will be decided by a 36-hole match on Thursday.
The Mid-Amateur is open to amateur golfers who are at least 25 years old and have a USGA handicap of 3.4 or better. The average age of the competitors in the tournament is 37.7 years old.
There are 16 golfers from Illinois competing in Lake Forest this week. Here’s a look at a few area entrants:
Name: Scott Rowe
Home Course: Chicago Highlands
Tee Times: Saturday 11:55 a.m. (Conway Farms, No. 1); Sunday 7:10 a.m. (Knollwood Club, No. 10).
Background: Rowe spent three and a half years playing professionally in Europe and Asia from 1997-2000, so he isn’t fazed by a little pressure on the golf course.
Not even when that pressure involves a potential Masters exemption.
“This is kind of just another round of golf,” the 37-year-old Rowe said. “There’s another level to my game.”
Rowe played for Northwestern from 1993-97 before turning pro. He was a member of the European Tour and the Asian Tour, where he won the 1998 Maekyeung Open in South Korea. These days, he plays mostly on the weekends and a handful of times each year with clients from Ernst & Young, where he works in the transaction advisory group.
He regained his amateur status in 2004, and qualified for the Mid-Amateur on a rainy day at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Club in Rockford (finishing second with an even-par 71). He wouldn’t mind a little more inclement weather this week.
“I do consider myself a bit of a mudder,” he said.
Rowe was a member at Conway Farms until last year. He said he plans to use his local knowledge to play conservatively on Saturday and Sunday, avoiding major wrecks with an eye on qualifying for match play.
“It’s a long week,” he said. “Survive, get to the top 64, and then it’s anybody’s game.”
Name: Andrew Price
Hometown: Lake Forest
Home Course: Conway Farms
Tee Times: Saturday 7 a.m. (Knollwood Club, No. 1); Sunday 11:45 a.m. (Conway Farms, No. 10)
Background: Price won’t be surprised by anything he sees at Conway Farms this week. He’s been playing the 7,078-yard layout since he was 10 years old.
“I’m hoping there’s an advantage there for me,” Price said. “I’ve played hundreds of rounds. I know everything about the place.”
The 30-year-old Price was a standout in high school at Lake Forest — guiding the Scouts to the Class 2A state title in 1999 — before moving on to Kansas, where he played in 47 collegiate events. He turned pro after college to play in mini-tournaments in Arizona, and qualified for the 2005 John Deere Classic, his only PGA Tour event (he shot 76-78 to miss the cut).
Price is a member at Conway Farms — he has even played a few rounds against Rowe, who he edged by one shot at the Mauh-Nah-Tee-See qualifier — and has played his share of rounds at Knollwood Club as well.
“It’s totally different from Conway,” Price said. “A lot more tree-lined.”
Price will be the first group off of Knollwood Club’s first tee on Saturday. He confessed to feeling some pressure playing the Mid-Amateur on his home course.
“If I can get off to a good start (Saturday), I should be fine,” Price said.
Name: Kyle Nathan
Home Course: Exmoor Country Club
Tee times: Saturday 1:05 p.m. (Knollwood, No. 1); Sunday 8:20 a.m. (Conway Farms, No. 10)
Background: Nathan has heard most of the field’s strategy for the stroke-play portion of the Mid-Amateur Championship.
He’s not so sure it’s the right one.
“I think it’s interesting that a lot of people thought, ‘Let’s play OK at Conway and then play really good at Knollwood,’ ” the 28-year-old Glenview resident said. “After playing Knollwood (Friday), I don’t really think it’s much easier than Conway.
“I think Knollwood is playing long. The rough at Knollwood is some of the longest I’ve ever seen.”
Nathan has seen his share of tough courses. He played four years of college golf — two at Texas A&M before wrapping up his career at Maryland — and turned pro in 2007. He made an 18-month run through the mini-tours before he returned home and took a job at the Chicago Board of Trade.
Nathan has played in a handful of amateur tournaments since regaining his status last fall, and he won the 2012 Illinois Mid-Amateur Championship in Flossmoor. The former New Trier High School golfer qualified with a 70 at Maple Bluff Country Club in Madison, Wis., and has high hopes for this week.
“I think I have a great chance to make match play,” he said. “I think Conway is a really cool course to have a match play tournament. There’s a lot of holes where you can be aggressive and try to make a birdie, but if you miss a shot, it’s probably bogey or even worse.”