Thanks in part to a timely ace on a par-4, Sammy Schmitz defeated Marc Dull, 3 and 2, in the U.S. Mid-Amateur final to earn his first USGA title and a likely invite to the Masters.
Schmitz, 35, took a 2-up lead at the halfway point of Thursday's 36-hole final on the West Course at John's Island Club in Vero Beach, Fla. While Dull trimmed the deficit to 1-down through 27 holes, Schmitz was again 2-up when he authored the shot of the tournament, making a hole-in-one on the par-4 15th hole, which was playing 260 yards. The ace increased his lead to 3-up with three holes to go, and Schmitz closed out the match with a par on the next hole.
Schmitz's hole-in-one is believed to be only the second par-4 ace in USGA amateur competition.
"I can't believe it," Schmitz told reporters. "I've been hitting driver (on the hole) the entire tournament. I think I've hit the green four times. I just had a good feeling. I can't believe it went in. It's surreal."
Schmitz lives in Farmington, Minn., and is ranked No. 3,724 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He played at St. John's College in Minnesota and currently serves as a regional director for a health care services company. Dull, 29, works as a caddie at Streamsong Resort in Bowling Green, Fla. Schmitz was the No. 8 seed after 36 holes of stroke play trimmed the field to the top 64 players, while Dull was the No. 39 seed.
By reaching the finals, both players were already exempt into the 2016 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills and into sectional qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Open. But only Schmitz will get a trip down Magnolia Lane next spring, the traditional prize that goes to the Mid-Am champ.
The Mid-Amateur is open to amateurs age 25 or older with a USGA handicap index of 3.4 or better.