Zahringer Wins US Mid-Amateur

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GREENWICH, Conn. -- George Zahringer defeated Jerry Courville 3-and-2 in the 36-hole final of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Thursday. Zahringer, who is a member of the host Stanwich Club, earned his first U.S. Mid-Amateur title.
 
'I am thrilled beyond words is really the best way to express it,' said Zahringer, who captured his first USGA championship. 'It was just a great day. I worked hard to try and stay focused. It's easy while playing a 36-hole match to let your mind race ahead.'
 
Courville, the 1995 champion and 1999 runner-up from Milford, Conn., battled a sore back throughout the match. The players also fought the elements, as a light but steady rain fell during the 36-hole match.
 
'It felt like I was playing in a straight jacket on out there,' said Courville.
 
The first 18 holes of the match were close throughout. Zahringer was 1-up for five of the first nine holes, but extended that lead to 3-up through 16 holes. Courville rallied to win 17 and 18 to finish the first 18 holes 1-down.
 
After Zahringer won the first two holes in the afternoon, Courville rebounded to win three straight holes and halve the match with a par at the 23rd hole. Courville again evened the match at the 26th hole, but Zahringer won four of the next five to go 4-up with five holes remaining.
 
The 49-year-old Zahringer, who was the 2001 runner-up, halved the 32nd hole with a par. Courville then made a great birdie on the 33rd hole to stay alive. His drive went well left off the tee and ended in the first cut of rough on the adjacent fifth hole. He then stuck a 7-iron within 20 feet and made the birdie putt.
 
Courville's tee shot to the 165-yard par-3 16th, the 34th hole of the match, landed in a greenside bunker while Zahringer found the front of the green. Courville blasted out of the wet bunker and over the green. Zahringer lagged his putt within a few feet and Courville conceded the putt and the match.
 
The finalists each live within 40 miles of the club. Zahringer is a nine-time Metropolitan Golf Association Player of the Year, while Courville has earned the Met honors four times.
 
The U.S. Mid-Amateur, for players 25 and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
 
The 2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship will be played at Wilmington Country Club in Greenville, Delaware, from October 11-16.