Familiar Faces in Quarterfinals


USGAWILMINGTON, Del. -- Two former Mid-Amateur champions moved into the quarterfinal round of the championship Tuesday at Wilmington Country Club, while another player fell short in making a surge toward the title in memory of his late father.
Defending champion George Zahringer, 50, of New York, N.Y., and 44-year-old Jerry Courville (1995 winner) of Milford, Conn., were models of efficiency in their third-round matches, capping a day in which the second and third rounds were played on the 6,978-yard par 71 South Course.
In the meantime, 31-year-old David Noll Jr. of Dalton, Ga., couldnt get by Jack Allara, 48, of Salem, Va., losing 2 down. Noll Jr. had gotten 2 up after the fifth hole before Allara fought back.
Noll Jr. almost withdrew from the championship on the heels of his fathers death nine days ago. But with a heavy heart, he carried on. He and his caddie wore orange ribbons on their hats to honor David Noll Sr., who had succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Noll Sr. had been an avid Tennessee Volunteers fan.
Earlier in the day, Noll Jr. had dispatched the highly-touted Trip Kuehne, 31, of Dallas, Texas, 1 up.
The match earlier was championship caliber, said Noll Jr. I had to put so much into it, maybe I was mentally lax [against Allara].
Ive yet to have any time to grieve. I was using this as inspiration for what I was trying to achieve.
What Zahringer is trying to accomplish is something for the history books. In beating 25-year-old Ryan Quinn of Eau Claire, Wis., Zahringer kept open the hope of becoming the first player since Jim Stuart (1990, 1991) to win consecutive titles. If Zahringer makes it to the final, hell become the only player in the history of the championship to make it that far three years in a row.
Thats not the only record keeping.
With Courville and 35-year-old Patrick Carter of Lesage, Va., moving forward, Carter, Courville and Zahringer all made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur and Mid-Amateur this year. The last player to do that in the same year was Sean Knapp in 1998.
Not bad for the old guys in the field.
Ive lost in the quarterfinals before, said Carter, with two other Mid-Amateur quarterfinal appearances before. I cant let my mind wander and think too far ahead.
Said Courville after beating Paul Winterowd, 26, of Salt Lake City, Utah, 4 and 3, to secure his seventh Mid-Amateur quarterfinal appearance: It hasnt really sunk in yet to be honest with you. But this is my U.S. Open.
I never consider myself a favorite. Im too old for that.
On the flip side, 25-year-old Nathan Smith, 25, is bidding to become the youngest champion ever. Smith eliminated Don Dubois, 44, of Newport Beach, Calif., 1 up. Holding the mark as the youngest winner, Greg Puga of Los Angeles was 29 years, 10 months and 29 days old when he won in 2000.
Also advancing were 44-year-old Bryan Norton of Mission Hills, Kan., who had knocked off medalist Tripp Davis, 36, of Norman, Okla., earlier in the day; Rick Reinsberg, 31, of Lafayette, Calif.; and Alan Hill, 41, of Spring Branch, Texas.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateur.