Three-time champion Trevor Randolph of Arcola put himself in position to win an unprecedented fourth title when he advanced to the semifinals of the 35th NJSGA Mid-Amateur Championship at The Bedens Brook Club in Skillman.
It took a 2 and 1 victory over 2007 champion Mike Deo of Black Oak to get Randolph to Thursday morning’s semifinal round against Chester Patterson of The NJSGA E-Club. Randolph, 45, won the Mid-Amateur in 2013, 2015, 2016.
In the other quarterfinal matches, Patterson bested Tom Collins, 3 and 1, Michael Brown of Darlington topped Tyler Duke of Rumson, 3 and 2, and Dan Macdonald of Arcola ousted John Meyers of Moggy Brook, 2 and 1.
Thursday morning’s semifinals will feature Randolph vs. Patterson and Brown vs. Macdonald. The two winners square off in the final match on Thursday afternoon.
Besides Randolph, only Tom Gramigna of Tavistock has been victorious in three NJSGA Mid-Amateur championships, winning in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
In the Round of 16, Patterson defeated Tom Guy of The Eligo Club, 1 up.; Collins defeated Kevin Guidera of Galloping Hill, 5 and 4; Deo defeated Matt Finger of Darlington, 1 up; Randolph defeated Mark Costanza of Hamilton Farm, 3 and 2; Duke defeated Eric LeFante of Somerset Hills, 2 and 1; Brown defeated Nick Desai of Baltusrol, 6 and 5; Meyers defeated James Arbus of The NJSGA E-Club, 1 up, and Macdonald defeated Fraser Graham of Bedens Brook, 1 up.
Randolph totaled six birdies to turn back Deo, who had five birdies himself, including his final one on No. 16. Randolph had been down three holes after seven before turning things around. He won holes eight through 12, including birdie victories on Nos. 9 and 10, and par victories on the other three.
“I’m very excited about tomorrow. Nobody has won this event four times. I’m looking forward to it,” said Randolph, won recently paired with Darin Goldstein of Bayonne in the U.S. Four-Ball Championship. They lost in the first round of match play.
“Each match today was tough. I was under par all day, but it was still tough. I’m fortunate to have gotten this far.”
Randolph defeated Patterson, 3 and 1, in the round of 16 in 2015 at Trump National-Bedminster on his way to his second of three Mid-Amateur championships.
Against Collins, Patterson used a borrowed driver, made several up-an-downs and putted well to advance to the semifinals for the first time.
“I broke my driver on Sunday, and used a borrowed one on Tuesday that I didn’t like. But the pro here, Paul Poandl, lent me a demo driver and I hit it well all day,” said Patterson, 35, a resident of Basking Ridge and former member of the golf team at Villanova University.
“We had a good match. It went back and forth.”
Brown, 45, is a former professional mini-tour player who reached the Mid-Amateur semifinals last year before losing to eventual champion Peter Barron of Stone Harbor.
“I love this course. You have to think from tee to green. It’s really difficult around the greens. My short game has been keeping me around. I’m looking forward to hitting it well tomorrow,” said Brown, a resident of Cherry Hill, who carded three birdies against Duke, including a conceded birdie on No. 16, the final hole.
Macdonald, 37, collected four birdies to defeat Meyers, and led the entire match.
“Limiting the damage was good. This afternoon, I drove it better and made some nice 15-footers. I applied a lot of pressure. It was nice not to have to force anything,” said Macdonald, a resident of Ridgewood.
Last summer he won both the Travis Invitational at Garden City Golf Club and the Hochster Memorial Invitational at Quaker Ridge Golf Club.
“That helped me build some confidence coming into this season,” Macdonald said.
In the Round of 16, Deo had advanced against Finger by scoring birdies on his final two holes.
“I never led until the final hole. I got a birdie on 18 when I hit a 6-iron out of the left rough to four feet. On the first playoff hole, on No. 1, I hit a 9-iron to 25 feet and made a left-to-right putt for another birdie,” Deo said.
Then he went out and gave Randolph a tough match.
“There are tricky greens here. You have to give yourself the right angles to the pins. You’ve got to think out here. I played great this morning. I was four under on my first nine holes,” Randolph said.
“To win in match play, you’ve got to make birdies and avoid mental mistakes. Another key is to get up early on your opponent and play aggressive, put the pressure on him and hope that he’ll make the mistakes.”