Hanes Remains Under Par, Crag Burn Bites Back in Rd 2 of Mid-Am

September 23, 2023

EAST AURORA, N.Y. -- After two rounds at Crag Burn for the 39th NYS Men's Mid-Amateur Championship, only one player remains under par under tough championship conditions on a difficult test of golf.

Defending champion Billy Hanes, who was also the first-round leader, maintained his lead throughout the second round on Saturday.

Related: Scoring / Photos / Rd 1 RecapChampionship Coverage / Pairings / Program 

With conditions being as tough the players have seen, Hanes stayed consistent and was never in trouble during his smooth second round. 

“I think par was probably a 76 or 77 out there today,” said Hanes after his round. “You just really had to grind to make pars and I was able to do that most of the round.”

With two birdies on the scorecard, Hanes shot a 1-over 73 to keep his lead at four strokes over the rest of the field. Hanes knew that going for back-to-back Mid-Amateur titles was going to be a test, but did not expect how tough his home course could play. 

“It’s one of the hardest golf courses I have ever played today,” said Hanes playing in the tough conditions. “It was honestly one of the harder courses I have ever played in my life.”

The Crag Burn member was being followed by fellow members, family, and players for all 18 holes. Hanes does not take that support for granted. 

“I have a great support network,” said Hanes. “Just happy to have enough people in my life that support me in what I do.”

The 5-time NYSGA Champion (2022 Mid-Am, 2000 Boys 14U, 2015, 2018, 2023 Men’s Four-Ball) will have the opportunity to become only the second player in NYS Mid-Amateur history to win back-to-back titles and win in front of his home club.

Joining the final grouping is Sean Paul Owen of Corning Country Club who joined Hanes as only a few players were able to score well on day two. 

Playing in the second to last grouping on Saturday, he had some great stretches of golf including birdies on three of his four holes to begin his second round. Owen gave some shots back down the final stretch, but closed out his round with birdies on 16 and 17. 

“First year I can get in the Mid-Am and it's such a great tournament,” said Owen, who is 26 years old. “I think it will be exciting because this is my first time for me obviously in the last group in one of these tournaments so it will be good to test my game.”

He joined Hanes shooting 1-over 73 in the second round. The Oswego Golf Alumni is playing in his very first NYS Mid-Amateur championship and is looking forward to being in the final group, vying for his very first NYS title. 

Also in the final pairing is Yaroslav Merkulov of Ridgemont Country Club. He played with Owen in the second round and shot a 3-over 75 en route to a solo third position heading into Sunday's final round.

The four-time NYS title champ will be looking to add to his trophy case as he hasn't won since his win at the Men’s Amateur. 

In a tie in fourth place is Jeff March of Penfield Country Club, who shot a 3-over 75, and 2023 NYS Men’s Amateur champion Kyle Downey at 4-over after the second round. Both are looking to bounce back in the final round and put pressure on the top of the leaderboard. 

Playing with them is Brad Monroe of Onondaga Golf & Country Club who after shooting even in his first round, shot a 5-over 77 in round two. Andrew Watson of MGA eClub - Hudson Valley finished in solo seventh as he sits at 6-over for the championship. 

Binghamton Country Club’s Matt Maione sits at 7-over in solo eighth. 

The 36-hole cut fell at 12-over, with the top 30 and ties advancing into Sunday morning’s final round in East Aurora.

The course played 6,953 yards and to a par of 72 in round one.