With Help from Ex-Champ, Krystyn Fires 63
Denver golfer earns medalist honors in U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifying
by Gary Baines
Bill Loeffler has an important week ahead as he defends his title in the HealthOne Colorado Senior Open, but he wasn’t too busy to lend a friend a helping hand with something Loeffler knows a little about.
Among the three national golf titles Loeffler has won is the 1986 U.S. Mid-Amateur. So who better to serve as a caddie in U.S. Mid-Amateur Sectional Qualifying than Loeffler?
Tom Krystyn of Denver (pictured) made the most of having his longtime friend on the bag, shooting the lowest round of his life to earn medalist honors in Monday’s qualifier at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder. Krystyn, a 46-year-old sales representative for FootJoy, fired a bogey-free 7-under-par 63, falling just a stroke shy of Matt Call’s competitive course record.
“Bill is a good friend of mine and I’ve played a lot of golf with him,“ Krystyn said. “He helped keep me relaxed and focused out there.”
Krystyn hit every green in regulation -- something he said might be a first for him -- in winning the qualifying tournament by four strokes. He was one of five qualifiers for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, which is limited to players 25 and older. Also advancing out of Monday’s qualifying field of 73 were Jim Doidge of Pueblo (67), former professional Keith Humerickhouse of New Castle (68), and David Stewart and Jason Coffin, both of Denver (69). The U.S. Mid-Amateur will be held Sept. 25-30 at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Stewart, who moved to Denver from New York earlier this month, and Coffin earned their berths in a five-man playoff for the final two spots. Stewart made the lone par on the first extra hole to advance, while Coffin got up and down for par on the second playoff hole to secure the final position. Danny Riskam of Broomfield will be the first alternate and Ray Makloski of Pueblo the second. Riskam, Makloski and recent U.S. Amateur competitor Michael Harrington were the other participants in the playoff after shooting 69 in regulation, but all three of them bogeyed each of the first two extra holes.
Doidge will be playing in his fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur and Krystyn in his second. Humerickhouse, Coffin and Stewart will be competing in their first USGA championship of any sort.
Krystyn won a couple of college tournaments while at Florida State and qualified for the 1984 U.S. Amateur, but until Monday he hadn’t earned a spot in a USGA event since the 1992 U.S. Mid-Am. Monday’s seven-birdie round ended the drought with an exclamation point.
“I didn’t have much confidence coming into this,” he said. “I’ve been putting well but haven’t been hit it very well. But Bill did a great job caddying for me. I just played conservatively -- I knew I couldn’t hit too many drivers on this course -- and I stuck to my plan. It obviously worked today.”
And what has Loeffler had to say about competing in the U.S. Mid-Amateur?
“He’s let me know that he’s won it before,” Krystyn said of the three-time HealthOne Colorado Open champion. “He gives me a hard time about that.”
This will be the fifth USGA championship overall for Doidge, who played in the 2008 U.S. Amateur in addition to his three previous U.S. Mid-Ams.
“It’s a lot of fun,” the financial advisor said. “I’m 35, and you know you get fewer and fewer chances (as time goes on). It was kind of an advantage for me to play a (relatively tight, tree-lined) golf course like this because I don’t hit it as far as some of the other players. The younger players hit it farther every year.”
Doidge took advantage of being in the first group off the No. 1 tee. With pure greens, he drained three birdie putts on his first seven holes.
“I thought it was a big advantage to have that 7 o’clock tee time, especially on this course,” Doidge said. “That was a good break. The greens are really soft and they’ll get a lot of footprints (as the day goes on). We could tell a big difference on the front nine when we didn’t have anyone in front of us.”
Humerickhouse, 34, who was reinstated as an amateur a year ago after being a pro from 1998 to 2007, continued his recent roll. Just over a week ago, he won the amateur division in the Enstrom’s Rocky Mountain Open in Grand Junction. On Monday, Humerickhouse used an eagle on the 14th hole to carry him to a national berth.
“I’m super stoked” about qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Am, said Humerickhouse, who owns a hardwood flooring business near Glenwood Springs. “I’ve been waiting for this all summer.”
As for Stewart, he will be returning to New York -- where he just moved from -- to compete in the U.S. Mid-Am.
“It’s great that it’s back in New York this year,” said Stewart, 31, a member at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.
Like Stewart, Coffin will be competing in his first USGA event. The 27-year-old former University of Denver golfer rallied with a 3-under-par 32 on his back nine to earn a spot in Monday’s playoff.
“It feels really, really good,” he said of making his USGA championship debut. “I’m pretty excited about it.”
U.S. Mid-Amateur Sectional Qualifying
ALTERNATES (IN ORDER)
FAILED TO QUALIFY