In one of the most dramatic comebacks in Maryland Open history, Mike Mitchell fired a 69 today at Hillendale Country Club to win the 78th annual Maryland State Golf Association tournament. Mitchell, 19, a junior at the University of Virginia and a 1997 Georgetown Prep graduate, finished at 11-under-par 205 to win the 54-hole tournament by three strokes.
It was the second tournament victory in four days for Mitchell, who had trailed second-round leader Dirk Schultz by five strokes. He also won the Washington Metropolitan Golf Association's men's amateur Sunday. Schultz, 34, the head professional at Beaver Creek Country Club in Hagerstown, shot a 77 in the final round -- an 11-stroke turnaround from his second-round 66. His two-day total of 131 set a tournament record.
This is the second consecutive year an amateur has won the Maryland Open. Defending champion Keith Unikel, a senior at the University of Maryland, was third at 211.
Mitchell's comeback evoked memories of current PGA Tour pro and former University of Maryland golf coach Fred Funk's remarkable win in 1987. Funk shot a 65 on the final day at Fountain Head to win by six strokes, erasing Webb Heintzelman's four-stroke second-round lead.
Mitchell began his charge early, with the turning point coming on the fourth hole. Mitchell's ball was buried in the right bunker, leaving him with no other shot than to blast it out toward the green. The ball landed at the back of the green, resting on the fringe, but Mitchell made a sweeping 45-foot downhill putt with about a 20-foot break that slid into the cup for par.
"That kind of set the tone," Mitchell said. "After I made that putt, I knew today's round was something special."
Schultz wasn't as lucky getting out of the left bunker on that hole and ended up taking a bogey. That began a string of four consecutive bogeys for Schultz.
Schultz finished the round with seven bogeys and two birdies. Mitchell made six birdies and three bogeys.
Mitchell has his sights on making the U.S. Amateur qualifier Aug. 2 at Pebble Beach. When he was 15, Mitchell became the fourth-youngest qualifier for that event.