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Puga, Raath Advance to Mid-Am Final

September 13, 2000

HOT SPRINGS, Va. (AP) _ Californian Greg Puga and South Africa’s Wayne Raath each won two matches Wednesday to advance to the final of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

Puga, 29, a caddie at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, beat Jim Spagnolo of Fort Worth, Texas, 3 and 2 in the semifinals after eliminating fellow Californian Jeff Wilson 2 and 1.

Raath, 25, a graduate assistant golf coach at Florida Southern University, edged Vincent Hamilton of Louisville, Ky., 3 and 2 in the semifinals. Raath beat Randy Nichols of Connersville, Ind., in 19 holes in the quarterfinals on The Homesteads Cascades Course.

``It’ll be whoever can just grind it out,″ Raath said of the final, which will produce the youngest champion in the event’s 20-year history. ``You’re going to miss a couple of greens. If you miss them, the guy who is going to get it up and down and make the clutch putts, is the guy who is going to win. It’s going to be a pretty good match because there’s a lot at stake.″

Bill Loeffler, the 1986 champion, is the youngest previous winner in the tournament for players age 25 and older.

``I have to stay focused and play my game,″ Puga said. ``If I play like I did today, pretty much hitting every fairway and missing maybe two or three greens, I’ll be pretty tough to beat.″

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