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4 Former Champs Advance at Amateur

October 6, 1998

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) _ Medalist Steve Sheehan and four former champions won their opening matches Monday at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at NCR Country Club.

Sheehan, 45, of Reno, Nev., stroke-play qualifying at 5-under-par 136. He never trailed Monday in defeating Steve Smyers of Lakeland, Fla., 2 and 1.

John ``Spider″ Miller, of Bloomington, Ind., the 1996 champion, David Eger, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., who won in 1988, Jerry Courville, of Milford, Conn., the 1995 winner, and Jim Stuart, of Macon, Ga., the champion in 1990 and 1991, were the past champions who advanced to Tuesday’s second round.

Courville and Phil Ebner, of Minneapolis, played a Mid-Amateur record nine extra holes before Courville won with a 35-foot birdie putt.

``I just couldn’t make any putts and he was making some great saves,″ Courville, 39, said. ``I was so tired out there I was swinging from memory on the last couple holes.″

Miller beat Matt Einspar, of Brookings, S.D., 5 and 4, while Eger eliminated Eddie Hargett, of Blythewood, S.C., 5 and 3, and Stuart beat Alex Stamey, of Mill Creek, Wash., 2 and 1.

Stewart ``Buddy″ Alexander of Gainesville, Fla., was the only one of three former U.S. Amateur champions to advance. The 1986 Amateur champion defeated Chip Travis, of Hinsdale, Ill., 2 and 1. Mitch Voges, of Simi Valley, Calif., and John Harris of Edina, Minn., the 1991 and 1993 Amateur champions respectively, lost.

The third round is also scheduled for Tuesday with the finals to be played Thursday.

The Mid-Amateur, for players at least 35 years old, is one of 13 national championships conducted by the U.S. Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.