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Mitchell runs off with State Amateur


ROCKVILLE - Mike Mitchell, with a history of playing extremely well when in a particular groove, found that zone yesterday, as he went 6-under-par for the last 21 holes, winning 11 of them in a 10-and-8 conquest of Dave Rasley for the 84th Maryland State Amateur championship at Norbeck Country Club.

Mitchell, from Columbia Country Club, posted a 2-under-par 69 in the morning round, and, coupled with a 4-over-par 75 by Rasley, went to lunch 6-up. The leader then played the 10 afternoon holes 2-under-par. The margin was the second largest in tournament history, exceeded only by Gary Marlowe's 1980 victory over Butch Clemmens, 11-and-9, at Green Spring Valley Hunt Club.

"I could have played my best and still not won," Rasley said at the finish.

If there were such a thing as a key hole in the one-sided match, it was No. 8 in the morning. In his sixth try of the tournament, Rasley actually parred the 490-yard, par-4 monster, which normally plays as a par-5, only to have Mitchell run in a 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe. The two had halved the first seven holes.

"I started off hitting the ball well, had some good birdie opportunities, but made no putts," said Mitchell, 25, who also owns a Maryland Open and two Washington Metropolitan Amateur crowns. "Then I made that putt. It was straight uphill," and right in. "I didn't realize it at the time, but it got me going."

Rasley's response: "I finally parred the hole for the first time - and he banged his putt right in. [Regardless of what's going on], you have to just play the next shot as well as you can. This time, I did not play well. I did not hit enough quality shots."

Rasley, a two-time champion who at 57 was the oldest player in the draw, pointed out that he did not hit the ball close enough to offset what he called his worst putting round of the year. "I was usually hitting first [with his length] and he never had to see a ball close to the hole. I didn't put any pressure on him."

The longer the tournament went, the more steady and consistent Mitchell became. "Once I got the lead. I did not make any mistakes," declared the University of Virginia graduate, who just completed his first year of law school.

Rasley thought he might be in position to win his first hole of the day when he chipped in for par from just off the back of the 17th green, but Mitchell calmly dropped a 12-foot putt to match him. After 22 empty holes, the retired government worker finally won his only hole, the fifth of the afternoon, when Mitchell three-putted for bogey. Ten years ago, Mitchell won the first of his two Washington Schoolboy titles over this same course. The way he played the final, it would not have mattered where or what the course.

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