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Kevin O’Connell wins US Mid-Amateur in all-NC final

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin O’Connell won an all-North Carolina final in the U.S. Mid-Amateur, beating Brett Boner 4 and 3 on Thursday at Charlotte Country Club for a likely Masters invitation.

O’Connell, a 30-year-old former golf equipment representative from Cary, also earned spots in the U.S. Open next year at Pebble Beach and the next two U.S. Amateurs.

“You will be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of the game than me and I certainly understand the importance of the USGA, and how great their championships are,” O’Connell said. “To be the champion right now is probably what I am most proud of and focused on. Just simply being a champion. All the stuff that comes along with it, I think that will hit me a little big later on.”

The 44-year-old Boner, a financial adviser in Charlotte, is a reinstated amateur. He played at Auburn.

“It’s a very bittersweet ending because I played really poorly today for the most part,” Boner said. “I made some bad decisions that I didn’t realize at the time. Maybe experience has something to do with it.”

O’Connell won Nos. 10-14 to take a 5-up lead, was 3 up at the break, and never let Boner get any closer. After a 70-minute delay because of a thunderstorm, the former University of North Carolina player ended it with a par-4 halve on the par-4 33rd.

“It’s nice to be able to two-putt to get the win,” O’Connell said. “Often times you have to make a putt to win. And then afterward, it’s kind of immediate joy. It’s just an incredible feeling.”

The Mid-Am is limited to players 25 and older.

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