Pinehurst Tournaments Archive

The 117th North & South Amateur – The Contenders

A year ago, this is how we opened the Contenders piece for the 116th North & South Amateur, with our footnotes added this year:

Sean Walsh is the defending North & South Amateur champion. Andrew Buchanan is coming off a USGA championship. Surely one of them should be considered the tournament favorite for the championship, which begins Monday for 116th consecutive year.*

*Amazingly, we could write the same lead to this story, but just change a couple of names. Like this:

Tim Conover is the defending North & South Amateur champion. Ben Wong is coming off a USGA championship. Surely one of them should be considered the tournament favorite for the championship, which begins Monday for the 117th consecutive year.

Conover has had a fine year since surprising even himself in winning the North & South. And Ben Wong won on Pinehurst No. 2 just four weeks ago – at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Amazing.

Or the favorite could be any number of players with past North & South experience, especially with the championship returning to the demanding Pinehurst No. 2 for all rounds. Or it could be a player with a combination of North & South and USGA championship experience.*

*This is a long list as well for this year.

Or, it could be anyone at all in the deep field, much like Walsh himself, who despite a strong junior season at Gonzaga in 2015 came into the North & South under the radar before beating George Cunningham 3 & 1 to earn his first Putter Boy trophy.*

*Speaking of George Cunningham, he reached the semifinals again last year, and is back in the field again this year.

And so now, here’s our attempt to highlight some of the top contenders for the 117th North & South Amateur. And if you don’t see the name of the eventual champion here when you check back next week, it wouldn’t be anything new.

But, after seeing this list, it will certainly have been impressive.

THE CONTENDERS

TIM CONOVER The defending champion must get his due, and Conover gets it here. Moreover, Conover had previous success in the North & South even before winning, reaching the match play quarterfinals in 2015. He’s had a brilliant season at East Carolina this year, winning the 2016 Wolfpack Fall Intercollegiate and 2017 East Carolina Intercollegiate to go with five top 10 finishes. And he’s still only a junior.

BEN WONG Anyone who followed Wong and his fellow teenage teammate Frankie Capan as they toured No. 2 in winning the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball knows the SMU recruit has a ton of game. Carrying the trophy following his dramatic win, Wong remarked that he had never played in the North & South, but that “it’s going to be awesome to be back here in a month.” Never doubt confidence and momentum.

CAMERON CHAMP We’ll let Golf.com’s Jeff Ritter tell the story here, since it was just a week ago:

Meet Cameron Champ, the young man bestowed with the greatest name in the field, if not golf history. He’s gearing up for his senior year on the Texas A&M University golf team, and on summer break he decided to take a stab at qualifying for his first-ever U.S. Open. Now here he is. On Thursday he celebrated his 22nd birthday at Erin Hills. On Friday he completed his second round. How’s that working out?

He’s five under, thick in the hunt. Oh, and he’s leading the field in driving distance.

That’s right: Champ is hitting it past Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. He’s also whipping each of them on the leader board. It’s been a remarkable performance, but the story doesn’t feel like a fluke. It feels like the birth of a future star.

Will Grimmer, left, won medalist honors at last month’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship with teammate Clark Engle.

WILL GRIMMER By now, you know Grimmer’s ties to Pinehurst. He’s Kid 59, he played as the youngest competitor in the 2014 U.S. Open, has a couple of North & South Amateurs under his belt and even played U.S. Kids events here. And at the Four-Ball, he added to his story, teaming with Clark Engle to earn medalist honors after stroke play. Grimmer, who won this season at Ohio State, is always comfortable in Pinehurst.

David Kocher won the 2014 North & South Junior.

DAVID KOCHER Just like Grimmer, Kocher always seems to play well in Pinehurst events. A standout already in Carolinas amateur golf, Kocher also starred at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, reaching match play in the event for the second straight year (despite at least one wild hole one day). Kocher already has his named emblazoned in bronze in the History Hall at Pinehurst as the 2014 North & South Junior champion. He’s hoping to become the second player to win both the Junior and Men’s North & South championships (Michael Cromie).

ALEX SMALLEY Like Champ, Smalley is coming off playing in the U.S. Open in Erin Hills. He also was the medalist at the 2016 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills, recording the second-lowest stroke play total in U.S. Amateur history. He’s one of Duke’s top players, earning five top 5 finishes this season, and is a veteran of the North & South Amateur.

GEORGE CUNNINGHAM Cunningham played for the North & South Amateur championship in 2015, then returned in 2016 and marched to the semifinals before falling just short again. Cunningham had a strong junior year at Arizona, leading the Wildcats in scoring average (73.06) and was par or better in a third of his competitive rounds.

OTHERS TO WATCH As always the field is deep, and any number of players could storm to a win this week. Here are a few more names to watch:

A.J. Beechler – He’s coming off leading the local Pinecrest Patriots to another state title, and he’s an absolute bulldog on the course. It’s a big future for Beechler.

Eric Bennett – Every year, Pinehurst hosts a caddie tournament. It’s been happening as long as there have been caddies at Pinehurst and is named after legendary looper Fletcher Gaines, who won the tournament a record seven times. Bennett, though, has now won five times. Now he takes his chances at the North & South.

Joshua Martin – One of the best junior players to ever come out of Pinehurst, Martin won the Donald Ross Junior Championship three times. He’s always a threat at home.

William Register – A veteran of Carolinas Golf amateur events and multitime North & South competitor, Register reached the semifinals a year ago.

Eric Bae – Bae won the 2016 high school state championship for himself and his team, the local Pinecrest Patriots, with a clutch birdie putt at the last hole.

Zachary Bachou – One of the best junior golfers of the last few years, Bachou nearly won the North & South in 2013 before falling in a tight match against Andrew Dorn.

Stephen Franken – The N.C. State golfer was the medalist following stroke play the 2016 North & South.

Louis Dobbelaar – From Australia, the youngest player in the field at 16 years old is the cousin of Pinehurst No. 9 golf professional Gordon McKinlay.

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Born after Payne’s 1999 win, teens Capan and Wong prevail at Pinehurst in U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

With power off the tee and brilliant putting, Capan and Wong Win 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship

May 27-31, 2017, Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course Nos. 2 and 8)
Village of Pinehurst, N.C. | www.usga.org/fourball | #USFourBall

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. (May 31, 2017) – The first two editions of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship produced a pair of mid-amateur champions and two college teammates, respectively. The third went to a duo of rising high school seniors.

Seventeen-year-olds Frankie Capan and Shuai Ming (Ben) Wong, who were unceremoniously eliminated in the Round of 16 last year at Winged Foot Golf Club, registered five birdies over the final eight holes in producing a 2-and-1 victory on Wednesday over Kyle Hudelson and Clark Collier at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2.

Wong, who was born in Hong Kong, China, but has lived the last three years in The Woodlands, Texas, delivered the final blow, holing a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th green.

“Those kids, oh my goodness,” said Collier. “Those guys are going to be pros. They are really, really good.”

The victory certainly was sweet redemption for Capan and Wong.

Ben Wong hugs teammate Frankie Capan after Wong made the clinching birdie putt on the 17th green of Pinehurst No. 2 to capture the 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on Wednesday. (Copyright: USGA/Chris Keane)

“It’s pretty unreal. It’s still sinking in,” said Wong, who has committed to play at Southern Methodist University in 2018, the same school that produced last year’s champions, Benjamin Baxter and Andrew Buchanan, and the late Payne Stewart, who claimed the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and whose bronze statue with his famous fist-pump pose from the 72nd hole greets resort visitors behind the 18th green of Course No. 2.

“I know he was watching over … and it’s pretty special to me what happened in 1999,” said Wong, who was born five months after Stewart’s victory.

“The last putt on 17, Frankie and I had the mentality of us always being 1 down and playing our hardest. Right now it’s just kind of sinking in that we won the whole thing. We obviously played our best golf this week, and [I am] just really, really just overwhelmed right now.”

Added Capan, of North Oaks, Minn., who has committed to play for the University of Alabama in 2018: “This format is just so much fun. To have it end like that, we were just pumped to get back and get another shot at it.”

Frankie Capan and Ben Wong stand with the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball trophy on Pinehurst No. 2. (Copyright: USGA/Chris Keane)

USGA officials set up the 7,161-yard, par-70 layout for the final day of match play – which included the semifinal and championship matches – using the same hole locations from the final rounds of the previous three U.S. Opens conducted on Course No. 2 (1999, 2005 and 2014).

Although the final never reached No. 18 and the famous back-right hole location where Stewart dramatically converted an 18-foot par putt to defeat Phil Mickelson by one stroke for his second U.S. Open title, Wong felt his spirit, especially after receiving a text from SMU coach Jason Enloe to remind him about Stewart’s heroics. Stewart died in a plane crash four months later, but members and resort guests are reminded of his 1999 triumph, from photos and memorabilia inside the clubhouse to the statue outside it.

“I know he was watching over … and it’s pretty special to me what happened in 1999,” said Wong, who was born five months after Stewart’s victory.

Perhaps Wong vicariously felt Stewart’s legacy, especially during the second nine when he began the side’s comeback from a 2-down deficit by converting a 20-foot birdie on the par-5 10th. He also birdied No. 12 from 8 feet to square the match and then helped the side halve No. 13 by holing a 3-footer. On No. 14, Capan hit a remarkable approach from the sandy area right of the fairway to within 12 feet. His birdie would eventually be conceded after Hudelson and Collier made their lone bogey of the match.

Clark Collier and Kyle Hudelson at the second tee during the semifinal round of match play at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

By then, the momentum had switched. Collier missed a 15-foot birdie chance to win the par-3 15th and on No. 17, Wong stuffed his 7-iron tee shot to 10 feet.

“I flushed it, like absolutely flushed it, and I was in the zone,” said Wong of the tee shot. “I knew they were going to make par, so I just had to close it out.”

The champions each receive a gold medal, custody of the Four-Ball trophy for one year and a 10-year exemption to the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, while the runners-up received silver medals and a three-year exemption, provided the sides remain intact.

The exemptions were sweet music to the ears of Collier, 27, and Hudelson, 29, who a week ago got the call from the USGA to tell the Oklahoma City natives – the former now lives in Dallas and the latter in Scottsdale, Ariz. – they were in the field as alternates.

And what a whirlwind week it was.

The longtime friends nearly made the seemingly impossible dream come true. Their run to the championship match included a pair of 19-hole victories – one of which occurred in Wednesday morning’s semifinals against 2016 semifinalists Patrick Christovich and Garrett Rank – and a 1-up quarterfinal victory over 2015 champions Nathan Smith and Todd White, two of the more decorated mid-amateur golfers in the country. Smith owns a record four U.S. Mid-Amateur titles and both were members of the victorious 2013 USA Walker Cup Team.

“We have no history. You could Google us and the only thing that would pop up is this championship. You’d have to search deep into Google.” -Kyle Hudelson

Hudelson and Collier don’t have any such credentials; this was, in fact, their first-ever USGA championship. Thanks to Cole Hammer and Philip Barbaree, an exempt team that was forced to withdraw when the latter’s Louisiana State University golf team advanced to the NCAA Championship, they got a chance to compete.

Treating this unexpected trip to the Sandhills like a couple of buddies on vacation, Collier and Hudelson arrived with a carefree spirit that quickly won over spectators. Their nothing-to-lose attitude, laughter between shots and kinship kept them loose the entire week.

“We have no history,” Hudelson said after their semifinal win. “You could Google us and the only thing that would pop up is this championship. You’d have to search deep into Google.

“I was joking with Clark that we got a year’s worth of pressure golf shots packed into one week.”

Added Collier: “This might be more rounds of golf than I’ve put on the books this year.”

The gallery following the players down the fourth fairway during the final round of match play at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. The gallery continued to grow throughout the match. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

Collier and Hudelson jumped out to a quick 2-up lead with birdies on the opening two holes, only to see Wong convert a 5-foot birdie on the third hole that trimmed the deficit in half. A two-putt birdie on the par-5 fifth hole restored Collier and Hudelson’s 2-up lead before the young teens began their second-nine comeback.

“We were fortunate to keep it at 2,” said Capan of the early deficit. “I know in match play the difference between 2 down and 3 down is a lot. So I think we made a clutch par on hole 6, and kept it at 2 down, and I knew if we kept them there, we didn’t need to really force anything.”

In the morning semifinals, Wong, who will compete in U.S. Open sectional qualifying on June 5 in Dallas, and Capan used an eagle-2 on No. 13 to pull away from Floridians Marc Dull, of Winter Haven, and Chip Brooke, of Bartow, 4 and 2.

The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are for amateurs. It consisted of 36 holes of stroke play – one round each on Courses No. 2 and 8 – followed by five rounds of match play on Course No. 2.

ADDITIONAL MEDIA RESOURCES

Interview Transcripts:

2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Champions – Frankie Capan, 17, of North Oaks, Minn., and Shuai Ming (Ben) Wong, 17, of Hong Kong China

http://asaptext.com/asap_media/media/20/383/transcripts/18466.pdf
http://asaptext.com/asap_media/media/20/383/transcripts/18466.html

http://asaptext.com/asap_media/media/20/383/transcripts/18459.pdf
http://asaptext.com/asap_media/media/20/383/transcripts/18459.html

2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Runners-up – Clark Collier, 27, of Dallas, Texas, and Kyle Hudelson, 29, of Oklahoma City, Okla.

http://asaptext.com/asap_media/media/20/383/transcripts/18455.pdf
http://asaptext.com/asap_media/media/20/383/transcripts/18455.html

Photo Lightbox: U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Images

Results:

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Results from Wednesday morning’s semifinal round of match play in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, being conducted on the 7,161-yard, par-70 Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club:

Clark Collier, Dallas, Texas & Kyle Hudelson, Oklahoma City, Okla. def. Patrick Christovich, New Orleans, La. & Garrett Rank, Canada, 19 holes

Frankie Capan, North Oaks, Minn. & Shuai Ming (Ben) Wong, Hong Kong, China def. Chip Brooke, Bartow, Fla. & Marc Dull, Winter Haven, Fla., 4 and 2

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Results from Wednesday afternoon’s final round of match play in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, being conducted on the 7,161-yard, par-70 Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club:

Frankie Capan, North Oaks, Minn. & Shuai Ming (Ben) Wong, Hong Kong, China def. Clark Collier, Dallas, Texas & Kyle Hudelson, Oklahoma City, Okla., 2 and 1

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Alternates Collier, Hudelson now have chance to win Four-Ball

Clark Collier high-fives his teammate Kyle Hudelson on their way to advancing to the 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball semifinals at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in Pinehurst, N.C. (Copyright: USGA/Chris Keane)

Scores

May 27-31, 2017, Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course Nos. 2 and 8)
Village of Pinehurst, N.C. | www.usga.org/fourball | #USFourBall

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. (May 30, 2017) – Clark Collier and Kyle Hudelson were among the last sides into the field for the 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, and now they might be the last team standing.

The two Oklahoma City natives – Collier, 27, who now lives in Dallas, and Hudelson, 29, who resides in Scottsdale, Ariz. – got into the field a week ago as alternates, and they’ve made the most of their opportunity. Collier and Hudelson won a pair of nail-biting matches Tuesday on the par-70, 7,161-yard Course No. 2, including a 1-up quarterfinal decision over 2015 champions Nathan Smith and Todd White.

They join Patrick Christovich, 38, of New Orleans, La., and 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Garrett Rank, 29, of Canada; 17-year-olds Shuai Ming (Ben) Wong, of Hong Kong China, and Frankie Capan, of North Oaks, Minn.; and Floridians Chip Brooke, 41, of Bartow, and 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Marc Dull, 31, of Winter Haven, in Wednesday morning’s semifinals, which begin at 7 a.m. Click here for additional facts and figures about each of the semifinalists.

The two semifinal winners will square off in the 18-hole championship match at approximately 1 p.m. All four semifinalists are exempt into the 2018 championship at Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla., providing the side remains intact.

Kyle Hudelson hits his second shot at the first hole during the second round of match play at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

That’s good news to Collier and Hudelson, who were headed to other locales over Memorial Day weekend until the USGA contacted them on May 24. The alternates were now in after Cole Hammer and Philip Barbaree, an exempt side, withdrew because the latter was competing in the NCAA Championship for Louisiana State University. Collier and Hudelson earned first-alternate status after winning a playoff in their Four-Ball qualifier in Glenn Ellyn, Ill., last fall.

“I guess we get another tee time tomorrow,” said Collier, beaming after what has transpired over the past six days. The two are playing in their first-ever USGA championship.

Earlier on Wednesday, Collier and Hudelson rallied for a 19-hole victory in the Round of 16 over Thomas McDonagh and Brendan Borst after being 1 down going into the 18th hole. A clutch par after McDonagh and Borst failed to convert sent the match to the first extra hole, where par was again good enough to win the match.

Against White and Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, Collier and Hudelson again faced a tall task. Thriving in their underdog role, they held off the two experienced USGA competitors, thanks to some clutch shot-making.

Two up with four to play, Collier missed a 3-foot par putt on the par-3 15th to see the side’s lead trimmed in half. They settled down over the final three holes, with Collier hitting a clutch approach on the green from the native area on No. 18 to free up Hudelson’s second shot from the fairway. He, too, found the putting surface, and when Smith, who was in the left-greenside bunker, and White, who was just off the front of the green, failed to birdie, Hudelson nestled his birdie attempt to within concession range.

“Those guys are legends,” said Collier of Smith and White, who were teammates on the victorious 2013 USA Walker Cup Team. “What a class act. They’re truly an example for the game.”

Added Hudelson: “Nathan Smith, it’s just an honor to play with him. I mean how many [USGA] matches has he played?

Clark Collier surveys his difficult lie in the native rough left of the 18th fairway on Pinehurst No. 2. Collier managed to hit his approach onto the green to help seal his side’s victory. (Pinehurst Resort/Alex Podlogar)

“[Before the week started], we said we had already won and had nothing to lose. I mean everything was against us. Beating a great team and us being a dark horse, it was great.”

Next up for these “underdogs” is a semifinal match against 2016 semifinalists Christovich and Rank, a three-time Canadian Mid-Amateur champion who just finished his first full season as a National Hockey League referee.

They, too, were stretched to the final hole against 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Todd Mitchell and 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey, who turned 39 Tuesday. His birthday celebration went well for half a day, but Christovich and Rank rallied for a 2-up win.

With the match all square on the par-3 15th hole, Christovich holed a 20-footer for birdie with his partner 12 feet from the hole and Mitchell 4 feet inside of him. Christovich put the pressure on Mitchell by draining his birdie putt, and Mitchell could not answer.

“I think that was huge,” said Rank. “It put a lot of pressure on them.”

On Monday, Rank and Christovich survived an 8-for-6 playoff for the final spots in the match-play draw, before eliminating North Carolina teenagers Akshay Bhatia and Grayson Wotnosky. On Tuesday morning, they outlasted Matt Naumec and Billy Walthouse, 2 and 1, before beating Mitchell and Harvey, semifinalists in the 2015 championship who were coming off a 3-and-2 victory over Sean Rowen and 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Kenny Cook in the Round of 16.

“We were very controlled all day,” said Christovich. “Those were probably four of the 10 best mid-amateur players in the world playing in the same group. It’s fun to play against your friends, and, obviously, you want to win when the competition is high. We played quite well today.”

Wong and Capan, the only juniors remaining, needed some 18th-hole heroics to oust the Charlotte, N.C., tandem of David Kocher and William Rainey. Wong, who has committed to attend Southern Methodist University in 2018, drained a 10-foot birdie putt to seal the 1-up victory.

“I was actually really confident over the putt,” said Wong, who moved to The Woodlands, Texas, three years ago and has advanced to U.S. Open sectional qualifying on June 5 in Dallas. “I don’t want to brag, but I wasn’t nervous at all. I could feel the adrenaline in my hands, but it was not really pressure. Just excitement for the ball to get in the hole.”

Wong and Capan thought they might be facing the latter’s future University of Alabama teammates, No. 2 seeds Davis Shore and Wilson Furr, but they were eliminated by Kocher and Rainey, 6 and 5. Capan has committed to Alabama for the 2018-19 season, while Shore and Furr are headed there this fall.

Marc Dull hits his drive from the 13th tee during the quarterfinal round of match play at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

Dull, a full-time caddie at Streamsong Resort, and Brooke, who helped start the resort’s caddie program before getting into the lumber industry, pulled out a dramatic 19-hole victory over Connor Campbell and Blake Meek in the Round of 16 before cruising to a 4-and-3 quarterfinal win over Justin Kaplan and Scott Loving.

Campbell and Meek birdied Nos. 16 and 18, the latter from 50 feet, to force extra holes before Dull stuffed a wedge approach at the par-4 first hole – No. 19 in the match – to set up a winning birdie.

The duo pulled away from Kaplan and Loving with three birdies in a four-hole stretch on Nos. 8, 10 and 11 to forge a 4-up lead. The two played the equivalent of 5-under-par round, with the usual match-play concessions.

“We played great this morning,” said Dull. “We didn’t make a bogey. [But] they played good, too. I mean we fought hard today.

“This afternoon was definitely our best collective round where we both played well.”

The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are for amateurs. The championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play – one round each on Course No. 2 and Course No. 8 – followed by five rounds of match play over a three-day period.

Results

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Results from Tuesday morning’s second round of match play in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, being conducted on the 7,161-yard, par-70 Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club:

Upper Bracket
Clark Collier, Dallas, Texas & Kyle Hudelson, Oklahoma City, Okla. def. Brendan Borst, Philadelphia, Pa. & Thomas McDonagh, Norwalk, Conn., 19 holes

Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. & Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C. def. Patrick Flavin, Highwood, Ill. & Brian Ohr, Wheeling, Ill., 3 and 1

Patrick Christovich, New Orleans, La. & Garrett Rank, Canada def. Matt Naumec, Wilbraham, Mass. & Billy Walthouse, Longmeadow, Mass., 2 and 1

Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. & Todd Mitchell, Bloomington, Ill. def. Kenny Cook, Noblesville, Ind. & Sean Rowen, Greenwood, Ind., 3 and 2

Lower Bracket
David Kocher, Charlotte, N.C. & William Rainey, Charlotte, N.C. def. Wilson Furr, Jackson, Miss. & Davis Shore, Knoxville, Tenn., 6 and 5

Frankie Capan, North Oaks, Minn. & Shuai Ming (Ben) Wong, Hong Kong, China def. Jordan Andrus, Pinckney, Mich. & Chad Johnson, Monroe, Mich., 5 and 3

Chip Brooke, Bartow, Fla. & Marc Dull, Winter Haven, Fla. def. Connor Campbell, Orange, Calif. & Blake Meek, Pasadena, Calif., 19 holes

Justin Kaplan, Houston, Texas & Scott Loving, Conroe, Texas def. Brandon Cigna, Arlington, Va. & Ben Warnquist, Olney, Md., 6 and 5

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Results from Tuesday afternoon’s quarterfinal round of match play in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, being conducted on the 7,161-yard, par-70 Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club:

Upper Bracket
Clark Collier, Dallas, Texas & Kyle Hudelson, Oklahoma City, Okla. def. Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. & Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C., 1 up

Patrick Christovich, New Orleans, La. & Garrett Rank, Canada def. Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. & Todd Mitchell, Bloomington, Ill., 2 up

Lower Bracket
Frankie Capan, North Oaks, Minn. & Shuai Ming (Ben) Wong, Hong Kong, China def. David Kocher, Charlotte, N.C. & William Rainey, Charlotte, N.C., 1 up

Chip Brooke, Bartow, Fla. & Marc Dull, Winter Haven, Fla. def. Justin Kaplan, Houston, Texas & Scott Loving, Conroe, Texas, 4 and 3

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Tee times for Wednesday morning’s semifinal round of match play in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, played at the 7,161-yard, par-70 Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club. The winning sides will advance to the final 18-hole championship match at 1 p.m.

All Times EDT

7 a.m. – Clark Collier, Dallas, Texas & Kyle Hudelson, Oklahoma City, Okla. vs. Patrick Christovich, New Orleans, La. & Garrett Rank, Canada

7:20 a.m. – Frankie Capan, North Oaks, Minn. & Shuai Ming (Ben) Wong, Hong Kong, China vs. Chip Brooke, Bartow, Fla. & Marc Dull, Winter Haven, Fla.

 

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Kocher’s and Rainey’s adventurous 10th hole is a microcosm of the beauty – and agony – of the Four-Ball

How a pulled drive, a topped 3-wood, a missed pitch and picking up won the 10th hole for David Kocher and William Rainey

Live Scores

By ALEX PODLOGAR

William Rainey was incredulous.

Surveying his partner David Kocher’s lie under the trees well left of the fairway on the par-5 10th hole, Rainey heard words come out of Kocher’s mouth he just couldn’t believe.

“I’m gonna take driver under the tree,” Kocher said flatly.

“Dude,” Rainey responded, “no.”

Kocher acquiesced. He took 3 wood.

“And I topped it.”

Incredibly, the 10th hole would only get more ridiculous from there.

Kocher’s decision sounds like a play from a side that would be 3-down after the front 9 on Pinehurst No. 2, not 3-up. But that’s where Rainey and Kocher were as they stood under the trees during the Round of 16 matches at the 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. With Rainey pouring in birdies, they were pounding the No. 2 seed team of Wilson Furr and Davis Shore, two elite junior golfers who will be roommates when they play at Alabama next season. Furr and Shore were 11 under in medal play on No. 2 and Pinehurst No. 8 earlier in the championship.

“After I topped it, Will turned to me and said, ‘Just pick up. This is too much for me to watch.’” -David Kocher

Even with Kocher’s troubles, Furr and Shore were only in mildly better shape to take advantage of Kocher’s adventures. Rainey was in the middle of the fairway after his tee shot and Furr was wide right amidst a row of trees.

“I can either be aggressive or chip out safely,” Furr told Shore across the fairway. “I’d be 190 or so from the green if I chip out.”

Shore was also in the native rough, but felt he could get a 3 wood on the ball. But Furr’s shot could determine Shore’s decision.

“Can you hit the green from 190?” Short asked.

“Oh yeah,” deadpanned Furr, who, it should be noted, had crushed a drive 331 yards on the par-4 8th earlier.

Shore struggled with his shot, but Furr made a nice pitch from the trees. And sure enough, he arched a high approach that held the front of the 10th green, giving himself a decent look at an uphill birdie putt.

Meanwhile, the Kocher/Rainey misadventures continued.

Rainey pushed his second shot from the fairway just into the native area and very near a wire grass bush. Kocher, though, still well back of the green and tucked into the sandscape, picked up his ball.

Why?

“I mean, I was out of the hole from the start,” Kocher said, “and after I topped it, Will turned to me and said, ‘Just pick up. This is too much for me to watch.’”

Rainey faced a difficult pitch, though, to the green, and with Furr safely on the putting surface, the pressure was on. Rainey hit a nice shot, but the ball continued to trickle until it rolled off the back of the green.”

Advantage, again, to Furr and Shore.

“I was like, ‘Uh-oh,’” Kocher said.

But this is Will Rainey. That must be stated again. And Will Rainey has an uncanny ability, when he’s not starring for the College of Charleston, to pull off ridiculous trick shots.

“I told him walking up to the green that he had a lot of green to work with,” Kocher said, though the message was perhaps more hopeful than accurate.

Shore was also basically out of the hole, leaving it to Rainey and Furr. And while Rainey did have a lot of green to work with, it was all running away from him and on a very tight lie. But, whatever.

Remember, this is Will Rainey.

“I wouldn’t say anything – anything – is child’s play around here,” Rainey said, “but, honestly, it was a pretty basic chip.”

He made it.

“I mean, it’s so fast. So fast,” Kocher said. “But as soon as it landed softly on the green, I thought, ‘That’s got a chance.’”

And so, from a dead-pulled drive to a topped 3-wood to picking up to a missed a pitch shot over the green to winning the hole to go 4-up on their way to an improbable 6&5 victory over what Kocher called “probably the most talented team out here,” the 10th hole was the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball in a nutshell.

“That just shows how ridiculous match play is, all in one hole,” Rainey said. “They had the advantage, then we had the advantage, then they had the advantage and then we chip in and win the hole.

“Welcome to match play.”

Welcome to the Four-Ball.

 

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Borst and McDonagh Upset Medalists in Round of 32 at 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship

Players walking down the fourth fairway during the first round of match play at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Monday, May 29, 2017. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

Scores 

May 27-31, 2017, Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course Nos. 2 and 8)
Village of Pinehurst, N.C. | www.usga.org/fourball | #USFourBall

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. (May 29, 2017) – Brendan Borst and Thomas McDonagh eliminated medalists Clark Engle and Will Grimmer in what turned out to be a Big Ten showdown during Monday’s first round of match play in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.

Earlier on Monday, Borst and McDonagh earned the 32nd and final berth in the match-play draw via an 8-for-6 playoff that lasted three holes. A few hours later on the iconic par-70, 7,161-yard Course No. 2, the two former Penn State golfers registered the biggest upset in the Round of 32.

Borst, 27, of Philadelphia, Pa., and McDonagh, 28, of Norwalk, Conn., never trailed in their 3-and-2 victory against Ohio State University teammates Engle, 22, of Springfield, Ohio, and Grimmer, 20, of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Buckeyes, who never registered a bogey in two rounds of stroke play, opened the door early by losing the second hole to a birdie. It would portend a tough day for the duo who shot 12-under 139 over the weekend to garner the No. 1 seeding.

“There were a couple opportunities they had to jump back in on us, and we kind of hung tough,” said McDonagh who birdied the 11th hole to give their side a 3-up lead. McDonagh also converted a clutch par putt on No. 13 to keep the momentum going after Grimmer birdied No. 13 to trim the deficit to two holes.

“I think the key shot in the match might have been the par putt I made on 13,” added McDonagh. “That kind of kept the momentum in our favor.”

Sean Semenetz stretching on the driving range before starting his day at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Monday, May 29, 2017. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by five rounds of match play, with the Round of 16 and quarterfinals to be played on Tuesday. The semifinals and 18-hole championship match are scheduled for Wednesday.

Wilson Furr and Davis Shore, who lost medalist honors to Engle and Grimmer by one stroke, easily advanced with a 5-and-4 victory over Micah Dean and Alex Rodger. All square after six holes, the two 18-year-olds reeled off four consecutive birdies from No. 7 to take a commanding lead. Shore, of Knoxville, Ala., and No. 41 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, was responsible for three of those birdies.

With potentially two rounds of match play the next two days, the two future University of Alabama teammates feel more than ready to handle the marathon. Furr hails from Jackson, Miss., and like Shore, is accustomed to playing golf in hot and muggy conditions.

“When we’re home practicing, we probably both play 36 holes a day, so I think we’ll be used to it,” said Shore. “We both probably need to hit the driver a little straighter tomorrow. We didn’t hit quite as many fairways as we did in stroke play. But we played well from off the fairways.”

Patrick Christovich, 38, of New Orleans, La., and Garrett Rank, 29, of Canada, called on their experience as mid-amateur players to defeat Wake Forest, N.C., teenagers Shay Bhatia, 15, and Grayson Wotnosky, 16, 1 up. Christovich and Rank, who made it to the semifinals last year at Winged Foot, advanced out of the morning playoff with a birdie on the second playoff hole, the par-3 16th, before holding off the youngest side to make match play.

“They were great players, and they played really well,” said Rank, who just completed his first full season as a National Hockey League referee, working 75 regular-season games. “Patrick and I have a lot of experience, so when you get to this stage of a USGA championship, throw the seeds out the window and just go out and play because anyone can win on any given day. It is just whoever plays the best. Unfortunately for them, we played quite well. We were [just] one better at the end of the day.”

Two other notable mid-amateur sides also advanced on Monday. Inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champions Nathan Smith, 38, of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Todd White, 49, of Spartanburg, S.C., needed some late heroics to beat Andrew Medley and Ken Tanigawa. Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion converted a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to help the side earn a hard-fought 1-up victory, a match that saw Tanigawa hole out a shot from the fairway on No. 3 for an eagle-2.

Scott Harvey putts during Monday’s Round of 32 match in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. (Copyright: USGA/Chris Keane)

Scott Harvey and Todd Mitchell, semifinalists in 2015, had an easier time, eliminating Daniel and Matthew Wetterich, 5 and 4.

“I’m just happy to be playing tomorrow” said White, a high school history teacher who teamed with Smith on the victorious 2013 USA Walker Cup Team.

Mitchell, the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up who played briefly in the New York Yankees’ farm system, contributed four birdies to his team’s win. Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team, got the team going quickly by holing a 12-foot birdie putt on the first hole. The team built a 3-up lead after five and was never seriously threatened.

“It was way less stressful today,” said Harvey, 38, of Greensboro, N.C. “We were both in more holes and for whatever reason we were swinging better.”

On Monday morning, eight sides who had tied at 1-under-par 140 in stroke play participated in a playoff on Course No. 2 for the final six places in the match-play field. Three of those sides – Borst and McDonagh, Christovich and Rank, and Kenny Cook and Sean Rowen, advanced to the Round of 16.

First played in 2015 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Results

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Results from Monday’s first round of match play in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, being conducted on the 7,161-yard, par-70 Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club:

Upper Bracket
Brendan Borst, Philadelphia, Pa. & Thomas McDonagh, Norwalk, Conn. def. Clark Engle, Springfield, Ohio & Will Grimmer, Cincinnati, Ohio, 3 and 2

Clark Collier, Dallas, Texas & Kyle Hudelson, Oklahoma City, Okla. def. Joshua Irving, Dallas, Texas & Will Osborne, Fort Worth, Texas, 2 and 1

Patrick Flavin, Highwood, Ill. & Brian Ohr, Wheeling, Ill. def. Tyler Carson, Jenks, Okla. & Austin Hannah, Jenks, Okla., 5 and 3

Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. & Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C. def. Andrew Medley, Scottsdale, Ariz. & Ken Tanigawa, Phoenix, Ariz., 1 up

Patrick Christovich, New Orleans, La. & Garrett Rank, Canada def. Akshay Bhatia, Wake Forest, N.C. & Grayson Wotnosky, Wake Forest, N.C., 1 up

Matt Naumec, Wilbraham, Mass. & Billy Walthouse, Longmeadow, Mass. def. Drew Mayhew, Canada & Peter Sauerbrei, Canada, 3 and 2

Kenny Cook, Noblesville, Ind. & Sean Rowen, Greenwood, Ind. def Jordan Nasser, Irvine, Calif. & Taylor Wood, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., 4 and 3

Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. & Todd Mitchell, Bloomington, Ill. def. Daniel Wetterich, Cincinnati, Ohio & Matthew Wetterich, Cincinnati, Ohio, 5 and 4

Lower Bracket
Wilson Furr, Jackson, Miss. & Davis Shore, Knoxville, Tenn. def. Micah Dean, Cincinnati, Ohio & Alex Rodger, Cincinnati, Ohio, 5 and 4

David Kocher, Charlotte, N.C. & William Rainey, Charlotte, N.C. def. Walker Lee, Houston, Texas & Andrew Minton, Houston, Texas, 4 and 3

Frankie Capan, North Oaks, Minn. & Shuai Ming “Ben” Wong, Hong Kong, China def. Tyler Cooke, Warwick, R.I. & Bobby Leopold, Coventry, R.I., 4 and 3

Jordan Andrus, Pinckney, Mich. & Chad Johnson, Monroe, Mich. def. Mario Carmona, Houston, Texas & Mitchell Meissner, San Antonio, Texas, 20 holes

Chip Brooke, Bartow, Fla. & Marc Dull, Winter Haven, Fla. def. Sean Seese, Rydal, Pa. & Benjamin Smith, Philadelphia, Pa., 4 and 3

Connor Campbell, Orange, Calif. & Blake Meek, Pasadena, Calif. def. Ben Corfee, El Macero, Calif. & Dan Corfee, El Macero, Calif., 3 and 2

Justin Kaplan, Houston, Texas & Scott Loving, Conroe, Texas def. Derek Busby, Ruston, La. & Bryan Vahlberg, Norman, Okla., 19 holes

Brandon Cigna, Arlington, Va. & Ben Warnquist, Olney, Md. def. Spencer Dunaway, Mililani, Hawaii & Peter Kuest, Fresno, Calif., 1 up

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Tee times for Tuesday’s second round of match play at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, played at the 7,161-yard, par-70 Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.

All Times EDT

Upper Bracket
7 a.m. – Brendan Borst, Philadelphia, Pa. & Thomas McDonagh, Norwalk, Conn. vs. Clark Collier, Dallas, Texas & Kyle Hudelson, Oklahoma City, Okla.

7:12 a.m. – Patrick Flavin, Highwood, Ill. & Brian Ohr, Wheeling, Ill. vs. Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. & Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C.

7:24 a.m. – Patrick Christovich, New Orleans, La. & Garrett Rank, Canada vs. Matt Naumec, Wilbraham, Mass. & Billy Walthouse, Longmeadow, Mass.

7:36 a.m. – Kenny Cook, Noblesville, Ind. & Sean Rowen, Greenwood, Ind. vs. Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. & Todd Mitchell, Bloomington, Ill.

Lower Bracket
7:48 a.m. – Wilson Furr, Jackson, Miss. & Davis Shore, Knoxville, Tenn. vs. David Kocher, Charlotte, N.C. & William Rainey, Charlotte, N.C.

8 a.m. – Frankie Capan, North Oaks, Minn. & Shuai Ming “Ben” Wong, Hong Kong, China vs. Jordan Andrus, Pinckney, Mich. & Chad Johnson, Monroe, Mich.

8:12 a.m. – Chip Brooke, Bartow, Fla. & Marc Dull, Winter Haven, Fla. vs. Connor Campbell, Orange, Calif. & Blake Meek, Pasadena, Calif.

8:24 a.m. – Justin Kaplan, Houston, Texas & Scott Loving, Conroe, Texas vs. Brandon Cigna, Arlington, Va. & Ben Warnquist, Olney, Md.

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