U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Teamwork a Hot Topic at Four-Ball Media Day April 14, 2015 | San Francisco By Brian DePasquale, USGA

The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Trophy will be awarded for the first time following the inaugural championship, which begins May 2. (USGA/Jed Jacobsohn)

Former NFL quarterback Steve Bono, who played for the San Francisco 49ers’ 1989 Super Bowl-winning team, knows about teamwork. He learned and lived it as a college standout at UCLA and during 15 professional seasons with seven different organizations after being drafted in 1985.

Bono first learned how teamwork can transcend religion, race and other characteristics from the late Homer Smith, his offensive coordinator at UCLA. Smith brought to his young Bruins team a tale about how a football team could have a Jewish quarterback take a snap from a Catholic center and then throw to a Protestant receiver. At the time, the coach was teaching a life lesson.

“That was such a great story he told us, but it didn’t sink in like it does now,” said Bono, who spoke at 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Media Day March 30 at The Olympic Club. “It was one common goal. The whole program had one goal and every decision that you made was based on how is this going to give this team a better chance to win.”

Bono, who has worked in business development and financial services since his playing days, also noted that this approach emphasized trust and respect, two qualities that helped the 49ers become Super Bowl XXIV champions.

“You didn’t have to agree with the person next to you or like the person next to you,” said Bono, a member at the Stanford University Golf Course in nearby Palo Alto, Calif. “But you had to respect their opinion and respect the way they went about their business.”

Drew Olson, 32, of Piedmont, Calif., and David Reneker, 46, of Santa Monica, Calif., have found a common bond in their passion for golf and as UCLA graduates, and have already worked as a unit in sectional qualifying to advance to this inaugural championship.

Olson, who is third on UCLA’s career passing yards list, and Reneker, a former walk-on for the Bruins’ golf team, shot 6-under 65 in the qualifier at Del Paso Country Club, in Sacramento, Calif., and then survived a four-hole playoff that finished after sunset. Olson made an 18-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole before Reneker followed with a birdie to secure the final qualifying position.

Reneker and Olson’s good teamwork placed them among a group of 128 teams (or sides) for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on May 2-6 at The Olympic Club.

“[I] fell in love with the spirit of amateur golf and the competitiveness,” said Olson about his post-football life following a short stint as an undrafted free agent quarterback. “I come from a world of team sports and football, and so to be able to compete in this event and have a partner and a good friend like Dave is something that I am going to cherish.”

 

Photos: U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Media Day

Amateur Four-Ball Notes

The Olympic Club has hosted nine USGA championships, including the 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998 and 2012 U.S. Opens … The club was also the site of the 1958, 1981 and 2007 U.S. Amateurs and 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur … U.S. Amateur Four-Ball is open to sides (or teams) of amateurs with a Handicap Index® not exceeding 5.4 … Partners comprising sides do not have age restrictions and are not required to be from the same club, state or country … The USGA accepted 2,234 side (or team) entries … Sectional qualifying, conducted over 18 holes, began Aug. 13, 2014 and concluded on March 31, 2015 … Qualifying was held at 51 sites in 35 states, including five in California and three in Florida, Massachusetts and New York … The starting field of 128 sides (256 players) will play two rounds of stroke-play qualifying on May 2-3 … The low 32 sides advance to match play and the 18-hole championship final is scheduled for Wednesday, May 6 … Fox Sports 1 will air live the last two days of match play … There are seven USGA champions currently in this year’s field, including Ken Bakst (1997 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Austin Easton III (2004 Mid-Amateur), Scott Harvey (2014 Mid-Amateur), Tim Jackson (1994, 2001 Mid-Amateur), Kevin Marsh (2005 Mid-Amateur), Michael McCoy (2013 Mid-Amateur) and Nathan Smith (2003, 2009, 2010, 2012 Mid-Amateur) … Four sides were fully exempt from qualifying … Sam Burns/Austin Connelly, Patrick Christovich/Garrett Rank and Bryson DeChambeau/Austin Smotherman received exemptions based on their Top 400 status in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (WAGR) … Nathan Smith and Todd White, who were members of the winning 2013 USA Walker Cup Team, earned a special exemption … Bill McCarthy, director of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, announced the creation of a new tee on The Olympic Club Lake Course’s 18th hole that will make the hole a drivable par 4 at 270 yards on some match-play days … Pat Murphy, the general chairman of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball  who has worked at every USGA event held at The Olympic Club since 1966, said 250 club members are signed up as volunteers to work championship week.

Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at bdepasquale@usga.org.

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