U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Championship Match Set May 25, 2016 | Mamaroneck, N.Y. By Brian DePasquale, USGA

Andrew Buchanan (front) and Benjamin Baxter rallied from 4 down to prevail in their semifinal match. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Home

Southern Methodist University teammates Ben Baxter and Andrew Buchanan rallied for a 2-and-1 semifinal victory over mid-amateurs Garrett Rank and Patrick Christovich on Wednesday morning in the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on the par 70, 6,728-yard East Course at Winged Foot Golf Club.

Baxter and Buchanan will face Brandon Cigna, 30, of Arlington, Va., and Ben Warnquist, 23, of Olney, Md., in this afternoon’s championship match, scheduled for 18 holes, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. Cigna and Warnquist defeated Otto Black, 22, of Pinckney, Mich., and Colin Joseph, 19, of Loveland, Ohio, 2 up, in their semifinal.

The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play, 18 each on the East and West Courses of Winged Foot Golf Club, followed by five rounds of match play on the East Course. Fox Sports 1 (FS1) will televise the championship, from 3-5:30 p.m. EDT.

Baxter, 20, of Flower Mound, Texas, and Buchanan, 21, of Los Altos, Calif., trailed 4 down on the outward nine but regrouped with birdies on seven of the final eight holes.

Buchanan, who is competing in his first USGA championship, sank a 14-foot putt on No. 9 for his team’s first birdie of the round. Baxter, who has played in two U.S. Amateurs, halved the next hole with a birdie after hitting his tee shot onto the East Course’s practice green. After getting relief from the green’s surface, he lofted a pitch shot to within 4 feet. The SMU sophomore made another short birdie putt on No. 11 to cut his team’s deficit in half.

Buchanan won the par-5 12th to get his team 1 down when he played his greenside bunker shot in close for a conceded birdie. Baxter squared the match on No. 15 with an 8-foot birdie putt.

A first-team all-American Conference player, Buchanan put his team ahead with a 7-foot birdie putt on the No. 16. Baxter solidified the comeback by striking a 6-iron to within 4 inches on the 194-yard, par-3 17th.

Rank, 28, of Canada, and Christovich, 37, of New Orleans, La., had built a 4-up margin after the opening five holes. Rank, a professional hockey referee, sank a downhill 8-futt putt for a birdie on No. 3 and chipped to within 2½ feet on the par-5 fourth to set up another. Christovich made a 9½-footer for birdie on the par-4 fifth.

In the other semifinal, Cigna, a financial advisor, and Warnquist, a sales representative, constructed a 4-up lead after seven holes. Cigna hit a wedge to within 6 feet on No. 5 to set up a birdie and a three-hole cushion. Warnquist, the 2015 Maryland State Amateur champion, followed with a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 7.

Black and Joseph were still 3 down on the inward nine but won holes 15 and 16 with pars to slice the deficit to 1 down. But Cigna, who is playing in his second USGA championship, lifted a 7-iron to within 2 feet on No. 17 before Warnquist was conceded his birdie putt on No. 18 to hold off the rally and secure the win.

The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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