U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Five Things to Watch: Round of 16 and Quarterfinals
May 24, 2016 | MAMARONECK, N.Y.
By Joey Flyntz, USGA
A championship that began with 128 teams will be cut to the final four Tuesday at Winged Foot Golf Club. It is the first day of double rounds, as the Round of 16 began at 7 a.m. EDT and the winners will begin the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Here are five things to watch as we get one day closer to crowning a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champion:
David vs. Goliath
One of the more intriguing Round-of-16 matches pits defending champions Nathan Smith and Todd White against Drew Allenspach and Matthew Van Zandt.
Smith, 37, of Pittsburgh, Pa., and White, 48, of Spartanburg, S.C., posted the most lopsided victory of the day Monday, a 6-and-5 decision against Matthew Finger and Michael Korcuba.
Allenspach, 29, of Louisville, Ky., and Van Zandt, 30, of Houston, Texas, admittedly entered the championship with little fanfare after missing match play last year at The Olympic Club. They got off to a great start at Winged Foot, however, shooting 12-under 128 in stroke play to earn the No. 3 seed in the match-play bracket.
“I’m very excited to play against them,” said Allenspach on Monday. “I have a ton of respect for them. They are two of the best mid-amateurs in the game and that is something we aspire to be. I have heard nothing but great things about them and it should be a great time.”
Rain, Rain Go Away
Weather will dominate the story in Round of 16. Rain was falling as the matches started, but there is reason for optimism. The forecast predicts the wet stuff will slowly taper off throughout the day.
With only light winds, the wet conditions may actually help the competitors cope with the East Course’s challenging greens. With the constant rain, players will have more opportunities to be aggressive with their approach shots and less tentative on a slower putting surface. Accuracy off the tee, however, will be vital, since the rain will make it especially challenging to play out of the rough.
Teams that advance to the quarterfinals should face drier and warmer conditions, with the chance of rain falling to 40 percent at noon with temperatures in the high 60s.
Go Team, Go
Two Round-of-16 matches feature two sides in which partners will be playing for school pride.
The Brandon Matthews/Patrick Ross-Clark Engle/Will Grimmer matchup pits Temple against Ohio State. Matthews, 21, of Dupont, Pa., and Ross, 24, of Dunmore, Pa., earned stroke-play medalist honors with a 14-under 126, then easily advanced on Monday with a 4-and-3 triumph over Sachin Kumar and Alberto Martinez. Matthews earned All-America honors at Temple.
Engle, 21, of Springfield, Ohio, and Grimmer, 19, of Cincinnati, Ohio, are current teammates for the Buckeyes. Engle posted three top-10 finishes last season to earn all-Big Ten honors. Grimmer is a veteran of USGA championships who qualified for the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 and was the youngest player in the field.
The 7:36 a.m. match between Andrew Whalen and Dylan Wu, and David Kocher and Connor Tendall is an all-Big Ten bout. Whalen, 22, of Ephrata, Wash., and Wu, 19, of Medford, Ore., are teammates at Northwestern University who paced the field in the first round of stroke play with an 8-under 62 on the East Course.
Kocher, 20, of Charlotte, N.C., and Tendall, 23, of North Potomac, Md., were teammates at the University of Maryland. Kocher is a sophomore while Tendall graduated in 2014. Kocher and Tendall played the longest match in the Round of 32, defeating Brandon Laird and Josh Lampley in 21 holes.
Strength and Stamina
The four sides that advance to the semifinals will have to display a combination of physical stamina and mental fortitude. Tuesday is the first double-round day, and combined with the wet conditions, it will be a grind to win two matches.
That could be an advantage for the sides of Smith and White, Patrick Christovich/Garrett Rank, and Scott Harvey/Todd Mitchell, all of whom boast a lot of experience playing two rounds a day in USGA championships.
The East Course at Winged Foot features three drivable par 4s. Nos. 10, 11 and 15 will all be moved up at various points to create an intriguing risk-reward opportunity. Yesterday, No. 10 was moved up and yielded an eagle to local favorite Cameron Young, who hit a 3-wood to 2 feet from 303 yards.
On Tuesday, No. 11 was moved up to 298 yards for the Round of 16.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.