U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Terp Tandem Taking it in at Winged Foot
May 24, 2016 | MAMARONECK, N.Y.
By Joey Flyntz, USGA
The University of Maryland men’s golf team was on a roll this year, capturing its best conference finish in 30 years and savoring its first team win since 2010. David Kocher and Connor Tendall are building on that success with their play in the 2nd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club.
Kocher, 20, of Charlotte, N.C., and Tendall, 23, of North Potomac, Md., had only competed in one USGA championship combined before this week – Kocher missed match play in last year’s U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club – but the lack of experience hasn’t hurt them, as the duo shot 5-under-par 135 in stroke play and won their first two matches to advance to Tuesday afternoon’s quarterfinals.
After Kocher earned second-team all-Big Ten honors last year as a freshman, Kocher was a first-team all-conference selection this year. Maryland finished third in the Big Ten this year, winning the Firestone Invitational in the fall at Akron University, with Kocher winning the individual medal at the event.
While Kocher has provided a shot in the arm for the Maryland program, the real question is how did the Terps land such a strong player from Charlotte? Turns out, the school’s transition from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten in 2014 played a large role.
“My parents both went to Penn State, so I was a huge Big Ten fan growing up,” said Kocher, an American studies major. “I always liked Big Ten football, so when I was looking at schools, I wanted a big school that was really into sports, so I looked at Maryland. And Maryland is the most southern school in the Big Ten – it’s warmer than all the other schools – and I really liked it and fell in love with it.”
Tendall has more traditional ties to Maryland, growing up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and attending Wootton High School in Rockville, a short drive from Maryland’s College Park campus. However, Tendall initially played his college golf at Xavier University in Cincinnati before transferring home for his final two years of college.
Maryland isn’t altogether lacking in golf history – Fred Funk, who also served as head coach for the Terps, won eight times on the PGA Tour, including the 2005 Players Championship, and two-time U.S. Amateur champion and former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman are alums. More recently, Buddy Marucci won the 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, though he is probably better known for his epic battle with Tiger Woods in the championship match of the 1995 U.S. Amateur, where he lost on the 36th hole.
Ben Warnquist, 23, of Olney, Md., is another Maryland alum competing in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Warnquist also advanced to the quarterfinals, playing with Brandon Cigna.
Next year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball will be contested on the famed Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club; Kocher won the 2014 North & South Junior Amateur on Pinehurst No. 8. However, the Maryland duo will not attempt to play together again, as Tendall, whose home course is three-time U.S. Open host site Congressional Country Club, plans on turning pro at the end of the week to compete in next week’s Cape Cod Open.
“This is kind of our last hurrah together, so we're trying to go out on a high note,” said Tendall.
To make it this far with so little USGA championship experience, it’s hard to imagine them going out anything but a high note.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.