U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Medalists Among Round 1 Winners in U.S. Amateur Four-Ball
May 23, 2016 | MAMARONECK, N.Y.
By Brian DePasquale, USGA
Brandon Matthews and Patrick Ross, the stroke-play medalists who are former Temple University teammates, were among 16 sides that advanced in the first round of match play Monday in the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on the par 70, 6,728-yard East Course at Winged Foot Golf Club.
Matthews, 21, of Dupont, Pa., and Ross, 24, of Dunmore, Pa., made four birdies on the outward nine to take a 3-up lead and never trailed in their 4-and-3 victory over Sachin Kumar, 17, of Trinidad and Tobago, and Alberto Martinez, 16, of Weston, Fla. Matthews and Ross, who failed to qualify for match play in last year’s inaugural championship at The Olympic Club, are building on the momentum gained after a carding a pair of 63s during stroke play.
“It’s tough to qualify for match play in a USGA event if you are not playing your best,” said Matthews, who earned All-America honors at Temple. “We both came into this tournament hitting the ball well and putting it well. We were confident coming in and now we are in the Round of 16.”
Both players kick-started their round as each hit their approach shots to within 3 feet on the par-4 second. Ross would later sink a 7-footer on the par-3 sixth for the team’s third birdie before Matthews deftly negotiated a tree on No. 9 by lifting a flop shot to within 2 feet.
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 championship, scheduled as an 18-hole final, will be played on Wednesday. Fox Sports 1 (FS1) will televise the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball on May 24 and May 25, from 3-5:30 p.m. EDT.
Scott Harvey, 37, of Greensboro, N.C., and Todd Mitchell, 37, of Bloomington, Ill., needed all of their experience as mid-amateurs to defeat a pair of 15-year olds. Harvey and Mitchell won the last two holes to post a 2-up triumph over Sean Maruyama, of Los Angeles, Calif., and Clay Seeber, of Newport Beach, Calif.
“About every time you get into match play, you need to squeak by and grind it out when you are not playing your best,” said Mitchell, who along with Harvey are the No. 2 seeds after recording rounds of 65 and 63 in stroke play. “Now that that one is out of the way, we are going to have to step on the gas the rest of the way.”
Mitchell, who was a minor league shortstop in the New York Yankees’ farm system, handed his team a 2-up lead when he delivered a 9-iron to within tap-in range on the 156-yard, par-3 13th. But Maruyama and Seeber, who advanced to match play through a playoff earlier in the day, won holes 14 and 16 to square the match. Seeber, a high school freshman, made a 45-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th.
Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team, regained the lead for his team by firing a 5-iron to within 20 feet for a two-putt par on the 218-yard, par-3 17th. Harvey and Mitchell won the last hole with a conceded birdie.
“We played a good stretch between holes 7 and 13, but other than that we played absolutely awful,” Harvey said. “Neither one of us had our swings today.”
Patrick Christovich, 37, of New Orleans, La., and Garrett Rank, 28, of Canada, used a run of five consecutive birdies on the inward nine to defeat Wake Forest University teammates Cameron Young, 19, of Scarborough, N.Y., and Paul McBride, 22, of the Republic of Ireland, 2 and 1.
Young, who grew up 20 miles from Winged Foot and whose father is a club professional at a nearby course, eagled the drivable 303-yard, par-4 10th to provide his team a 1-up lead. Rank, the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up, sank a devilish 18-foot putt on No. 13 to square the match, and then set up another birdie on the following hole by punching an 8-iron to within 20 feet.
“Mine trickled into the hole at 2 o’clock – it was behind the hole and then fell in backward,” said Rank about his birdie putt on the par-3 13th. “It was dead-weight speed and overall broke 10 feet.”
Christovich, a realtor who is competing in his 11th USGA championship, struck a 100-yard gap wedge to 3½-feet to garner his team’s fourth consecutive birdie. Rank, who is professional hockey referee, ended the match when he made a 5½-foot par putt on the par-3 17th.
Asked if his team felt like the visitors in the match due to Young’s local ties, Rank said, “There were a few times where we thought we hit good shots and we kind of got the courtesy clap.”
Drew Allenspach, 29, of Louisville, Ky., and Matthew Van Zandt, 30, of Houston, Texas, dispatched Denver natives Tom Hart, 35, and Jonathan Marisco, 34, 5 and 4. The championship bracket’s No. 3 seed reeled off five consecutive birdies from holes 9 through 13 to break open a tight match, then sealed it with a sixth straight birdie to earn a winning half on 14.
Allenspach and Van Zandt will meet defending U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champions Nathan Smith, 37, of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Todd White, 48, of Spartanburg, S.C., in the second round. Smith and White birdied Nos. 3, 4, 5, 8, 11 and 12 en route to a 6-and-5 decision over Matthew Finger, 38, of Woolwich Township, N.J., and Michael Korcuba, 46, of Sicklerville, N.J.
“If you’re gonna play, you may as well play the best,” said Van Zandt, one of 13 players in the field who will compete in U.S. Open sectional qualifying on June 6. “I’m excited to see what their game is like. We came into this as kind of unknowns, so there’s really nowhere for us to go but up from here.”
Northwestern University teammates Andrew Whalen, 22, of Ephrata, Wash., and Dylan Wu, 19, of Medford, Ore., also advanced with a 4-and-3 victory. Whalen and Wu, the No. 5 seed, won the opening four holes with three pars and a birdie to take control against Iowa natives Jon Brown, 48, of Clive, and Jon Olson, 36, of Ankeny.
Frankie Capan, a 16-year-old from North Oaks, Minn., used late dramatics as he and partner Shuai Ming Wong, 16, of the People’s Republic of China, won in 19 holes. Capan made a sweeping, right-to-left 35-footer for birdie on No. 18 in a make-or-break situation to extend the match. Their team won with a par on the first extra hole.
On Monday morning, six sides tied at 3-under-par 137 participated in a playoff on Winged Foot’s West Course for the final two places in the match-play field. Maruyama, the son of PGA Tour player Shigeki Maruyama, moved his team into the bracket by making eagle on the second playoff hole. His 119-yard pitching wedge landed 8 feet past the flagstick and rolled back into the hole.
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 email@example.com.