U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Round 2 of Stroke Play: Five Storylines
May 28, 2017 | Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
By David Shefter, USGA
The second and final round of stroke play in the 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship takes place Sunday at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club with the 128 sides vying for those coveted 32 match-play spots. Some, like first-round leaders Davis Shore and Wilson Furr, seem to be in solid position. Others, however, have work to do on either Course No. 2 or Course No. 8.
Course No. 2, the iconic Donald Ross original that was renovated by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw prior to the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, played nearly three strokes higher in Saturday’s first round. So for those sides scheduled to play Course No. 2 needing to make up ground, the challenge could be a bit more difficult. Then again, cut day always produces drama.
Here are five storylines to watch on Day 2 of the competition:
Chase for Medalist
Teenagers Wilson Furr, of Jackson, Miss., and Davis Shore, of Knoxville, Tenn., were not shy about wanting to be the top seeds for match play. The duo carded an 8-under 63 on Course No. 8 to take a one-stroke lead after Day 1.
“That’s definitely a goal,” said Furr, who will be joining Shore at the University of Alabama this fall. “We were talking about it and thought it would be a definite advantage in match play to get in as No. 1 seeds, so we’re going to do everything we can.”
Some players are superstitious about being medalist, saying it can put an unfair bullseye on their back. And there’s always the added pressure of trying to validate the solid stroke-play performance.
Furr and Shore, however, are veteran junior players who have performed in high-intensity competitions such as the Junior Ryder Cup and Wyndham Cup as well as numerous USGA competitions. Shore is also the highest ranked player in the field at No. 41 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™. Furr is No. 89.
They will, however, have company for the top spot.
Kenny Cook, the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up, and his partner Sean Rowen, posted a 7-under 64 on Course No. 8. So they too head to the more-challenging Course No. 2 on Sunday.
A pair of teams going to play Course No. 8 after shooting 5-under 65s on Course No. 2 also shouldn’t be counted out. Floridians Chip Brooke and 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Marc Dull, and Clark Collier, of Dallas, and his partner Kyle Hudelson, of Oklahoma City, could have a say on who grabs the top seed for match play. Collier and Hudelson were late additions when last year’s champions, Andrew Buchanan and Benjamin Baxter withdrew last week.
At the other end of the spectrum is the match-play cutline, which often draws more interest than who earns medalist honors. Forty sides are at 1 under or better. At most USGA championships, conventional math says to take where the cut falls after Round 1 – in this case 1 under – and double it plus add one. For those wanting to prognosticate, that would leave the cut around 1 under or even.
One notable side sitting at 1 under is the duo of Doug Hanzel, 60, of Savannah, Ga., and Bob Royak, 55, of Atlanta. Hanzel won the 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur and twice has been the low amateur in the U.S. Senior Open. Royak has competed in a number of USGA championships, including a Round-of-16 showing in last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur. They will play Course No. 2 on Sunday.
Meanwhile, 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champions Nathan Smith, of Pittsburgh, and Todd White, of Spartanburg, S.C., also shot 1 under on Saturday, but that came on Course No. 2. Never count out this duo. Smith owns a record four U.S. Mid-Amateur titles and White is no stranger to USGA events, having reached the semifinals of the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Work to Do
Saturday’s first round was not an ideal one for reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad and partner Sam Smith. The two posted a 3-over 74 on Course No. 8, and likely will need a round in the 60s on Course No. 2 to advance. It’s been whirlwind spring for Hagestad, who became the first invited U.S. Mid-Amateur champ to make the cut in the Masters and earn low-amateur honors. The 26-year-old also just spent nearly two weeks in Ireland competing in the Irish Open Amateur and Carey Cup, a match between the Metropolitan Golf Association and the Golf Union of Ireland.
Don Enga and Jay Sessa, the oldest combined team in the field, also will need an extraordinary low round on Course No. 2 after shooting a 75 on Saturday.
All three father-son teams are also on the outside looking in. That group includes Ben and Dan Corfee, Philip and James Pleat, and Michael and Mike Riley.
And the duo of Daniel Belden and Don Padgett III will need a good round on Course No. 8 after shooting 2-over 72 on Course No. 2. Padgett is the son of former Pinehurst president Don Padget Jr., and his grandfather, also named Don, was the resort’s former director of golf.
Golf has a way of bringing people together from all sorts of backgrounds and, in this case, nations. Two years ago, Fred Biondi and Daisuke Nakano arrived at Morningside Academy in Port St. Lucie, Fla., from Brazil and Japan, respectively. The two became roommates through their mutual love of golf, and this year they entered Four-Ball qualifying.
“We came here for better opportunities for golf, and to play in college,” said Nakano, a native of Tokyo who previously spent two years in New Zealand.
Biondi picked up the game at age 3 in soccer-crazied Brazil because his grandfather lived near a course.
But the two had never played in a team event before qualifying for the championship in Vero Beach, Fla., last August, and after a 5-under 66 on Course No. 8 on Saturday, they are poised to advance to match play.
“[Our strategy] won’t change,” said Biondi of the duo’s game plan. “Just hit it in play and get some birdie looks.”
By The Numbers
As stated, Course No. 2 (77.217) played nearly three strokes higher than No. 8 (74.615), but here are some other facts and figures. The par-4 finishing hole on No. 2 ranked the toughest at 4.512, while the easiest hole was the par-3 eighth (2.952). It was the only hole to play under par.
On No. 8, the most difficult hole was the 229-yard, par-3 eighth hole (3.374), while the easiest was the par-5 second at 4.859. Two other holes also played under par in Round 1: the 147-yard, par-3 fifth (2.903) that was aced by Taylor Fontaine, and the 369-yard, par-4 12th (3.933).
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.