U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Harvey-Mitchell Duo Headlines Semifinalists
May 28, 2019 | Bandon, Ore.
By David Shefter, USGA
Scott Harvey and Todd Mitchell have managed to qualify for match play in every U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship since the competition’s inception in 2015. But after reaching the semifinals in the inaugural event four years ago, the two veteran mid-amateurs – both 40 years of age – have been stymied in their bid to return to the final day.
But they’re getting another crack at the title. Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion from Kernersville, N.C., and Mitchell, the 2008 Mid-Amateur runner-up from Bloomington, Ill., posted a pair of victories Tuesday on Bandon Dunes Golf Resort’s Old Macdonald course, leaving the side two victories away on Wednesday from hoisting the trophy.
“That’s all we can ask for right now,” said Mitchell, “is just to keep playing the way that we are.”
Harvey, a property manager, and Mitchell, a former minor-league baseball player who is in the insurance business, rallied to defeat co-medalists and ex-Santa Clara University teammates Derek Ackerman and Matthew McCarty, 3 and 2, in the quarterfinals.
That came after a 2-and-1 triumph in the Round of 16 over 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball runners-up Brandon Cigna and Ben Warnquist.
Birdies on Nos. 8 and 10 turned the afternoon match around. Harvey rolled in a 12-footer on eight and Mitchell converted a 40-footer from off the green on the 10th hole. They added birdies on 13 – Mitchell converted from 8 feet – and 15 – Harvey got up and down on the par 5 for birdie from the dirt cart path – to close out the match.
Conditions changed drastically from Monday with overcast skies replaced by bright sunshine and stiffer breezes. Winds gusted to as high as 20 mph – and perhaps even higher on the holes near the Pacific Ocean – as the afternoon progressed.
“The wind blew a lot harder out there this afternoon and the greens were drying out big time,” said Harvey, a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team who also qualified for the 2017 U.S. Open. “It played extremely difficult, so we’re very pleased with how we played.”
Harvey is now the last remaining USGA champion in the field after fellow U.S. Mid-Amateur champions Matt Parziale (2017) and Stewart Hagestad (2016) lost in the quarterfinals and Round of 16, respectively.
Parziale, 31, of Brockton, Mass., and partner Herbie Aikens, 37, of Kingston, Mass., outlasted Hagestad, of Newport Beach, Calif., and his partner, Derek Busby, of Ruston, La., 1 up, in the Round of 16. The match came down to the 18th hole, with Parziale converting an 8-foot birdie to seal the win. Parziale and Aikens combined for nine birdies and a bogey, and the two sides tied just five holes.
But Parziale and Aikens couldn’t keep the momentum going in the afternoon quarterfinals, falling to co-medalists and Marlton, N.J., residents Troy Vannucci and Vince Kwon, 3 and 2. Vannucci, 27, and Kwon, 25, are the first medalists to advance to the semifinals in this championship.
“Emotionally, ecstatic,” said Kwon, who caddies at Philadelphia (Pa.) Cricket Club, next year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball host site. “I didn’t know we were going to get this far. But our confidence is way up there, and hopefully we can get the job done.”
East Carolina University teammates Blake Taylor, 21, of Wilmington, N.C., and Logan Shuping, 21, of Salisbury, N.C., the latter competing in his first USGA championship, eliminated the hottest side entering the quarterfinals – Bobby Leopold, of Coventry, R.I., and his brother-in-law Tyler Cooke, of Warwick, R.I. Leopold and Cooke were a combined 12 under par through their first 27 holes of match play, with the usual concessions, but they could muster just three birdies against Taylor and Shuping, who posted a 2-up victory.
Leading 1 up on 18, Shuping stuffed his approach to 6 inches, the ball glancing ever so slightly off the flagstick.
“I’m just speechless right now,” said Shuping. “It’s been an unbelievable trip. Just to see that we’re going to [the semifinals]. It was such a close match the whole round, and just to come down and see it, you know, 6 inches from the flag and know that we’re going to be playing on the last day tomorrow in a USGA event is something special.”
The other quarterfinal saw Taylor Wood, 35, of Coto de Caza, Calif., and Andrew Medley, 39, of Scottsdale, Ariz., defeat Floridians Devon Hopkins and Matt Kleinrock, 2 and 1.
The two semifinal matches on Wednesday will begin at 7 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. PDT, with the winners advancing to the 18-hole championship match that is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The champions receive custody of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Trophy for one year and gold medals. The runners-up receive silver medals. The two semifinal sides each receive bronze medals.
- All four semifinalists, provided they remain as a side, are exempt into the 2020 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Philadelphia Cricket Club, scheduled for May 23-27. The runners-up receive a three-year exemption and the champions get a 10-year exemption.
- Recently retired NFL defensive tackle Kyle Williams, of Ruston, La., saw his run come to an end in the Round of 16 with partner Gregory Berthelot, of Baton Rouge, La. The side lost to Bobby Leopold, of Coventry, R.I., and his brother-in-law, Tyler Cooke, of Warwick, R.I., 5 and 3. Williams spent 13 seasons with the Buffalo Bills, earning second-team All-Pro honors in 2010 and registering 48.5 sacks.
- “We had a lot of fun,” said Williams. “We just didn’t make enough birdies today. We played solid but just couldn’t get the ball to go in the hole.”
- Logan Shuping, of Salisbury, N.C., and partner Blake Taylor, of Wilmington, N.C., birdied their final three holes in a 1-up, come-from-behind victory in the Round of 16 over No. 32 seeds Andrew Noto and James Fuselier. Taylor’s 161-yard approach stopped 4 feet from the flag to set up the clinching birdie.
- Todd Mitchell, of Bloomington, Ill., and 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey, of Kernersville, N.C., played 71 consecutive holes without a bogey until making a 4 on the par-3 second hole in the quarterfinals. “I missed a little 3½-footer [for par],” said Harvey. “It shouldn’t have happened, but it did.”
- After bowing out in the Round of 16, Derek Busby, of Ruston, La., and Stewart Hagestad, of Newport Beach, Calif., were both off to U.S. Open sectional qualifying in Ball Ground, Ga., and Newport Beach, Calif., respectively. Busby, seeking a first U.S. Open start, will play Hawks Ridge Golf Club. Hagestad, who has qualified the past two years, will play Newport Beach Country Club and his home course, Big Canyon Country Club. He qualified for his first U.S. Open on those courses in 2017.
- All seven Louisiana players were knocked out in the Round of 16 and just two of the nine Californians survived the round. Derek Ackerman, of Santa Clara, who is partnering with ex-Santa Clara University teammate Matthew McCarty, of Scottsdale, Ariz., was eliminated in the quarterfinals later in the day, while Taylor Wood, of Coto de Caza, is in the semifinals.
“The first that comes to my mind is that we don’t have to qualify for next year. Meeting in Narnia to go qualify. Where can you make it? Where can you fly to? We’ve been to Virginia and to Kansas and up to Chicago last year and St. Louis.” – Scott Harvey on being fully exempt for next year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball by virtue of reaching the semifinals with partner Todd Mitchell.
“I felt it (fatigue) out there. And obviously, now and then until we go to sleep and all that. But, you know, adrenaline is a big thing. About the time you get to the practice center [in the morning] and start going, then things, you know, our feet hurt and all that. When you start going, you don't really think about it.” – Mitchell on the fatigue of playing two matches in one day
“It’s really special. I mean, I’ve never been this close in any event. I’ve only played in one [USGA championship, the 2017 U.S. Amateur], and didn’t make the cut, so it wasn’t nearly this close. So, it will be cool. I know there’s a lot of pressure, but we’ve handled pressure pretty well so far, and we’re just going to try to keep doing our thing.” – Blake Taylor on advancing to Wednesday’s semifinals with partner Logan Shuping
“One hundred percent awesome. I’m ecstatic that we get to play next year, being exempt. I think, to me, other than the U.S. Open, this is the hardest USGA event to qualify for. It’s crazy how tough the qualifying is.” – Taylor Wood on advancing to the semifinals with partner Andrew Medley and earning an exemption into the 2020 championship.
“In Arizona, we don't see 30 miles-per-hour gusts. I don’t recall ever hitting an 8-iron from 110 yards in the last five years. But I’ve played in a lot of wind in my past. To be honest with you, I told Taylor this afternoon when we were teeing off that I personally really enjoy playing in it, and it kind of forces you to be a little bit creative and to feel some shots. Finesse shots are important, and I think we both did a good job of kind of managing that today.” – Medley on the breezy afternoon conditions
“A lot of hours [of practice]. No one sees us just out in back of the range, the sun going down, hitting balls. The last ones on the chipping green, having putting competitions. Having putting competitions with the members, just the last one off the range.” – Troy Vannucci on preparing to play in a championship of this magnitude
“Birdie’s the name of the game in this deal. We tried to par them to death. It didn’t work out too well.” – Kyle Williams after he and partner Gregory Berthelot lost, 5 and 3, in the Round of 16.
“I get kind of black spots. On the putt on 10, I looked down and couldn’t see the ball. It’s always a process, those things. I knew it was coming. Luckily, [my partner] had some medicine. But I don’t think that affected the match much. I think those guys played well and we just didn’t have enough.” – Derek Busy on suffering from a migraine headache midway through his Round-of-16 match with partner Stewart Hagestad.
“That’s maybe the worst putt I’ve hit in 2019. I wish I could have that one back.” – Hagestad on the 15-foot birdie try he missed on the 18th hole with their Round-of-16 match tied.
“It’s always exciting to compete, but it’s a different feeling when you’re out there by yourself. It’s a different strategy. You don’t make birdies like this when you’re playing individually, because … when one person makes a mistake, the other guy can still make birdie. So, this is fun. It’s a new experience. We’ve only played stroke play [in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball before making the cut this year], but this [four-ball] match play is pretty fun.” – Matt Parziale on the four-ball format
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Social Scene
The great run from @WCCGolf1898's @TyCooke03 and @BobbyLeopold in the #USFourBall has been halted after a Quarterfinals loss.— RI Golf Association (@RIGAlinks) May 29, 2019
These two represented the RIGA and R.I. in the best possible way. Well done gentlemen. Let's congratulate them on a great week! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/P96V5wVDYw
The magical run has come to an end. Matt Parziale & Herbie Aikens fall in the quarterfinal round of the @USGA #USFourBall Championship, 3&2, to Troy Vannucci & Vince Kwon.— #MassGolf (@PlayMassGolf) May 29, 2019
We'll now wait 36 hours to cheer on our golfers in U.S. National Championships again (Sigh) pic.twitter.com/g8s3SgWTNK