(VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C.) – Ohio State University teammates Clark Engle and Will Grimmer carded a 6-under-par 64 on Pinehurst Resort & Country’s Club’s Course No. 2 on Sunday to earn medalist honors by one stroke in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
Grimmer, a rising junior, and Engle, who just completed his college eligibility, bested 18-hole leaders Davis Shore and Wilson Furr. Both sides easily qualified for match play, which begins Monday at 9 a.m. on Course No. 2. An 8-for-6 playoff for those tied at 1-under 140 will commence Monday at 7 a.m. to determine the final match-play berths in the 32-side draw.
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play, with the low 32 sides advancing to match play. The championship is scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final Wednesday afternoon. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Engle, 22, of Springfield, Ohio, and Grimmer, 20, of Cincinnati, Ohio, birdied five holes on Course No. 2’s outward nine, which last hosted the U.S. Open in 2014 when Grimmer, then 17, was the youngest player in the field. While Engle drained five of the pair’s six birdie putts Sunday, he credited his teammate with setting them up to claim the No. 1 seed.
“Will’s been hitting first off the tee, and usually hitting a really great shot,” said Engle, who graduated earlier this month. “So, there hasn’t been a lot of pressure on me to hit the green. Most of the time, he’s telling me, ‘I’m in close, you can be aggressive now,’ so I just go right for the pin. That helped me play well on the front, and we just went from there.”
The two Buckeyes also achieved their goal of not making a bogey during stroke play. In the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Winged Foot, where they eventually lost in the Round of 16, they made four bogeys in stroke play.
“We actually haven’t made any bogeys the last four days, including practice rounds,” said Grimmer who admitted his six-foot uphill par putt on the 18th green Sunday seemed a little longer on account of that objective. “We really wanted to come out and attack stroke play, and we did that, so now we have to stay focused and try to get through each match, and, hopefully, come out on top this Wednesday.”
The pair also has a history of playing well individually at Pinehurst. Grimmer shot Pinehurst’s only known 59, in the 2013 North & South Junior Amateur on Course No. 1, and Engle carded a 65 on Pinehurst No. 2 in the 2015 North & South Amateur, where he was a semifinalist.
“For both of us to come in with such great history playing here, we want to win this,” said Grimmer.
Added Engle: “We were at dinner, and someone said, ‘Welcome home,’ which was interesting. And, then we were teeing off today, and I thought, ‘I really do feel at home on this course.’ Today was one of the most fun days of golf I’ve had. Playing great on Course No. 2 with Will, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”
Eighteen-year-olds, Furr, of Jackson, Miss., and Shore, of Bloomington, Ill., who led Saturday after firing the championship’s low round, an 8-under par 63 on Course. No. 8, followed with a 67 on Course No. 2 to take the second seed.
“This course [No. 2] definitely played tougher than [No.] 8, at least for us,” said Furr who is playing at Pinehurst for the first time this week. “Out here, you just have to hit fantastic shots to get it anywhere close to the hole. We did really well avoiding mistakes, but just weren’t spot on – still feel good about it though.”
Furr and Shore, who are set to be roommates this fall at the University of Alabama, carded their first and only bogey of the weekend on the par-4 second hole. On No. 3, Shore, who is the highest ranked player in the field at No. 41 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, holed a 20-foot birdie putt to pull them even. They added consecutive birdies on Nos. 8 and 9.
One of three father-son teams in the field, Ben, 23, and Dan Corfee, 52, matched Engle and Grimmer’s 64 on Course No. 2 Sunday, helping the UC-Davis alumni (Ben graduates in two weeks) from El Macero, Calif., advance to match play. Their round, which included seven birdies, six on Ben’s ball, followed a less-than-desirable 1-over-par 72 the previous day on Course. No. 8.
“I made him play with me this year,” said Dan who has played a round of golf with Ben every weekend for the last decade, but only one other four-ball event. After that tournament, Ben told his father he’d never partner with him again. “I said, ‘You have to play with your dad one time [in a competition] before I get too old.’ And he begrudgingly accepted. That’s a true story. He would definitely play with somebody else, happily.”
Shay Bhatia, 15, and Grayson Wotnosky, 16, of Wake Forest, N.C., the second-youngest team in the field, posted 8-under 133 to share the third seed with Floridians Chip Brooke and 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Marc Dull. Both sides played Course No. 8 Sunday, with the teenagers counting five birdies against one bogey, while Brooke, 41, of Bartow, and Dull, 31, of Winter Haven, backed up Saturday’s 65 with a 68.
Both Brooke and Dull are employed by Streamsong Resort, which hosted the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Dull, the grandson of two-time U.S. Senior Amateur champion Dexter Daniels, works as a caddie, while Brooke was instrumental in developing the resort’s caddie program.
The 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champions Nathan Smith, 38, of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Todd White, 49, of Spartanburg, S.C., safely advanced to match play by following a first-round 69 on Course No. 2 with a 67 on Course No 8. Members of the victorious 2013 USA Walker Cup Team, Smith and White notched four consecutive birdies to start their round on Sunday.
“To me, you had to get the course before 7 and 8 [holes],” said Smith on the team’s early attack. “It just seemed to get really, crazy tough, especially with the wind.”
Stewart Hagestad, the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and low amateur in this year’s Masters, missed the cut by one stroke with University of Southern California teammate Sam Smith. Other notables to miss the cut include 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball runners-up Sherrill Britt and Greg Earnhardt, and 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur champion Doug Hanzel and Bob Royak.