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EDITOR'S NOTE: Billy Walthouse and Matt Naumec were defeated by a score of 2 and 1 to the team of Patrick Christovich and Garrett Rank in the round of 16 at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club.
Headline: 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship Kicks Off on May 27; Nine Bay State Competitors Look to Make an Impact
For Immediate Release: May 25, 2017
Billy Walthouse (left) and Matt Naumec are two of nine Bay State golfers who will be competing at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Pinehurst R&CC.
Norton, MA — Ten days after his 22nd birthday and nine days after earning his degree in Business from the University of Rhode Island, Longmeadow native Billy Walthouse will be teeing off at North Carolina’s Pinehurst Resort and Country Club at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four Ball Championship.
He and longtime friend Matt Naumec, a Wilbraham native who just completed his sophomore season at Boston College, will be teaming up together looking to compete for the national championship, a special feat that would conclude what has been a successful season for both players by anyone’s standards.
CLICK HERE for complete coverage of the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, including tee times.
For Walthouse, the trip to the Tar Heel State over Memorial Day Weekend will also be the beginning of a summer where the future remains unknown. After the Four-Ball, he will compete at the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club, the Massachusetts Open and Amateur Championships and the Ouimet Memorial Tournaments.
From there, not even he knows for sure what path he will be taking.
Eyeing the potential of turning professional, the 2017 Atlantic-10 All-Conference team member Walthouse says this summer will be key to his future plans.
“[After] the Ouimet Memorial, I probably will make my decision at the end of the summer on what I want to do. I think I am going to be turning professional as some point, either in the fall or winter,” says Walthouse. “Just competing at a big stage is good practice. Even for a Four-Ball, it plays like a big national tournament. If we make a run in it and get some recognition, that could be huge for down the road.”
It’s been nearly nine months since Walthouse and Nuamec took to the links together in a competitive event, as they did last August 25 at GreatHorse in Hampden, where they netted a combined score of 6-under 66 to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. That August marked the last time the pair, who are 16 months apart in age and grew up in towns that are within a dozen miles of each other, last walked along each other for 18-holes of competition.
Competing in different collegiate conferences, the two rarely see each other on the greens between September and May, yet even with the long time off, the two remain confident that they will be able to pick up where they last left off.
“We are pretty close. Good buddies,” said Walthouse. “Going into that [qualifier at GreatHorse], we really hadn’t played together in a while, but I don’t think that will be an issue,” describing what it’s going to be like to get right back into the swing of things.
“We’ve been texting and we might try to play each other 2 or 3 times before we go down just to feel out where we can help each other off the tees, who is going to go first and what the strategy will be,” echoed Naumec, one of the Eagle’s top scorers in the very competitive Atlantic Coast Conference, a conference that sent eight teams to this year’s NCAA Tournament. “Once we get down there, I’m sure that we will play like we would in the tournament. We’re going to strategize, get a good strategy going into the tournament and just kind of go with it. I feel comfortable with Billy and I’m hoping he feels comfortable with me.”
Naumec finished his sophomore season at Boston College, arguably his best season to date, by placing T40 at the talent-heavy ACC Men's Golf Championship at Musgrove Mill Golf Club in Clinton, S.C. The season marked the first two career victories on the collegiate circuit for Naumec, a season that included a remarkable streak of five-straight top-5 finishes.
When they do arrive, they hope their experience of playing at Pinehurst, a course Naumec describes as the “mecca of golf,” and prior experience in a USGA Championship will give them a step up on the competition they will face.
Naumec, the 2014 MGA Junior Amateur Champion, has played Pinehurst twice in the past two years for the Pinehurst Intercollegiate Tournament as well as the US Kids World Championship, an event that both he and Billy have played in growing up.
Both have also competed in the US Amateur Championship before.
Naumec said, “I still don’t get it yet because it’s only my second [US Championship], but I have a little bit of knowledge and Billy does too because played in the US Amateur, so he knows what a US Championship feels like to play in, the pressures, and how big it is. Once you get by the fact that you’re playing in a USGA Championship, it’s just another golf tournament, it’s just another golf course, it’s just another tee box with a bunker on the right side.”
He added, “I’ve realized that you go to a different course no matter where it is or who you are playing in the tournament, I’ve realized that you are not playing the other people, you’re playing the golf course. That just comes back to the USGA Championship and feeling comfortable when you’re down there and just playing your game. I think both Billy and I being partners, we keep each other in line playing our own games. That’s the great thing about playing with Billy.”
Walthouse hasn’t been down to the course since it was renovated, but he too is ready to roll. “I remember it being a pretty long course because I couldn’t hit it very far,” said of his experience playing at the US Kids, “but I’ve heard good things about it so I am excited to get down there.”
And if it happens to be one of the last events the duo competes together in as a team, Naumec has no doubt that his companion’s game will be ready.
“His game has been taken to the next level in college and you see that” he said. “[Billy] makes more birdies than a lot of kids I know. That’s very important, making birdies, and keeping it between the ears. Billy is one of the best people I know that does that … He also has a firestick of a putter as well so he can roll in some putts and as we know, that is always important too.”
For now, though, whatever that path will be, the US Four Ball is the only thing either is focused on. Naumec painted it perfectly by saying, “It’s Pinehurst. It’s a great place to practice, let alone play a USGA Championship.”
The two will represent the Bay State when they head to North Carolina for the first day of competition, which begins on May 27.
In addition to Walthouse and Naumec, other locals competing in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship include the team of Mike Walker (Marstons Mills, Mass.) and Billy Van Stratum (S. Dennis, Mass.), 2015 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Champion Jimmy Hervol (Hopkinton, Mass.), Michael Souliotis (Acton, Mass.), Taylor Fontaine (Shrewsbury, Mass.) and Matt Parziale (Brockton, Mass.) and Herbie Aikens (Kingston, Mass.).