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HAMPDEN, Massachusetts – A hot day led to a hot start for two Massachusetts sides at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifier at GreatHorse. Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) and Mike Calef (Pine Oaks GC) started their day with 3-straight birdies en route to earning medalist honors and return trip to the Championship Proper.
Starting on the back 9, Michael Mottola (Andover CC) made two early birdies to get he and partner Daniel Koerner (Haverhill G&CC) off and running. And while the quick start was key, Koerner’s strong finish secured their spot in the National Championship. His kick-in birdies on 8 and 9 allowed them to grab the final spot and avoid a playoff.
Also advancing through qualifying on Tuesday was the Connecticut side of Cameron Besaw (New Canaan, CT) and Peter Tomlinson (Seymour, CT). The highlight to their round was a stretch of 5-straight birdies by Tomlinson. Those birdies came with just 6 holes remaining in their round.
The fourth team to punch their ticket to Alabama were the Russell’s. Travis Russell (Washington, DC) and Evan Russell (St Albans, VT) were the last players on the course from the morning wave. Evan’s closing birdie on the par-3 9th was the difference between advancing and heading to a playoff 6+ hours after completing their round.
MASSACHUSETTS SIDES ADVANCE
Having advanced through qualifying last year, Nick Maccario and Mike Calef were among the favorites coming into the event and they took no time to confirm why. The three early birdies were paired with a birdie-eagle stretch on holes 7 and 8 to get them to 6-under at the turn. Another stretch of 3-straight birdies starting on 12 helped put them in comfortable position. And their final birdie on 16 was the exclamation point on a stunning round.
Maccario talked about the hot start to their round “Mike chipped in on one, and I had hit mine to about two feet. Then I birdied 2 and rolled in a 35-footer on 3. So yeah, it was kind of a hot start”
“Yeah, it was a hard day, but we get off to a pretty dream start. It was great.” added Calef. “I’m playing with my buddy, we had a really fun time, we were at Chambers Bay earlier this year and unfortunately just missed match play, but hopefully we do better next year.”
Calef will tee it up again Wednesday at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier at Bayberry Hills GC. “Hopefully I’ll go two-for-two. That’s the goal.”
As you read this, there is surely still a smile on the face of Michael Mottola and Daniel Koerner. Their play Tuesday earned both of them their first trip to a USGA Championship.
Koerner said they came in with no expectations “I mean we we both weren’t expecting it, you know, just came out here have a good time.” And once they were in the hunt, Koerner kicked it into overdrive. “We knew we were in the hunt. We were five-under going into our 17th hole. We figured we needed at least one (birdie) to maybe get in the playoff, and we actually went birdie-birdie to finish.”
Mottola was still grinning an hour after his round and added “I’m really excited. Yeah, it’s kind of something you always think you’re gonna be able to do maybe, but you never want to assume it’s going to happen.”
Four-Ball Qualifying will return to Massachusetts on September 23rd at Wollaston GC.
U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Nicholas Maccario (Haverhill) & Mike Calef (West Bridgewater); (-10) 62
Cameron Besaw (New Canaan, CT) & Peter Tomlinson (Seymour, CT); (-8) 64
Travis Russell (Washington, DC) & Evan Russell (St Albans, VT); (-7) 65
Michael Mottola (Andover, MA) & Daniel Koerner (Pepperell, MA); (-7) 65
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Matt Parziale (Brockton, MA) & Herbie Aikens (Kingston, MA) (-6) 66*
Aidan Emmerich (Swampscott, MA) & Christian Emmerich (Swampscott, MA) (-6) 66*
*Won in playoff
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball is among the newer crop of USGA Championships. Tuesday’s qualifying was for entry into the 7th playing of the event, which is scheduled to be held in May (2022) at the Country Club of Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama.
Even being a young event, the U.S. Four-Ball already has a collection of famed U.S. courses on its list of past venues. The inaugural version of the event was held at The Olympic Club before visiting Winged Foot GC, Pinehurst Resort & CC, Jupiter Hills Club, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, and Chambers Bay.
Massachusetts has seen a number of players represented in the championship proper. The furthest a Bay State side has advanced was the Quarterfinals. In 2019 the side of Matt Parziale & Herbie Aikens carded a second round 65 to avoid a playoff for the final spots in match play. In the Round of 32 they made quick work of their young opponents before defeating Stewart Hagestad & Derek Busby in the Round of 16.
Eligibility: Each member of the side cannot have a Handicap Index exceeding 5.4.
GreatHorse is no stranger to the competitive golf circuit in New England. With Tuesday’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifying complete, GreatHorse has now hosted a Mass Golf/NEGA/USGA event for 6 straight years.
The next few years will continue to bring some of the best amateur golf Massachusetts has to offer. The first two rounds of the 2022 Ouimet Memorial Tournament will be played at GreatHorse. And the 2023 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship will also be contested at this premiere venue.
Located in Hampden, MA, GreatHorse offers spectacular views of the Connecticut River Valley. The golf course was renovated by renown golf course designer Brian Silva. New bunkers were added, greens were rebuilt to USGA specs and the course was stretched to over 7,300 yards with new teeing options.
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