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HAMPDEN, Massachusetts – Every minute of daylight and a few minutes of headlights were needed at GreatHorse to determine the three qualifying teams for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on Thursday.
The teams of Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC) & Herbie Aikens (Old Sandwich GC), Mike Dunham (Concord CC) & Jackson Kingman (Concord CC), and John Hayes (Portland, ME) & Reese Mcfarlane (Cape Elizabeth, ME) all survived a four-team playoff as darkness set on Hampden, Massachusetts.
ONLINE: FINAL QUALIFYING RESULTS | U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL HOME
The folks at the USGA won’t need name tags when Matt Parziale and Herbie Aikens roll into town in 2023. Thursday marked the 5th time in the event’s 8-year history that the Massachusetts tandem has qualified for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
“The excitement level is as high as it gets.” said Matt Parziale, who made six of the team’s birdies. “These are long, hard days, so advancing makes it feel that much better.”
‘Long day’ doesn’t begin to do it justice for Parziale and Aikens. They hit their opening tee shots at 8:18 a.m. and sunk their final putt, in a playoff at 7:38 p.m.
Waiting out the entirety of the afternoon wave is a difficult task, especially when it comes on the heels of a missed putt.
Talking about the final hole of regulation, Aikens said “I missed a pretty short putt on 18 that I should have made. It would have made the waiting process a lot easier. So I had to sit there, think about it, and dwell on it for six hours.”
After that six hour wait, the two found themselves in a four-team playoff for three spots. And they were quickly greeted with another bit of misfortune. Parziale’s tee shot on the first playoff hole came to rest in a divot, and forced him to play conservatively to the middle of the green, eliminating the thought of birdie.
That put the pressure directly on the shoulders of Aikens. And he was ready for the challenge. Aikens’ approach shot came to rest 20-feet away from the hole. And after Parziale secured a par, it set the stage for the biggest putt of the day. Aikens redeemed himself with the clinching putt, and another coveted trip to a USGA Championship.
“It was great.” said Aikens. “After dwelling on it (the missed putt) for six hours, it felt really good.”
John Hayes and Reese Mcfarlane saw their share of fireworks during their round. They used an eagle to erase two bogies, and mixed in six birdies to advance to the playoff. After making par on the first playoff hole, they did exactly what they did in regulation on the 15th hole – make birdie. That birdie sent them to the photo booth for a picture with the USGA plaques.
For Mike Dunham and Jackson Kingman, 2023 will mark the first trip to the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship as a team. Dunham has played in two USGA Championships (Mid-Am) previously, but this will mark Kingman’s first time on the national stage.
“I was telling Jack, tournament golf is different. And whether you succeed or not, it’s still fun. But tournament golf is different than what you play on a regular basis. You’re just focused more.” said Dunham.
The focus was the difference for the duo from Concord. With darkness setting, and headlights from golf carts lighting the green, it took every bit of patience and fortitude to stay the course as others were making birdie. With Parziale/Aikens advancing with a birdie first, then Hayes/Mcfarlane on the second, it left two teams for the final spot. In the end Dunham and Kingman secured a par on a 97-yard hole to earn a trip to Kiawah Island.
“It’s exciting.” added Dunham. “I don’t play as much tournament golf as I used to, and Jack’s just getting into it. So it was great to be able to succeed like this.”
U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Matt Parziale (Brockton, MA) & Herbie Aikens (Kingston, MA); (-6) 66*
John Hayes (Portland, MA) & Reese Mcfarlane (Cape Elizabeth, ME); (-6) 66**
Michael Dunham (Concord, MA) & Jackson Kingman (Concord, MA); (-6) 66***
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Jake Shuman (Boston, MA) & Patrick O’Leary (Milton, MA); (-6) 66
Sean Kiley (Fiskdale, MA) & Derek Yvon (Springfield, MA); (-5) 67**
*Advanced on first playoff hole
**Advanced on second playoff hole
***Advanced on third playoff hole
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The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship are among the newest national championships to be conducted by the USGA. The two Four-Ball Championships replaced the now-retired U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships, which were conducted for the final time in 2014.
The Championship will be played for the 8th time in May of 2023. It will be held at Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique Course (Tom Watson Design) and River Course (Tom Fazio Design).
Eligibility states that each member of the side cannot have a Handicap Index® exceeding 5.4. Qualifying is being held at 52 sites from August through December of 2022.
At the 2022 Championship, two Massachusetts-based teams were among the top-32 and advanced to Match Play. Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) and Mike Calef (Pine Oaks GC) advanced to the Round of 16 before falling to the top-seeded team. And the duo of Joseph Lenane (KOHR Golf) & Aidan O’Donovan (Cummaquid Golf Club) also won their opening match to advance to the Round of 16 before bowing out.
Thursday marked the second time in as many years, and third time total, that GreatHorse played host to U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifying. With this national championship being in just its 8th year, GreatHorse is quickly becoming a regular spot for the qualifying rounds.
One of the great stories of the 2022 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship came by way of the GreatHorse Qualifier. The USGA featured Mike Mottola’s Remarkable Recovery as he and partner Daniel Koerner teed it up down in Birmingham. The two shot 65 at GreatHorse to edge out Matt Parziale+Herbie Aikens and Christian Emmerich+Aidan Emmerich for the final spot.
GreatHorse has also hosted many of Mass Golf’s most prestigious Championships. Earlier this year, the first two rounds of the Ouimet Memorial Tournament were played at the Brian Silva masterpiece. It has also played host to the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship (2020), the Massachusetts Open Championship (2018), and the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship (2016).
Next up for GreatHorse is the 2023 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship and the 2025 Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
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