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PITTSFIELD, Massachusetts – When Nick Maccario (Bradford CC) and Mike Calef (Pine Oaks GC) teamed up in a four-ball event for the first time last year, they won the 2019 Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship together. About 18 months later, the duo has now earned a spot on the national stage.
Maccario and Calef secured the second and final spot in a sudden-death playoff held at a qualifier for the 2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championshp on a windy Tuesday at Berkshire Hills Country Club (par-72, 6,780 yards). Calef made birdie on three of the final four holes, while Maccario sank his birdie putt in the three-way playoff.
Sam Goldenring and Will Kannegieser, who graduated Williams College in the spring, also advanced through via the playoff, as both qualifying teams made birdie on the 531-yard, par-5 10th hole, the first and only playoff hole needed. James Cimini (Stoughton) & Joshua Shepard (Pittsfield), who qualified for the 2019 U.S. Four-Ball, made the playoff but finished as first alternate.
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, is scheduled to take place May 22-26, 2021, at Chambers Bay Golf Course in Washington state.
QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Nick Maccario (Waltham) & Mike Calef (Portsmouth, Rhode Island); (-6) 66
Sam Goldenring (Florham Park, New Jersey) & Will Kanneieser (Minot, Maine); (-6) 66
ALTERNATES (In Order)
James Cimini (Stoughton) & Joshua Shepard (Pittsfield); (-6) 66
Tyler Cooke (Warwick, Rhode Island) & Robert Leopold (Coventry, Rhode Island); (-5) 67
Maccario, the runner-up in this year’s Mass Amateur, New England Amateur and Ouimet Memorial Tournament, hasn’t had much luck in tight matches this year, but he’s 2-for-2 in playoffs for USGA qualifiers. In July 2019, he won a playoff on Andover’s 10th hole to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur Championship, his lone USGA event to date.
“Anytime you can make a USGA event, once you go to one, you wasn’t to go to multiple,” Maccario said. “To have such a solid partner is great, and we’re looking forward to going out to the west coast to play.”
All three playoff teams shot 6-under-par 66 to head to a three-way playoff. Calef and Maccario were in the fairway off the tee, and both had birdie putts inside 6 feet. Though Calef’s just lipped out, Maccario stepped up and made his 3-and-a-half footer.
While that may be the case, Calef carried the pair on the back nine with his three birdies putts down the stretch. The pair shot 2-under on the front nine, and though Maccario would later get revenge on the 10th, he three-putted for par to start the back nine.
“Greens were rolling very well, but it was tough to make putts,” Calef said. “It’s a day where it’s tough to get the ball in the hole. I knew if we kept hitting good putts, one would hop in.”
Maccario made birdie on the 11th, and saved par with a clutch putt on the 12th. Needing more to make it through, Calef stepped up to the 15th and a hit a 25-foot downhill putt to move the team to 4-under. “He said, ‘I got this’ and made it,” Maccario said. Calef then followed up with another 20-foot putt that fell in dead center of the cup.
“I knew if we kept hitting good putts, one would hop in,” said Calef, who also birdied the par-5 18th after both had chances for eagle.
While they’re great friends now, the pair actually first met when they were paired up at the Tri-State Matches in 2018. Calef had come back from Texas, while Maccario was still slowly climbing up the ranks.
“We hit it off,” Calef said. “We both were looking for a (Mass) Four-Ball partner, so we stumbled into that. Obviously, since then, we’ve struck off a good friendship. During practice rounds, we talk through golf courses, and we enjoy playing in events together.”
Sam Goldenring and Will Kannegieser were in the same situation at last year’s qualifier. Despite carding a 7-under par 65 at Springfield Country Club., Goldenring and Kannegieser lost in a three-way playoff for the second and had to settle for the first alternate position.
However, the pair made birdie in their three-way playoff this time to earn one of the two spots up for grabs. The former Ephs made three birdies on each the front and back nine, including on the 18th. Goldenring had birdie on holes 4 and 10, while Kannegieser finished out the front nine with birdies on holes 7 and 9, adding two more on holes 15 and 18.
Kannegieser, who was also a competitive skiier at Williams, placed top 50 in the New England Amateur this year. He also earned PING All-Northeast honors by the Golf Coaches Association of America, as did Goldenring, the 2019 NCAA Division III individual national champion.
Meanwhile, the team of Josh Shepard (Pittsfield) and Jamie Cimini (Stoughton) came up short in their bid to qualify. Shepard, a member at the Country Club of Pittsfield and Cimini (Granite Links GC) both attended Pittsfield High School and remain playing partners despite living on opposite sides of the state. In 2019, the pair played in the U.S. Four-Ball but missed the cut.
Despite finishing with seven birdies combined, the pair was set back by a bogey on the 10th hole, that would’ve otherwise given them the outright victory in the qualifier.
On September 21, University of Maryland’s Dillon Brown (Halifax) and Boston College’s Nicholas Cummings (Weston), clinched their spot in the U.S. Four-Ball qualifier at Indian Pond Country Club in Kingston. Herbie Aikens (Kingston) and Matt Parziale (Brockton) secured the second spot, making for a Mass Golf sweep.
Mass Golf will provide coverage for its competitors playing in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship being contested from May 22-26, 2021. Visit MassGolf.org and follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest information.