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KINGSTON, Massachusetts – One team secured its first appearance together. Another clinched its fourth. Together, their efforts highlighted the return of USGA competition in the Bay State by qualifying for the 2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball on Monday at Indian Pond Country Club (par-72, 6,684 yards).
Boston College standout Nicholas Cummings (Weston/Marlborough CC) teamed with longtime friend and fellow DI athlete Dillon Brown (Halifax/CC of Halifax), of the University of Maryland, and they carded an 8-under 64 to earn medalist honors. Meanwhile, Matt Parziale (Brockton/Thorny Lea GC) and Herbie Aikens (Kingston/Old Sandwich GC) finished as alternates last year but shot a 7-under 65 to earn a trip back to the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, which they played in back in 2019.
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.
Cummings (Marlborough CC) and Brown (CC of Halifax) played in their first tournaments together when they were 7 years old and have since played in several Mass Golf and USGA events over the years. In fact, when Cummings made his first USGA appearance at the 2015 U.S. Amateur at age 15, his playing partner was none other than newly-crowned U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.
“I showed Dillon a photo of Bryson and me; I was 5-foot-5, and Bryson was 180 [pounds],” said Cummings, now a sophomore at BC. “He had a good day yesterday, and we had a good one today.”
Whether inspired by DeChambeau or not, Brown and Cummings also had to rally after the pair made bogey on holes 5 and 6 to drop to even-par. However, they responded by making birdie or better on seven of the final 12 holes.
“I said if we could get to 2-under on the turn, we’d knew the back-9 was the one to attack,” said Brown, a junior at Maryland.
That’s exactly what happened, as Brown made back-to-back birdies on holes 7 and 8, and Cummings swung them back into contention with an eagle on the 553-yard, par-5 10th hole. Cummings whacked his driver to 193 yards out, hit a 5-iron to 4 feet and made the putt. Even more impressive was that Brown took himself out of the hole with an errant tee shot.
“We helped each other when the other was out of the hole, and that made the difference,” said Cummings, who then added a 25-foot birdie putt on the 340-yard, par-4 12th.
Brown, who played in the 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, helped lock up another appearance as he made a pair of putts outside of 10 feet on hole 13 and 14. Cummings then moved the team to 8-under with a birdie on the 16th.
Brown, who is studying remotely said his game has been skyrocketing since Cummings caddied for him during the final round of this year’s Ouimet Memorial Tournament and helped him shoot a 67 at Woodland. On Monday, Brown’s dad looped for the pair and helped them earn a trip to Chambers Bay, the site of the 2015 U.S. Open.
“It’s good we were able to make this happen,” Brown said.
Indian Pond isn’t just like home, it is home for Herbie Aikens. For years, Aikens has lived across the street from the club as his house is visible through the trees on the second tee. “It’s as much of a home game as possible,” Aikens said.
His playing partner, 2019 Mass Golf Player of the Year Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC), wasn’t as familiar with the course, but the pair combined for eight birdies. Just like Brown and Cummings, the pair made went 2-under on the front and made six birdies on the back nine to clinch a fourth trip to the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (2016, ’17, ’19, ’21).
In their last appearance, the pair made the quarterfinals at Bandon Dunes out in Oregon. Over the winter, they’ll prepare for another trip to one of the finest courses in the Pacific Northwest.
“[Chambers Bay] is the only place farther than Bandon,” Aikens said. “But we love it. If it was on the moon, we’d go.”
Parziale, the runner-up at this year’s Mass Mid-Amateur Championship, got the pair rolling on the back nine, after reaching the green in two on the par-5 10th and two-putting for birdie. Aikens then went on a run by making his lone birdies on holes 13, 15 and 16 to bring the pair to 6-under.
On the 574-yard, par-5 18th, Parziale made the decisive birdie to move them to 7-under. After hitting driver to 286 yards out, he hit a 3-wood to the back of the fringe, and two-putted for birdie to give the pair the second and final spot.
“We were grinding,” Aikens said of Monday’s qualifier. “From a results standpoint, it was nice to finish with something like this and have something to look forward to right in the beginning of next year.”
QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Dillon Brown (Halifax) & Nicholas Cummings (Weston); (-8) 64
Herbie Aikens (Kingston) & Matt Parziale (Brockton); (-7) 65
ALTERNATES (In Order)
James Magner (Duxbury) and Jonathan Stoddard (Hanover); 66 (-6)
John Hayes (Portland, Maine) and Reese MacFarlane (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) 66 (-6)
Duxbury United: Former Duxbury High School classmates James Magner and Jonathan Stoddard took the lead through the morning rounds as duo combined for a 6-under 66 to finish third overall. In 2009, Stoddard and Magner led Duxbury to the MIAA Division II state championship, with Stoddard trying for the low round with an even-par 72. The pair both belong to Plymouth Country Club now.
College Kids: With the college season by and large called off this year, Cummings and Brown weren’t the only ones to place in the top 10 Monday. Walpole Country Club’s Jack Boulger and Matthew Conti attend UConn and Southern New Hampshire, respectively, and placed T8 by shooting 4-under 68. Holy Cross’ Christian Emmerich and his younger brother Aidan Emmerich, both of Kernwood Country Club, shot 3-under to place T9.
Top Mid-Am Finishers Compete: Some of the top competitors from the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship played in the Four-Ball Qualifier on Monday. In total, four of the top-15 finishers teed it up in the Qualifier.
(2) Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC)
(5) Colin Brennan (Indian Ridge CC)
(T8) Andrew DiRamio (North Hill CC)
(T15) Dan Cappucci (Boston GC)
The next Bay State qualifier for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship will take place on October 6 at Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield. To see starting times for that qualifying event, CLICK HERE
For complete coverage of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifier, visit MassGolf.org or follow @PlayMassGolf on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.