The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball championship this week gave some of the best male amateur golfers a chance to showcase their skills.
After five long days of golf, incoming Arizona State player Kiko Francisco Coelho and Central Florida sophomore Leopoldo Herrera III defeated University of Nevada teammates Brendan MacDougall and Sam Meek in 19 holes in the championship match.
Perhaps more important to local golf fans, it was also a showcase for the host course, Chambers Bay.
For the first time since the 2015 U.S. Open, a USGA event was held at the Pierce County links course on Puget Sound in University Place, and there was one big change in the years since.
The fine fescue greens, which were widely criticized for being bumpy during the U.S. Open, were replaced with native poa annua grass — a monthslong process that began in the fall of 2018 and was endorsed by the USGA.
Chambers Bay officials were confident the course would acquit itself well in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.
“I can’t say enough about Eric Johnson (director of agronomy at Chambers Bay), and his crew,” said Matt Allen, vice president of operations for Kemper Sports, which runs Chambers Bay. “There was a lot riding on this for them, too.”
Allen said he was confident the new greens would perform from “a speed, smoothness and consistency standpoint” but unanswered was if they would be as firm as the USGA likes.
“Now we know we can get them to where they need to be for firmness, too,” Allen said.
The players said they liked it, and more important when it comes to possibly getting another U.S. Open or a U.S. Women’s Open, the USGA liked it.
That became clear Monday when the USGA announced that the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur would be held at Chambers Bay.
“From our standpoint, the golf course is magnificent, it’s in wonderful condition, especially the putting greens — especially the regrassed putting greens — and we knew they would be as we were paying attention leading up to it,” John Bodenhamer, the Lakewood product who is the senior managing director for the USGA and oversees the U.S. Open, said Monday. “I talked to a number of players and they were all very positive.”
Having the course perform well at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball was a necessity if the stated goal of bringing another U.S. Open — or a U.S. Women’s Open — is going to become a reality.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur also will be an important chance to showcase the course.
“The Four-Ball was a great first step and the Women’s Amateur is a terrific next step,” Allen said.
Bodenhamer agreed that the course is on the right track for getting an even bigger event, but stopped short of saying that will happen.
“I don’t know whether they will get a U.S. Women’s Open or a U.S. Open, but I know the relationship (with Chambers Bay) is something we feel very strongly about,” he said. “We love the relationship. This is a special place, with a special story, and the renewed commitment with regrassing the greens and all the positive outcomes.
“And it’s not just a USGA thing, it’s a regionwide thing. The investment that Pierce County made in regrassing the greens is huge, and it will be huge for years, if not decades to come for folks who play here.”
“This week is a positive, next year keep it on a positive with the U.S. Women’s Amateur, and the rest, let’s see what happens,” Bodenhamer said. “It’s a competitive process (to get a U.S. Open and a U.S. Women’s Open) and I can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I guarantee you we are paying attention.”
- Notre Dame teammates Palmer Jackson and Davis Chatfield knocked off five USGA champions before finally falling in the semifinals to Coelho and Herrera III. Jackson and Chatfield defeated defending champions Scott Harvey and Todd Mitchell in the round-of-32,
Tuesday, Jackson and Chatfield defeated the 2015 champions Nathan Smith and Todd White, and then defeated 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Preston Summerhays and 17-year-old Luke Potter, of Encinitas, Calif., in the quarterfinals.
- The longest match in U.S. Amateur Four-Ball history — the championship began in 2015 — happened Tuesday when Blake Hathcoat and Michael Slesinski defeated Cole Berman and Michael Davis in 25 holes in 7 hours, 54 minutes.
- PGA Professional Jeff Coston, 65, of Semiahmoo won the Washington Open in Meridian Valley in Kent by two strokes, becoming the oldest section major winner and the winner of the most tournaments with six.
He shot a 10-under 206 over the three rounds.