A Round-of-16 match at the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship between a pair of 2013 USA Walker Cup competitors and two standout collegiate teammates figured to be stout, and neither side disappointed the gallery who walked the Olympic Club’s Lake Course on Tuesday.
Four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith, 36, of Pittsburgh, and Todd White, 47, of Spartanburg, S.C., posted a hard-fought, 2-and-1 victory over 2014 USA World Amateur Team member Bryson DeChambeau, 21, of Clovis, Calif., and fellow Southern Methodist University junior Austin Smotherman, 20, of Loomis, Calif.
The two sides combined for 10 birdies – six by DeChambeau/Smotherman – but three critical bogeys were a major factor.
Clinching hole: The par-5 17th hole, where Smith came up just short of the green and calmly rolled his eagle putt from the fringe to a couple of feet after he and White’s opponents both flew their third shots over the right side of the green.
Momentum shifter: After Smotherman made consecutive birdies on Nos. 4 and 5 to give his side a 1-up lead, he three-putted No. 6 for a bogey. DeChambeau then nearly aced the 274-yard, par-4 seventh hole as his tee shot rolled up the bank and stopped 3 feet right of the hole. But he lipped out the eagle putt and missed the 4-footer coming back after White had converted his 6-foot birdie putt.
Another near ace: DeChambeau quickly recovered from the disappointment at No. 7 by stuffing a 5-iron to a foot at the 192-yard eighth hole for a conceded birdie, which squared the match.
Turning point: With the match all square at No. 13, Smotherman and DeChambeau both failed to get up and down for pars. White then rolled in his 2-footer for par and a 1-up lead, one the side never relinquished.
Staying in it: DeChambeau and Smotherman easily could have lost holes 14 and 15 if not for some clutch putting. DeChambeau converted an 8-footer on 14 and a 14-footer on the par-3 15th after their opponents each stuffed their tee shots to a couple feet.
Fun and games: DeChambeau and Smotherman presented their elder opponents with a box of adult undergarments on the first tee. Both Smith and White took the light-hearted gesture in style. “That was great,” said White. “It just shows how comfortable they are with us and we are with them with the age difference. Once you tee off, it’s no big deal.”
Quotable: “For me, I kind of found something and played well today. I felt like I was kind of a load for him yesterday … and I felt pretty good with how I played today…It was special stuff.” – Smith
“We made three bogeys today to lose holes. It’s not something we normally do.” – Smotherman