U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Taking the Fifth
December 19, 2019 | Bandon, Ore.
By David Shefter, USGA
It’s a rare day that Todd Mitchell doesn’t chat with Scott Harvey. Although separated by several states and 700 miles – Mitchell resides in Bloomington, Ill., and Harvey in Kernersville, N.C. – the two golfers have become inseparable. Each was born in 1978 and each has enjoyed national success on the mid-amateur (25 and older) level: Mitchell advanced to a U.S. Mid-Amateur final in 2008, and Harvey won that title in 2014.
They hit it off when they played an impromptu nine-hole practice match before the 2012 USGA State Team Championship at Galloway National in New Jersey, then were paired for the first two rounds of the competition.
Not long after that, the USGA inaugurated the Four-Ball, and Harvey called Mitchell to inquire about a partnership.
In late May, after four years of trying, Harvey and Mitchell finally ascended to the mountaintop. The duo claimed the 5th U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on the Old Macdonald course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore., with a 2-and-1 triumph over East Carolina University teammates Blake Taylor and Logan Shuping. The victory ended a three-year drought for mid-amateurs since Nathan Smith and Todd White won the inaugural event at The Olympic Club in 2015.
“I can’t think of a better scenario than to do something like this with Scott,” said Mitchell, who has been chasing a USGA title since he first qualified for the U.S. Amateur in 2003. “To share this [title] with him means everything.”
Added Harvey: “There’s not enough team golf events, in my opinion. This is the best event going, and it’s just more fun [with a partner]. You’re sharing every part of it with someone, and it just feel that much better.”
Harvey and Mitchell each produced key shots over the 17 holes of the final, with Mitchell coming through on Nos. 14, 15 and 16. The momentum switched when Mitchell got up and down on the 285-yard 14th for birdie to tie the match.
“That was the shot of the match,” said Harvey, a property manager who played on the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team.
Mitchell, an insurance agent and former minor-league baseball player who spent two years in the New York Yankees’ farm system, two-putted for birdie to win the par-5 15th and then, faced with a blind second to the par-4 16th, Mitchell stuffed his 155-yard 8-iron approach to 4 feet for a third consecutive birdie and a 2-up advantage.
Seconds after the match ended on 17, Harvey and Mitchell embraced in a bear hug just off the green.
The champions were not the only feel-good story of the week. Recently retired NFL defensive tackle Kyle Williams (he spent all 13 seasons with the Buffalo Bills) and fellow Louisiana native Gregory Berthelot not only qualified for match play, they reached the Round of 16 before being ousted by Bobby Leopold and his brother-in-law, Tyler Cooke. In that same round, 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale and partner Herbie Aikens edged 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad and Derek Busby, 1 up.
Three sides shared medalist honors at 13-under 128 after stroke play on Old Macdonald and sister course Pacific Dunes. Of those, New Jersey residents Troy Vannucci and Vince Kwon were the only side to reach the semifinals, falling to Mitchell-Harvey, 4 and 3.
As for the champions, they are one of two sides to have competed in all five U.S. Amateur Four-Balls, joining inaugural winners Smith-White. Other than 2015, the two had to qualify for four of them. Now they are assured of a tee time at the next 10 Four-Balls.
Hopefully, they have good cellphone plans.
|En route to the championship match, Harvey and Mitchell eliminated two of the three co-medalists, Matthew McCarty and Derek Ackerman in the quarterfinals, and Troy Vannucci and Vince Kwon in the semis. Medalists have yet to win the title in the first five years of the championship.|
|Harvey was competing in his 30th USGA championship and played in the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills.|
|“I can’t think of a better scenario than to do something like this with Scott. To share this [title] with him means everything.” – Todd Mitchell|
|Andrew Medley of Scottsdale, Ariz., who was a semifinalist with Taylor Wood, reached the Round of 32 in 2017 partnering with Ken Tanigawa, who joined the Champions Tour in 2018 after turning 50 and won the Senior PGA Championship in May.|
|U.S. Mid-Amateur champions Matt Parziale (2017) and Stewart Hagestad (2016) lost in the quarterfinals and Round of 16, respectively. Parziale and partner Herbie Aikens outlasted Hagestad and Derek Busby, 1 up, in the Round of 16, but Parziale and Aikens lost to co-medalists Vannucci and Kwon in the next round.|