BANDON — Scott Harvey got an early birthday present from Todd Mitchell in the championship match of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on Wednesday.
When the championship match against East Carolina University teammates Logan Shuping and Blake Taylor appeared to be slipping away, Mitchell came up with several big shots, making birdie on three straight holes on the Old Macdonald course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort to turn the tide in a 2 and 1 victory that gave the friends their first title in five tries at the event.
Todd Mitchell, left, and Scott Harvey hold the trophy after winning the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at the Old Macdonald golf course a…
“I finally showed up,” Mitchell said of the stretch, when he birdied Nos. 14, 15 and 16 after he and Harvey had gone 1-down when Taylor birdied the 13th hole by nearly holing a wedge and making the putt.
On the uphill 14th, which was playing 285 yards, Shuping drove the green and had an uphill eagle putt, while Harvey was in the bunker right of the green and Mitchell in a swale just short of the putting surface.
“Something needed to happen,” Mitchell said. “The momentum had shifted, but we were still in it.
“With him being on the green, we needed to make something happen. I was able to hit the shot we needed at that time.”
Mitchell hit a chip that ran up the green to tap-in range, a putt conceded by Shuping and Taylor, and then Shuping three-putted for par, giving the hole and the momentum back to Mitchell and Harvey.
On the par-5 15th, Mitchell hit his second shot to the back edge of the green and nearly made the curling downhill putt for another conceded birdie and a 1-up lead. Then on the 16th, he hit an 8-iron from 155 yards the perfect distance and made the short birdie putt and the match was over a few minutes later when the teams halved the 17th hole with pars.
The pair came close to a title the first year of the four-ball reaching the semifinals back in 2015, but hadn’t come as close since — Mitchell pointed out that they have lost in every round but the final — so Wednesday was special for the two who have become close friends in big part because they play together in this event each spring.
“I got teary eyed on 17,” said Harvey, who turns 41 on Thursday. “It’s special. USGA championships (are) not easy to come by. You get to share this with somebody.”
“As close as Scott and I have become over the past six years, I am elated that it came together like this,” added Mitchell.
The teammates said they love the format because it is a team event.
“It’s the single most fun event we play each year,” Mitchell said during the awards ceremony, thanking the USGA for creating it.
“There’s not enough team golf events,” Harvey said later. “And like he said out there, this is the best event going currently, and it’s just more fun. Everything you’re doing is with someone. You’re sharing every part of it with someone and it just feels that much better.”
The championship match was played during the stiffest winds of the week and was a great battle between the two sides — the college teammates who will be seniors this fall and the 40-year-old friends who have played 59 USGA events between them.
They halved the first four holes, with pars except for the third, where Shuping rolled in a 20-foot putt before Harvey made a shorter putt for birdie.
Harvey hit his tee shot close on the short par-3 fifth and made the putt and then he rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on the par-5 sixth hole, which was playing into the teeth of the wind to put his side 2-up.
Taylor nearly holed his approach on the uphill seventh for birdie and then he and Shuping both put their approaches in short range and were conceded a birdie on the 10th when both their opponents were in trouble and unable to make par.
They halved the next two holes before Taylor’s birdie on 13 that set up the dramatic stretch of birdies by Mitchell.
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Afterward, the winners congratulated the runners-up and told them they have a bright future.
“You have a lot to be proud of,” Harvey said. “That was great golf out there.”
Shuping and Taylor agreed.
“We played great today,” Shuping said. “They just got hot.”
It was the same earlier in the round, he said.
“I thought we played great on the first six holes and we were down two,” he said.
Logan Shuping tees off Wednesday toward the 10th hole on Old MacDonald during the championship match of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championshi…
Earlier in the day, Shuping and Taylor beat Taylor Wood and Andrew Medley 2-up when Blake Taylor made birdie on the 18th hole. It was the third straight match they made birdie on 18 to clinch a victory.
“It was fun to make it to the last day,” Taylor said. “We were just saying, we didn’t want to leave.”
Wood and Medley gave credit to the college teammates.
“Hats off to them,” Medley said. “They just played fantastic golf. They just made some really big putts.”
Shuping rolled in a 40-footer on No. 12 that gave his side a 3-up lead, but Wood and Medley battled back to pull within one when Medley birdied the 17th.
Mitchell and Harvey won the other semifinal 4 and 3 over Troy Vannuci and Vince Kwon, the last of the three co-medalists still alive in the tournament.
“They were playing great golf,” Vannucci said. “I mean, we would have had to make birdie to win a hole. You’re not going to win with pars against these guys.”
The New Jersey friends left Bandon with a pair of medals each, one for being co-medalist and a bronze for reaching the semifinals.
“Just a good experience,” Kwon said. “I’m not upset because we got (beat). I mean it can’t get any better than this.”
For reaching the semifinals, they are automatically in next year’s tournament, which will be held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
As winners, Mitchell and Harvey don’t have to worry about qualifying for this event again for 10 years.
“I was happy when we won in the quarterfinals because we wouldn’t have to qualify next year,” Harvey said. “It’s always the funnest time of the year.”
Some of the 256 golfers who were in town for this tournament might be back at the resort next summer, when Bandon Dunes hosts the U.S. Amateur.