Former Rutgers University golfers Jason Bataille of Bridgewater and Brian Whitman of Tinton Falls shot 5-under-par on their final nine holes for a total of 7-under-par 65 to share medalist honors with two other teams at sectional qualifying for the Third U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at 6,742-yard Navesink Country club in Middletown , N.J., on Wednesday, August 31.
A pair of Delaware golfers, Edwin Brown of Rehoboth Beach and Jay Whitby of Wyoming, De., and the team of Sean Sementez of Philadelphia and Jack Wallace of Norristown, Pa., also finished at 7-under par as the top three teams earned a trip to the Third U.S. Four-Ball Championship in May, 2017, at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club.
A sudden death playoff was used to determine the two alternate spots among three teams that shot 66.Pennsylvanians Jason Loehrs of Havertown and Scott McNeil of Philadelphia, won the first alternate spot in a one-hole playoff over Benjamin Feld of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and Christopher Crawford , 22, of Bensalem, Pa., who qualified for the U.S. Open at the Canoe Brook in Summit. Feld, 25, coaches Crawford at Drexel University. The team of Mike Stamberger of Brielle, N.J., and Mike Muehr of Potomac Falls, Va., formerly of Bernardsville, also shot 66, but did not gain alternate status.
The event was administered by the New Jersey State Golf Association.
For Bataille and Whitman, it will be their second consecutive appearance in the Four-Ball championship, having played this May at Winged Foot.
On the final nine holes, Whitman wielded a hot putter. He sank a 25-foot right-to-left birdie putt on No. 1, the team’s 10th hole. Two holes later, he dropped a 40-footer for birdie. At No. 6, Whitman carded an eagle, placing a 4-iron from 216 yards to 25 feet and then drained the putt. Bataille added a birdie on the par-3 seventh hole, putting a tee shot from 162 yards to one foot.
“We play two different games. And we make birdies. We’ve known each other 16 years from our Rutgers days,” Whitman said. “We’re confident with each other’s games.”
As teammates, they’ve won the Metedeconk Invitational and have placed numerous times in the top 10 at the Baltusrol Invitational.
“We trust each other’s reads and that’s a big thing for us as a team,” said Bataille.
Brown, 47, and Whitby, 29, both scratch golfers, are members of the Rehoboth Beach Country Club. They failed to qualify for the event a year ago, but have teamed up in various events the past four years.
“We made a bunch of putts out there. A lot of times we had two balls on the green in position for birdies,” said Whitby, who played two years on the professional mini-tour circuit but is now a reinstated amateur. “We were in a good pairing (with Stamberger and Muehr) and enjoy their company. We all played some good golf.”
Highlights included Whitby’s five-iron shot from 185 yards off the tee on the par-3 third hole that resulted in a tap-in and Brown’s 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18.
Semenetz and Wallace played in the first U.S. Four-Ball Championship at Olympic Club in San Francisco and missed the cut by two strokes. The two were teammates at Drexel University.
Wallace, 32, a civil engineer, won the 2012 Pennsylvania State Mid-Am and the 2014 Debaufre Mid-Am at Philadelphia Country Club. Sementez this year defeated Wallace in the finals of the club championship at Philadelphia Cricket Club.
McNeil and Loehrs are friends from the Cobbs Creek municipal course in Philadelphia. McNeil, 30, played golf at Temple University and last year won the Golf Association of Philadelphia Mid-Am and the Pennsylvania Mid-Am.
Loehrs, 35, played in the U.S. Public Links in 2013. The two attempted qualifying for the U.S. Four-Ball in 2015.
Stamberger, 44, is a two-time NJSGA Amateur champion and one-time State Mid-Am champion. He has also won the Met Amateur the New York City Amateur, and this year won the Eagle Oaks Invitational.
Muehr , 44, won the Met am and the Ike and has played in six U.S. Amateurs. He took a competitive golf hiatus from 2003 to 2007 following a diagnosis of skin cancer. He has also played in three U.S. Mid-Amateurs, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2011. Muehr played collegiate golf at Duke University..