Teenagers Jack Wall of Manasquan River Golf Club and Brendan Hansen of Spring Lake Golf Club shot seven-under-par on their final nine holes to finish with a nine-under-par 62 to earn medalist honors in the sectional qualifying round of the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
The event, administered by the New Jersey State Golf Association, was held on Tuesday at the par-71, 6,576-yard Green Brook Country Club in North Caldwell.
Troy Vannucci and Vince Kwon, both of Marlton and members of the Little Mill Country Club in Marlton, shot eight-under-par 63 to secure the runner-up position. Jack Wall’s older brothers, Ethan and Jeremy Wall, combined for a 64 to lock down the third and final qualifying spot for the championship, which takes place May 25-29, at Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon.
Four teams shot 66 and played off for the two alternate spots, which went to Steve Zychowski of Mendham Golf and Tennis Club and Tom Collins of Essex County Country Club (first alternates) and Sam Bernstein and Greg Shuman, both of New York (second alternates).
Wall and Hansen are teammates who have led Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft to consecutive NJSIAA Tournament of Champions titles.
Both players have had a busy and successful season. This May, Hansen paired with another CBA teammate, Randall Lazzaro, to win the NJSGA Four-Ball Championship. Wall was originally scheduled to be Hansen’s partner in that event, but could not take the time off from school. Hansen then asked Lazzaro to become his partner in the NJSGA event.
A year ago, Wall and Hansen missed a qualifying spot for the event by one stroke at Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, N.Y., and settled for the second alternate spot.
“After that, we said we wanted to keep playing together until we made it,” said Wall, who has committed to play golf next year at the University of South Carolina. In July, Wall lost in a playoff for the NJSGA Amateur Championship to Dylan Stein of Stanton Ridge. Hansen was T10 at the event.
“From last year, we learned you’ve got to keep making birdies. If you have them, you have a good chance to qualify,” added Wall, the 2017 NJSGA Junior champion.
Their run over their final nine holes, Nos. 1 through 9, included five birdies and an eagle on the uphill, 267-yard par-4 No. 4. Both drove the green, and Hansen, a Rutgers commit, sank a 40-foot eagle putt there.
“We knew if we played our own games and made the birdies we’re supposed to make, then we’d have a pretty good score. On our front nine, we were only two under, but on the back, things really started rolling,” said Hansen, who won the 2017 NJSGA Tournament of Club Champions and that year was third in the NJSGA Open at Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson.
Vannucci, 26, tied for third at the NJSGA Open at the Montclair Golf Club; Kwon finished T10 there. Both will be participating in their first USGA event at Bandon Dunes.
“We’ve played together in some smaller stuff, but nothing like this. We felt we gave ourselves a lot of good chances. We were always in the hole,” Vannucci said.
“In an event like this, you have to keep the pedal down. Don’t force the issue, but stay positive,” he said.
“It was pretty soft out there, so it gave us good looks,” said Kwon, 24. “We missed the first two greens and settled for pars, then we birdied five of the next six holes.”
Ethan and Jeremy Wall drove back home to Brielle after their morning round, not expecting to claim a berth into the U.S. Four-Ball. But they monitored the results on NJSGA.org and decided to return to Green Brook in case of a playoff at 64 for the final spot, only to find out that they had made it to Bandon Dunes.
“We thought there were several groups that could jump ahead of us. Now, we’re going to have a great family trip to Bandon Dunes. My father (George) and older brother (Augie) were out there last fall and had a great time.”
Ethan, 23, and Jeremy, 22, were teammates the past three years at Loyola University Maryland. Both were All-Patriot League selections this spring. On Oct. 1, they will both join the family business – the George Wall Ford Lincoln auto dealership in Red Bank.
For Jeremy, it will be his sixth appearance in a USGA event, having participated in three U.S. Amateurs and two U.S. Juniors. For Ethan, it will be his first USGA event. “I must have been an alternate 10 times in the past 10 years,” said Ethan, whose round included five birdies on Tuesday.
“Now we all have something to look forward to this spring,” Jeremy Wall said.