MONTCLAIR, N.J. The 75th Four Ball Championship provided a thrilling close to the NJSGA’s major championship season today. In a hard-fought duel on Montclair Golf Club’s First and Second Nines between Gregg Angelillo/Michael Deo (Montclair) and Mark Kosko/Andrew Uthoff (Seaview), the home club team prevailed in the championship match after 21 holes. In one of the most exciting final round matches played in recent years, the team of Angelillo/Deo fought back after being 3 down through seven holes to tie the match on the 17th hole. After clutch birdie putts on 18 by Deo and Kosko, the match went to a sudden death playoff. The teams exchanged pars on the first two holes of sudden death until Deo drained a six foot birdie putt on the third extra hole to win the match.
This was a match with an exciting script: big drives, great shot making, birdie putts, and missed opportunities. After playing well through the earlier rounds and being home course favorites, no one expected Angelillo/Deo to be 3 down early in the match. But a team bogey on the 4th hole followed quickly by an Uthoff birdie on the par-3 fifth hole found Angelillo/Deo suddenly 2 down. A short eagle putt on the next would have cut the margin to 1 down, but Angelillo missed. Deflated, the team three-putted the next hole and found themselves 3 down after seven holes. Angelillo/Deo came right back on the eighth hole, when each of their iron shots on the 157-yard par-3 finished within five feet of the hole.
Play over the next few holes was steady, and the match remained at 2 up for Kosko/Uthoff. There were plenty of birdie opportunities for each team but no putts dropped until the teams exchanged birdies on the short par-4 thirteenth hole.
Then the match was turned up a notch. On the long par-3 fourteenth hole, Deo ran in a curling, downhill putt to cut the match to 1 up for Kosko/Uthoff. With par winning the next for the Montclair team, the match was finally squared. But not for long. A brilliant approach by Kosko to within three feet on the 16th secured birdie and a 1-up lead with two holes to play. Angelillo/Deo quickly returned the match to level when Angelillo made a slick birdie putt on the penultimate hole.
Going into the last all square, the gallery sensed a gripping finish to an exciting match. And they were right: Deo and Kosko each hit brilliant approach shots into the eighteenth, leaving themselves with almost identical birdie putts from behind the hole. Both made, and the match was on to extra holes!
In sudden death, Angelillo/Deo had their chances on the first two holes, but birdie putts slipped past the hole each time. Finally, on the third extra hole, Deo converted on his six-foot birdie putt while Kosko’s birdie putt slid past the high side. Victory was in the hands of the home course team.
For Mike Deo, the Four Ball Championship marks his second NJSGA major this year, having won the Mid-Amateur title in May at Eagle Oaks. This is also Deo’s second Four Ball Championship following a win with a different partner in 1999. For Angelillo, the title is a dream come true. He is very proud to have won on his home course, where he has played since he was a kid. A former assistant pro at Somerset Hills, Angelillo regained his amateur status and has been a regular competitor in NJSGA events.
Uthoff, himself a former club pro at Seaview, played steady golf throughout the championship match, while his partner Kosko showed moments of brilliance. En route to the championship match, the Seaview team bested the teams of Blake/Bosworth, Lovett/McSorley, Kunesch/Podvey and Cassese/Silvestrone, Jr. The Angelillo/Deo team beat Stephan/Zoeller, Duvier/De Yong, Dornich/Ware and Alden/Cartier on their way to the finals.
Congratulations to both championship match teams on a great duel at Montclair Golf Club! The Four Ball Championship will be played at Springbrook Country Club in Morristown next year.
Scenes from the Championship.
Photos provided by corbosport.com.