MORRISTOWN, N.J. Niall Handley of High Bridge Hills knows how to pick a partner. On the strength of five birdies from partner Brian Komline, the team captured the 76th Four Ball Championship today at Spring Brook Country Club over defending champions Gregg Angelillo and Michael Deo of Montclair Golf Club, 2&1.
The final match featured some of New Jersey’s strongest amateur golfers. Komline, a two-time State Open champion, has been on a tear this summer. Two weeks ago, he won the NJSGA Men’s Public Links Championship with a two-round total of seven under par, and last month he finished in a tie for seventh at the State Open at Alpine. Deo is a Mid-Amateur champion, four-time runner-up at the State Amateur, and two-time Four Ball champion.
The match began uneventfully, with pars halving the first four holes. Komline drew first blood with a birdie on the fifth hole, curling in a downhill putt on this medium-length par 4. Another Komline birdie quickly followed on the next hole, a par 5 where Angelillo and Deo experienced tree problems, and suddenly Handley and Komline were 2-up in the match.
This is where the match remained until the tenth hole, the shortest of three successive par-3s at Spring Brook. Komline left his 7-iron approach about 15 feet below the hole and managed to drain the uphill putt, exhibiting a stroke that is smooth under pressure, allowing him to make putts when he needs them. Angelillo and Deo bounced right back, however. On the 210 yard par-3 11th hole, Deo hit a long iron to five feet and made the birdie putt to return the match to 2-up in favor of Handley and Komline.
Easy come, easy go. On the next, a short dogleg left par-4, Komline again converted his approach shot of 8 feet into birdie. Back to 3-up, with holes running out on Angelillo and Deo.
The turning point in the match came at the next hole, Spring Brook’s #1 handicap hole, the 445-yard, uphill par-4 thirteenth. With Handley and Komline off the green, Angelillo stuck his approach shot to four feet. Needing a birdie desperately to get back in the match, Angelillo missed the testy, downhill putt and the hole was halved with pars.
One of several missed opportunities for the Angelillo/Deo team, their performance was affected by less than sharp iron approaches and missed putts. Trying to hang on in the face of depleting holes, Deo made birdie on the 15th and returned the match to 2-up. But on the 17th, a short par-5 under 500 yards, Handley and Komline easily reached the green in two and had eagle putts within twelve feet. With Komline’s lag putt, resulting in his fifth birdie of the day, the match ended 2&1 for Handley and Komline.
This was Handley’s and Komine’s first time playing together in the Four Ball Championship. College buddies, the two played together at Fairleigh Dickinson in the mid-1990s on golf scholarships. While Handley did not bring his A-game to the Four Ball, his steady diet of pars allowed his partner to take runs at birdie putts. “Niall made a lot of pars out there today, which allowed me to charge most of my birdie putts. And you know that against players like Angelillo and Deo you’ll have to make birdies,” said Komline.
En route to their victory, the Handley/Komline team defeated Kozubal/Price, Walsh/Kramer, Harnisch/Boyle and VanHyning/Mensel. Angelillo/Deo bested Dornich/Ware, Boyd/Richter, Cerven/Hurley and Grant/Davide. For the full match play bracket, click on Championships, 2008 Results.
Spring Brook, set up to play approximately 6,700 yards, is not a long course but is defended well by its greens. With a provenance that is about to be changed from Robert Hucknell to Walter Travis, in which Travis will be recognized as the original designer of the golf course in 1921, Spring Brook’s greens are generally small with many subtle breaks off of ridges and crowns. The NJSGA will return to Spring Brook in 2010 for the State Open Championship.