Photo (l-r): Michael Brown, Peter Barron, Kevin Grady, Andrew Sovero

Andrew Sovero of Catonsville, Md., and Kevin Grady of Ellicott City, Md., combined for an eight-under-par 63 to garner medalist honors in the Sectional Qualifying Round of the 2020 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at the par 71, 6919 yard Galloway National Golf Club in Galloway.

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Peter Barron, III, of Mays Landing and Michael Brown of Maple Shade, who have each enjoyed success in the NJSGA Mid-Amateur Championship, combined to shoot a seven-under-par 64, including four-under-par on their back nine, to claim the second qualifying position and advance to their second consecutive U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

Both teams will compete in the 2020 U.S. Four-Ball Championship set for the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Philadelphia, next May 23-27.

The team of Mark Benevento, Jr., of Northfield and partner Drue Nicholas of Egg Harbor Township won a playoff to capture the first alternate position, while the tandem of Zach Arsenault of Merchantville, N.J., and partner Ryan McCarty of West Palm Beach, Fla., a former resident of Voorhees, N.J. were second alternates.

Barron won the 2017 NJSGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Trump National Golf Club in Colts Neck. Brown was runner-up to Trevor Randolph of Arcola in the 2018 Mid-Amateur Championship at The Bedens Brook Club.

In addition, Barron, 43, who plays out of Galloway National, has won the Golf Association of Philadelphia Mid-Amateur as well as the Delaware Open and Delaware Amateur. Brown, who calls Darlington his home course, won the 2018 Golf Association of Philadelphia Patterson Cup, as well as the 2010 Philadelphia Open. Last year, the pair played in the qualifier at Garden City Country Club in New York and punched a ticket to the U.S. Four-Ball Championship at Bandon Dunes in Oregon.

It was Brown’s 40-yard chip-in on the par-5 No. 9 hole that jump-started the duo on Wednesday and got them to three-under-par. After that, Brown, 46, birdied the par-5, No. 11, and the par-4, No. 12, and Barron followed him with birdies on the par-4, No. 13, and the par-3, No. 15.

“We really didn’t have anything going until Mike’s eagle on No. 9,” said Barron. “We really weren’t making anything. After that, things started going well for us.”

Said Brown: ‘The key was keeping two balls in play and two balls in the fairway. This place is about keeping the ball between the tree lines.”

Brown has already played in nine USGA championships, including four U.S. Mid-Amateurs, two U.S. Amateurs, two U.S. Public Links and one U.S. Four-Ball. Barron has played in three U.S. Mid-Amateurs and one U.S. Four-Ball.

The two are familiar with Philadelphia Cricket Club, having placed fourth in this year’s Pennsylvania Golf Association Four-Ball Championship there.

 “It’s about the greens, which are tricky and fast and firm. Off the tee, it’s difficult to pick a target,” Barron said of Philadelphia Cricket. “It’s a big course and you can’t fake it out there. You have to hit the right shots out there,” Brown noted.

For Grady, 31 and Sovero, 24, the upcoming U.S. Four-Ball Championship will mark their first USGA event.

“There was a qualifier just 25 minutes from where we live (Argyle C.C. in Silver Spring, Md.), but we wanted to come here because we felt our games were ready for the hardest course we could find,” said Grady, who played golf at the University of South Carolina at Aiken. “I’m very excited about the U.S. Four-Ball next year. We both played really solid and hit it in close on three holes for birdies.”

Sovero earned a swimming scholarship to the University of Arizona where we qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the breaststroke four years ago.

“I’ve always loved golf. Now, I have more time for golf and my game is coming around,” he stated.

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