Zychowski Brothers; Campana & Macdonald claim top seeds in Four-Ball
BLOOMFIELD, NEW JERSEY - The team of brothers Brian and Steven Zychowski of Mendham and the tandem of Kevin Campana of Ash Brook and Ryan Macdonald of NJSGA E-Club both fired an eight-under par 63 to share medalist honors in the stroke play qualifying round for the 87th NJSGA Four-Ball Championship earlier today at the par-71, 6,517-yard Forest Hill Field Club in Bloomfield.
16 teams qualified for the match-play round of the Four-Ball Championship that begins Tuesday morning which will be followed by the quarterfinals in the afternoon. The semifinals and championship matches will take place on Wednesday, May 8.
Mike O’Connell and Xavier Dailly of Arcola Country Club claimed the third seed with a 66, while Forest Hill’s team of Chad Johnson and Frank Almasy were among four teams that shot four-under-par 67 to earn a spot in match-play.
“We were attacking pins early, but were couldn’t get anything to drop,” said Steve Zychowski, the NJSGA Tournament of Club Champions winner in 2015. He qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur last summer.
Two weeks ago, Zychowskis shared medalist honors in qualifying with the duo of Jim Dufficy and Mike Paduano of Eagle Oaks Golf Club at Knob Hill Golf Club in Manalapan. Dufficy and Paduano qualified on Monday with a 69.
After playing one-under-par on their first four holes on the back nine, the Zychowskis (who started on the 10th tee) put together a string of seven straight birdies from holes 14 through 18, and holes 1 and 2 on the front side. Steve Zychowski notched five of those seven birdies.
“We both putted well in that stretch,” said Brian Zychowski, 30, who works in finance in New York.
“Steve was dialed in with his wedge. The funny thing was we didn’t birdie the two par fives on the front side – and both times, we had makeable putts.”
Among the highlights in that stretch was Steve’s 60-yard wedge into the par-4 No. 15 that ended a foot from the hole, and Brian’s 25-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 No. 16.
“We weren’t able to practice here, and the last time I played at Forest Hill was about five years ago. On top of that, Brian has never played here,” said Steve, a resident of Summit who also works in finance. “For us, Brian was hitting it well off the tee and that allowed me to rip it. I like the concept of match play. It’s more like playing a team sport.”
Campana and Macdonald, who qualified for match-play last year, were teammates on the Rutgers University golf team, graduating in 2001. They shared co-MVP honors their final two years there.
Like the Zychowskis, they also had a run of birdies. Starting at three-under-par on the back nine, they reeled off birdies on Holes 1 through 4. Campana began the run with a birdie on the par-4 No. 1, then Macdonald got three in a row – including the back-to-back par fives – holes 3 and 4.
“We were both in on every hole and we didn’t have any stressful holes,” said Campana, 39, who lives in Kendall Park. “The other key was that we didn’t birdie any of the same holes.”
“We didn’t miss any putts under 10 feet, so that helped,” said Macdonald, 39, a resident of Manasquan who works in software sales.
In addition to the co-medalist teams finishing with matching scores, they also have something in common – the Zychowski’s father (also named Brian) is the superintendent of schools in North Brunswick - where Campana is a teacher.
Forest Hill’s Almasy felt the soft conditions from Sunday’s abundant rains accounted for the low scores.
“The course was gettable. The conditions were soft and guys were able to aim at the pin. The greens were rolling fair and flat with not a lot of break. It should be a lot different tomorrow when the greens dry up,” Almasy said.
Live scoring will continue throughout the championship at www.njsga.org.