VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Clark Collier and Kyle Hudelson were among the last sides into the field for the 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, and now they might be the last team standing.
The two Oklahoma City natives got into the field a week ago as alternates, and they’ve made the most of their opportunity. Collier and Hudelson won a pair of nail-biting matches Tuesday on the par-70, 7,161-yard Course No. 2, including a 1-up quarterfinal decision over 2015 champions Nathan Smith of Brookville and Todd White.
They join Patrick Christovich, 38, of New Orleans, La., and 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Garrett Rank, 29, of Canada; 17-year-olds Shuai Ming (Ben) Wong, of Hong Kong China, and Frankie Capan, of North Oaks, Minn.; and Floridians Chip Brooke, 41, of Bartow, and 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Marc Dull, 31, of Winter Haven, in Wednesday morning’s semifinals, which begin at 7 a.m.
The two semifinal winners will square off in the 18-hole championship match at approximately 1 p.m.
Against White and Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, Collier and Hudelson again faced a tall task. Thriving in their underdog role, they held off the two experienced USGA competitors, thanks to some clutch shot-making.
Two up with four to play, Collier missed a 3-foot par putt on the par-3 15th to see the side’s lead trimmed in half. They settled down over the final three holes, with Collier hitting a clutch approach on the green from the native area on No. 18 to free up Hudelson’s second shot from the fairway. He, too, found the putting surface, and when Smith, who was in the left-greenside bunker, and White, who was just off the front of the green, failed to birdie, Hudelson nestled his birdie attempt to within concession range.
“Those guys are legends,” said Collier of Smith and White, who were teammates on the victorious 2013 USA Walker Cup Team. “What a class act. They’re truly an example for the game.”
Added Hudelson: “Nathan Smith, it’s just an honor to play with him. I mean how many [USGA] matches has he played?
“[Before the week started], we said we had already won and had nothing to lose. I mean everything was against us. Beating a great team and us being a dark horse, it was great.”
Next up is a semifinal match against 2016 semifinalists Christovich and Rank, a three-time Canadian Mid-Amateur champion who just finished his first full season as a National Hockey League referee.
In Tuesday morning’s second round, Smith and White beat Patrick Flavin and Brian Ohr, 3-and-1.
Monday, Smith and White needed some late heroics to beat Andrew Medley and Ken Tanigawa. Smith converted a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to help the side earn a hard-fought 1-up victory, a match that saw Tanigawa hole out a shot from the fairway on No. 3 for an eagle-2.
Two rounds of stroke-play qualifying Saturday and Sunday had Smith and White shooting a 5-under-par 136 to earn the No. 9 seed in the 32-team match play bracket.
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are for amateurs. The championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play – one round each on Course No. 2 and Course No. 8 – followed by five rounds of match play over a three-day period.