Evan Quinn (L) and Justin Chae
WAYNE, NJ (August 11, 2016) -- Evan Quinn and Justin Chae of New Jersey National turned up the heat on the final stretch of holes on one of the hottest days of the year and won the 84th NJSGA Four-Ball Championship on Thursday, August 11, at 6,521-yard North Jersey Country Club in Wayne.
Quinn and Chae, a pair of incoming college freshmen and the youngest team in the final 16, birdied each of the three final holes to defeat the talented team of 19-year-old Ambrose Abbraciamento of High Bridge Hills and 21-year-old Charles Cai of Mercer Oaks, 2 and 1.
The temperature for the day was in the high 90s with a heat index of 102 degrees.
“We never knew how stressful this match-play format would be,” said Chae, an incoming freshman at Duke University and recent graduate of Pingry School. “We found a way to keep building momentum. Every time we were down, we’d find some resolve.”
“It was a long day yesterday when we won two matches and really grinded it out. There’s a lot of room for error out there. You can lose focus, get hot and tired. But nobody faltered. We kept picking each other up,” said Quinn, who will play golf at Princeton.
“We’ve played together so long. We know each other’s games just as well as the other person. We each play shots very similarly. We try to keep up the same pace and feed off each other,” Quinn said.
Cai and Ambbracciamento got a big break when they won the par-3 No. 13 hole with a par from Cai, whose chip from 20 feet made it to the lip of the hole for the tap-in par.
After the teams halved the par-four No. 14, Chae’s tee shot on the 160-yard par-three No. 15 landed four feet from the hole. His birdie there evened the match.
On the par-four No. 16, Quinn hit an 8-iron approach from 152 yards that ended four feet from the cup. He calmly drained the putt for a birdie to put his team 1-up
On the final hole, the 526-yard par-five No. 17, Chae drove over the dangerous creek crossing the fairway and put his second shot just short of the green, on the short grass 50 feet from the pin. He decided to putt from there and ended two-and-a-half feet from the cup. His birdie putt fell to end the match.
“I had to go over about five huge slopes to get that putt to the hole,” Chae said.
For Cai and Abbraciamento, the loss was a tough one, considering the difficult morning victory that took five hours.
“They made three birdies at the end. That was the difference,” said Cai, who begins a job in economics this fall in Arlington, Va. “We wanted t keep doing what we were doing in the other matches, putting two balls in the fairway and getting two good looks at birdies.”
The finals match shaped up as one featuring the two youngest pairings among the 16 teams that advanced to the match-play bracket.
Chae, 18, and Quinn, 18, had the most difficult route to the finals, needing 20 holes to subdue Dan O’Rourke and John Havay of High Bridge Hills.
The other finalist team comprised Abbracciamento, of Old York and Cai, of Mercer Oaks. They defeated Ryan Chin and Mike O’Connell of Arcola, 2 up.
O’Rourke and Havay had earned a two-up lead with three holes remaining before Che and Quinn won No. 16 with a par. But Chae, who will attend Duke University, birdied No. 17 with a 25-foot putt to square the match.
While Chae drained a 16-foot birdie putt on 18, Havay equaled him with a 12-foot birdie to send the match to extra holes. It finally ended when Quinn, headed for Princeton, put a seven iron from 133 yards to seven feet and sank the birdie putt.
“We were running out of holes when we were down two. We thought it couldn’t get any tougher. We knew we needed to finish string with birdies,” said Chae, NJSGA Boys’ champion in 2012.
“Our strategy is Evan tees off first on all the holes except the par three and if he puts it in the fairway, then I give it a poke,” said Chae, who lives in Summit. “On the par threes, I hit first so there’s no pressure on Evan and he hopefully gets it close.”
Morristown resident Quinn said: “We want to give ourselves a chance coming into the final four holes because we know we can finish fast as we’ve been doing in this tournament.”
O’Connell and Chin evened the match on No. 15 with a birdie, but the pair bogeyed No. 16 as Abbracciamento and Cai took a 1-up lead. The teams halved No. 17, but Abbracciamento and Cai closed out the match with a birdie on No. 18.
“We didn’t have a great front, but we were always in there. We were behind one hole and we got a birdie to get to even on the next hole,” Cai said of his birdie on No. 8 after Chin and O’Connell had birdied both Nos. 6 and 7.
“We hung in there and made a couple of putts on the back. We want to have two looks at every hole and be in position for birdies. If not, well get up and down,” said Cai, a West Windsor resident and recent Dartmouth graduate.
“The pin placements were a little harder today. If I can make a few more putts this afternoon, we’ll have a great chance to win.
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