Medalists Maverick McNealy and Viraat Badhwar (Photo by Darren Carroll/USGA)
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Maverick McNealy and Viraat Badhwar will be difficult to beat in the match play portion of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. The Stanford teammates, both sophomores, claimed medalist honors at the tournament's inaugural event, posting 10-under par 130, including a stellar 66 on Sunday at the Lake Course.
Both are fresh off a Pac-12 Championship win in Pullman, Wash. where McNealy set multiple school and conference records. But this weekend, they were back in the Bay Area playing The Olympic Club as a team in best-ball format.
"I think we've both seen our golf games way too much," Badhwar said after Saturday's round. "We practice together. We do putting competitions together and off the golf course we have the same classes and the same set of friends and we are the same year in school. We understand each other’s games and how to help each other and when to pick each other up."
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The pair led after round one, carding 64 on the Ocean Course despite an opening-hole bogey. McNealy, of Portola Valley, Calif. rolled in birdie putts on 3 and 4 while Badhwar, an Australian originally born in India, knocked in a bird on 5 to get the Stanford pair rolling. They capped off the round with birdies on 17 and 18, including a bunker hole-out from the recent Pac-12 individual medalist.
Sunday's round got off to a sluggish start, in four-ball standards, at least. Pars were made on the first nine holes before the Cardinal teammates picked up the pace on the tough back nine of the Lake Course. The first birdie of the day came at the par-four 10th, followed by another at 12, which was offset by a bogey at 14. But the two came down the stretch with ferocity, cashing in on three straight birdies to close out the round and grab the top-seed by two shots.
"Every time you look at a list of champions you always fall on the first one first," said McNealy of winning the medal. "To have our names on top would be awesome. There's always a first for everything and it's cool to be part of the first one."
The No. 2 seed will go to top-ranked junior golfers Sam Burns of Shreveport, La. and Austin Connelly of Canada, who carded back-to-back 66s. The future SEC rivals held the clubhouse lead briefly before McNealy and Badhwar began their back-nine birdie barrage.
Burns, the 2014 Junior PGA winner, will attend LSU this fall while Connelly, a dual citizen of both Canada and the United States and reigning Jones Cup champion, is headed to Arkansas.
Another team that held possession of the top-seed at the conclusion of their round were former USC teammates Jordan Nasser and Taylor Wood. The Southern California mid-amateurs posted the lowest score of Saturday's Lake Course rounds, a 65, before shooting 68 at the easier Ocean Course on Sunday.
Prevailing winds picked up on Sunday, causing scores to creep up by about half a stroke. The cut fell at one-under par, with eight teams finishing in a tie for 30th place at 139. Those eight teams will tee off on the Ocean Course Monday morning at 7 a.m. to determine the remaining three spots for the match play bracket.
At 9 a.m. on the Lake Course, match play will begin, with the semifinal and final matches taking place Wednesday, May 6.
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ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur Four-Ball
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, the newest USGA
championship, was played for the first time in
2015 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif.
The event, which has no age restriction, is open
to those with a Handicap Index of 5.4 or lower.
It is one of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly
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