The lucky 16 who will represent Team USA in Ireland
Every golfer has wondered, at one time or another, what they would do with a big prize on the line. Let’s say you have to two-putt from 10-feet to win The U.S. Open. Or even closer to home for many competitive amateurs, win the final match of the U.S. Mid-Amateur for a virtually guaranteed invitation to The Masters.
At the U.S. Golf Challenge -- which wrapped up this week in Nashville -- a diverse group of amateur golfers got to feel the adrenaline rush of playing for a big prize.
A field of over 50 two-person teams from around the country -- divided into divisions by handicap -- got a chance to compete for 8 team spots at the 2022 King’s Cup in Ireland.
And get this. The trip to one of golf’s meccas is all expenses paid. Now that’s pressure.
I got to experience it firsthand and had a blast despite my team’s bid coming up short in the senior championship division. I met some really interesting people, enjoyed two wonderful courses at The Hermitage Golf Club in Nashville, and learned why it’s called “Music City.” (Live music by talented musicians is everywhere - not just downtown.)
I was pleased that two of the four or five teams representing AmateurGolf.com at the "Nationals" will be on Team USA next year in Ireland.
In the Championship division, Scott Pitts and Tim Lovell of Georgia took a one-stroke lead to the 18th tee of Wednesday's final round. They were paired with their closest pursuers, a couple of long-ball-hitting Texans named Chase Chapman and Jeff Williams. The Texans gave it their best "Arnie charge" by both driving the 320-yard green. But it's a huge, undulating monster of a surface that gives the short hole teeth. And the hole was tucked on a shelf in the upper right corner. When neither of the Texans could convert their birdies, it was left to Scott Pitts to two-putt for the win, and trip to Ireland.
Pitts and Lovell posted rounds of 72 and 69 in the final round, a day where both balls count. The duo punched their ticket to the Nationals by winning the AmateurGolf.com Two Man Links Championship
at Bandon Dunes in April.
The Senior Championship didn't come down to the wire, but that's mostly because the winners -- another AmateurGolf.com team named Randall Conn and Johan Andersson -- played nearly flawless golf over the three rounds of the tournament. They opened with a 7-under 65, shot an impressive 71 in the alternate shot second round, and closed with a 2-over 146 in the aggregate final round. Their score of 6-under was six-shots clear of the Colorado team of Andrew Titterton and Carl Ellis.
The C division had the most drama. As players hovered around the scoring table to see where they stood, it was determined that a playoff would be required to decide which team would head for the Emerald Isles. The format? The scary "count-both" aggregate that was used in the final round. Kyle Steeling and Ryan Stuckenberg of Cincinnati punched their tickets with a long two-putt (and remember this is the green where so many players three-putted), and clutch five-foot par putt to edge out Jill Kostick and David Conyers of Indiana.
A putt to win a trip to Ireland? That's the stuff that amateur golf dreams are made of.
Congratulations to all eight teams that qualified to be part of Team USA against Ireland next year. If you want to learn more about the competition so you can register for a qualifier next year, visit USGolfChallenge.com
Scott Pitts & Tim Lovell -- Georgia
Tom Ernster & Jon Nugent -- Illinois, Wisconsin
Tommy Solitario & Daniel DeChirico -- New Jersey
Kyle Seeling & Ryan Stuckenberg -- Ohio
Randall Conn & Johan Andersson -- Texas
Mike White & William Orne -- Wisconsin
Jeff Orzel & Kevin Moreno -- Michigan
Phil Smith & Andy Kieffer -- IllinoisView results for USGC King's Cup National Championship
ABOUT THE USGC King's Cup National Championship
This is the U.S. final qualifier for the International King's Cup
following spring. Two-man teams will compete
three different formats, and the successful
will represent Team USA in the King's Cup in
is a best-ball, round 2 is alternate shot, and
is aggregate stroke play.
There are two divisions – Open Division and
Division. Open Division is open to all ages.
Division is for Players 55 years of age and
Player that is 55+ is allowed to compete in the
division, but a player that is under 55 is not
to compete in the Senior division. There are
flights in each Division determined by Team
View Complete Tournament Information