Fred Biondi (USGA photo)
Since 1979, only five medalists at the U.S. Amateur have gone on to hoist the Havemeyer Trophy, the last being Ryan Moore in 2004 at Winged Foot Golf Club. Tiger Woods (1996) and Phil Mickelson (1990) are on the list, as are Sam Randolph (1985) and Scott Verplank (1984).
The odds of accomplishing this rare feat that has not occurred in 18 years rose fourfold on Tuesday, as Fred Biondi
, Luke Gutschewski
, Hugo Townsend
and Michael Thorbjornsen
deftly maneuvered through the Ridgewood and Arcola Country Club layouts in Paramus, NJ at 3-under 138, giving the championship four co-medalists for the first time in its history.
To better understand how tough scoring conditions have been at Ridgewood and Arcola over the last two days, consider the fact only eight players finished under par for 36 holes and half of those earned co-medalist honors at 3-under-par 138.
The cutline came at 5-over -- two strokes higher than last year at Oakmont Country Club and stroke play co-host the Longue Vue Club -- leaving 15 players to battle for the final 11 spots in the match play field on Wednesday morning.
Included in the group of 15 is Mark Costanza
, a Morristown resident who is the only player from the Garden State still alive in the championship. The 2021 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-5 ninth at Arcola, his last of the day, to post 5-over 146.
Biondi, a senior at the University of Florida who hails from São Paulo, Brazil, turned in his second consecutive round of 69 - this time at Ridgewood -- to gain a share of medalist honors. Starting on hole No. 9, Biondi jumpstarted his round with three consecutive birdies starting on No. 13, and added another birdie on the par-5 fifth. A bogey on the par-5 fifth left him with a 2-under round of 69.
Gutschewski, the son of two-time Korn Ferry winner and PGA Tour veteran Scott Gutschewski, backed up his 3-under round Monday at Ridgewood with an even par 70 Tuesday at Arcola. The Iowa State sophomore made a strong bid for solo medalist after a birdie on the 238-yard second hole, his 11th of the day, but bogeys on 4 and 9 left him even for the day.
“It feels good,” said Gutschewski, who failed to qualify for match play in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur. “Obviously you can't win if you don't make match play, right? It's just another step along the way.”
Carrying his own bag, Townsend made an eagle on the par-5 ninth at Arcola on his way to a 3-under 67 at the co-host club.
Michael Thorbjornsen (USGA photo)
“I was just happy to be out early,” said Townsend, who was born in the Republic of Ireland but resides in Sweden. “I played [Ridgewood in the] afternoon yesterday, and the greens were getting baked, the wind was picking up. I mean, the courses are tough, the rough is thick. I felt like if I could keep some balls in the fairway this morning, I could take advantage of the first 12 holes with a little softer greens, and maybe a little more true roll to the ball.”
Thorbjornsen, a strong pre-tournament favorite who won the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club in nearby Springfield, looked for all intents and purposes he was headed to solo medalist honors, but a double bogey six on the final hole at Arcola left the Stanford junior with an even par round of 70, dropping him from 5-under to 3-under for the tournament.
“It doesn't really matter,” said Thorbjornsen about being a co-medalist versus solo medalist. “Kind of just more disappointed in myself for just doubling the last hole, whether it's for nothing or to win the U.S. Amateur. I just don't like playing bad golf.”
The low round of the day belonged to current NCAA Division I men's champion Gordon Sargent of Vanderbilt, who fired a bogey-free 5-under 65 at Arcola to finish stroke play at 2-under 139.
“I think it’s a testament to just staying disciplined out there and sticking to your game plan and not trying to press," said Sargent. "I think about [going low] a little bit, but once I knew I was rolling, just not going into protect mode. I just keep trying to make birdies.”
Two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad
is onto match play despite a 4-over round of 74 on Tuesday at Arcola which left him at 2-under 139 for his two days of work.
, the top-ranked amateur in the world by Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com, survived a rocky finish that saw the Texas Tech golfer bogey three of his last four holes en route to a 4-over 74 at Arcola and a 36-hole total of 145 (+4), one stroke inside the cutline.
Some familiar names and past USGA champions failed to qualify for match play, including Caleb Surratt
and Jiri Zuska
, the two players who finished 1-2 in the Elite Amateur Series Cup race; Austin Greaser
, the Western Amateur champion and 2021 U.S. Amateur finalist; Nick Dunlap
, the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur champion; 2022 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champions Davis Womble
and Chad Wilfong
, Matt Parziale
(2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Kiko Coelho (2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball) and Garrett Barber
(2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball).
• • • • •
The playoff for the last 11 match-play spots begins Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. EDT, starting on Hole 15 at Ridgewood and continuing through No. 18, if necessary. Hole 18 will continue to be played until the spots are filled. The first Round-of-64 match is scheduled for 9 a.m. Peacock and Golf Channel will have live coverage beginning at 3 p.m. EDT.
The USGA contributed to this report.