Zach Foushee and Robbie Ziegler set 36-hole scoring record at U.S. Four-Ball
Zach Foushee (left) and Robbie Ziegler (USGA Photo)
Zach Foushee (left) and Robbie Ziegler (USGA Photo)

Oregonians Zach Foushee and Robbie Ziegler continued their torrid play on Sunday at the 9th U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Philadelphia Cricket Club, backing up their first-round 62 with a 6-under 64 to tie the 36-hole scoring record en route to earning medalist honors.

Their two-round total of 16-under 126 matched the totals shot in 2016 by Brandon Matthews and Patrick Ross at Winged Foot Golf Club, and year ago at Kiawah Island Club both by teenagers Carter Loflin and Wells Williams as well as eventual champions Aaron Du and Sampson Zheng.

The two ex-University of Oregon standouts and longtime friends began the championship on the 7,204-yard, par-72 Militia Hill Course, the stroke-play co-host venue, before moving over to the 7,013-yard, par-70 Wissahickon Course, a classic A.W. Tillinghast design that opened in 1922.

Foushee, 29, of Lake Oswego, and Ziegler, 33, of Tualitan, finished two strokes better than first-round co-leaders and Indiana residents Kenny Cook, 44, of Noblesville, and Sean Rowen, 50, of Greenwood, and ex-Middle Tennessee State teammates Payne Denman, 32, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Brett Patterson, 32, of Oxford, Miss.

Cook, the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up, and Rowen backed up their 62 with a 66 on Wissahickon, while Denman, the assistant men’s golf coach at Middle Tennessee State, and Patterson, a full-time accounting professor at the University of Mississippi who reached the 2023 U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinals, shook off a slow start to post a 66 on Militia Hill after a 62 on Saturday.

Jack Cantlay, 20, of Los Alamitos, Calif., the younger brother of eight-time PGA Tour winner Patrick Cantlay, and his Long Beach State teammate, Jaden Huggins, 20, of Murrieta, Calif., posted a 63 at Wissahickon to finish at 13-under 129.

The cut for match play came at 7-under 135 with 11 sides playing off on Monday morning at Wissahickon for the final six spots in the 32-team draw.

For a second consecutive day, the competitors were greeted with chamber-of-commerce weather and idyllic scoring conditions, with virtually no wind and temperatures in the 80s.

Foushee (pronounced FOO-SHAY), a real estate agent who was on Oregon’s 2016 NCAA title team, and Ziegler, a marketing representative for adidas Golf who oversees NIL deals for college and amateur players, had a chance at the 36-hole scoring mark after consecutive birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, but they registered five consecutive pars coming home.

“We came in just hoping to make match play, honestly,” said Foushee, who briefly played on PGA Tour Canada before regaining his amateur status five years ago. “We played the last couple of weeks out in Oregon, and it wasn’t our best, but we came in, practiced, got a couple of good range sessions in and we both hit the ball really nicely. We gave ourselves two good looks on most of the holes out there, and when we didn’t, the other person picked it up.”

Both Rowen and Cook, competing in their sixth U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, found the greens to be much firmer and more challenging than on Saturday. Of course, they were playing the older, more-established layout that will be the site for the matches going forward.

“It’s demanding,” said Cook of the Wissahickon layout. “You have to hit some really good shots to get it close.”

Cantlay and Huggins are hoping for the same karma that last year’s champions enjoyed: barely miss qualifying for NCAAs as a team and then win the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball a week later.

Du and Zheng saw their University of California squad fall three strokes shy of a berth in 2023. They channeled the disappointment into a USGA title.

Cantlay, Huggins and Long Beach State were even closer, missing by two strokes at the recent NCAA Chapel Hill (N.C.) Regional.

But they came into the championship in postseason form, as their 63 on Sunday illustrated. On the 546-yard, par-5 12th, Cantlay delivered one of the side’s best moments of the weekend, cutting a 3-iron from 245 yards to 15 feet to set up an eagle. Huggins would add a birdie on No. 17.

“[Jack] was saying we haven’t really made an eagle in qualifying or in yesterday’s round,” said Huggins, “and he goes, ‘Let’s just make an eagle.’ And then he goes and makes an eagle. Spoke it into existence.” 

Denman and Patterson, who just recently obtained his Ph.D. in accounting at Ole Miss, seemed comfortably inside the cutline as the day began. But as they approached the ninth tee on Sunday, the duo was only even par for the day at Militia Hill and hugging close to the mark. Denman provided some relief by stuffing his tee shot on the 244-yard, par-3 to eight feet to set up a birdie. He would add a 9-footer on No. 10, leading a stretch of 6-under golf over the final 10 holes and nowhere near the cut.

“I think we were kind of dragging a little bit,” said Denman. “We were even par through eight and we both missed like 3-footers on four [after a birdie on 3]. It was a little bit of a wake-up call. We were kind of checking in with each other, making sure we were all right. We had to stay patient. Sure enough, we did.”

The round of the championship belonged to a pair of Furman University teammates, Trey Diehl, 20, of Orlando, Fla., and Mac Scott, 22, of Birmingham, Ala., who finished with three consecutive birdies on Wissahickon to match the 18-hole scoring mark of 61. Their day included a second-nine 29. A 61 had been posted on four other occasions, including last year by the medalists and eventual champions Du/Zheng.

Coupled with the 3-under 69 shot at Militia Hill, the side posted 12-under 130, to share fifth with 29-year-old Coloradoans Jimmy Makloski, of Pueblo, and Colin Prater, of Colorado Springs, and 16-year-old North Carolina rising high school juniors Daniel McBrien, of Holly Springs, and Smith Summerlin, of Raleigh.

Makloski just completed his third season as the assistant men’s golf coach at the United States Air Force Academy, and Prater, a science teacher at Doherty High in Colorado Springs, also coaches golf at the school. Last summer, Prater advanced to match play in the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club en route to earning Colorado Golf Association Player of the Year honors for a second time. 

Diehl, a rising junior, and Scott, who just finished his senior season, took advantage of their length, which put a lot of shorter clubs in their hands for approach shots.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Scott of matching the record. “It was a lot of fun. Some putts fell, and yesterday we didn’t play too great, so it was kind of nice to see some putts fall once we got some momentum going. We were just feeding off each other.”

What’s next

The playoff for the final six spots in the draw will take place at 6:45 a.m. EDT starting at the 11th hole. The Round of 32 is scheduled to commence at 7:30 a.m. The Round of 16 and quarterfinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the semifinals and 18-hole championship match on Wednesday.

Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend. All parking is at Chestnut Hill College with free shuttle service to Philadelphia Cricket Club.

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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 for amateurs.

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