The 8th Annual U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Kiawah Wraps Up with Two Junior Golfers Taking the Title
Kiawah Island is renowned for having some of the best courses in the country. Hosting the USGA’s 8th Annual U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on the Island’s River and Cassique Courses was a natural fit for the prestigious event. Excitement grew as Member events began at the Cassique Clubhouse on May 15 and continued throughout the week leading up to the tournament the following weekend.
The River and Cassique courses were buzzing with birdies and first tees along the fairways as players from 39 states and six countries began practice rounds. Speculation rose as to who would take home the title as they competed within the four-ball format in a 36-hole stroke play qualifier. Would 2022’s runners-up, Drew Kittleson and Drew Stolz, take home the glory or would newcomers make their mark during the event’s eighth year?
The event, which began on May 17, experienced windy conditions during its four-day stretch, with each golfer undergoing highs and lows. Some players commented on the difficulty of Cassique’s dogleg-right hole 17, a challenge for the most seasoned golfers, and others remarked on the “unbelievable” host facility and “great experience.” Whatever the sentiment, each player was, as Members, residents and returning guests are, enamored by the Island’s stunning courses and coastal environment. But, as the Island’s most seasoned players know – one can’t be fooled by the beautiful views, especially on those blustery spring days. Those holes often require more pars than one might think.
Victories and Setbacks
One of the youngest players, 16-year-old Peyton Blackard from Indiana, landed a hole-in-one the first day of the tournament at the River Course. Maryland residents Kevin Grady and Andrew Sovero completed a 10-under-par round of 61.
Kittleson and Stolz, making it to the quarterfinal match, had to stop their streak as 1-up lead after 17 holes, the day before the tournament’s end on May 24, because of darkness and winds gusting up to 20 mph.
Then, two junior golfers, just coming off of the sting of barely missing the opportunity to qualify for an upcoming NCAA Division Championship, shook off that loss and embraced, what Dylan Thew, Kiawah Island Club’s Director of Golf, called “the magic our island so graciously provides.”
And, The Winners Are…
Two 21-year-old seniors, hailing from the University of California-Berkeley, scooped up the win and were the first No. 1 seeds to claim the championship. Aaron Du and Sampson Zheng, the only male golfers from the People’s Republic of China, added this win to their burgeoning roster. In an interview with USGA’s David Shefter, Zheng said, “. . .100 years later when this tournament continues on, our names are going to be on [that trophy],” and Zheng added he hoped that “this can inspire junior golfers in China to do the same in the future.”
The champions left Kiawah with lasting memories, a gold medal, custody of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Trophy for one year, exceptions into the next 10 championships, exemption into the 2023 U.S. Amateur Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club, and their names engraved on a USGA plaque that will reside in the USGA Museum’s Hall of Champions.
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball has become one of the USGA’s most popular events, bringing in nearly 2,500 entries every year since it began in 2015 in California. Since then, the event has been hosted at course locations throughout the country, including: New York, North Carolina, Florida, Oregon, Washington, Alabama, and in 2023, South Carolina’s Kiawah Island Club courses.
The Kiawah Golf Life
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