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Harvey, Mitchell continue to advance at U.S. Amateur Four-Ball
Todd Mitchell and Scott Harvey (USGA/Steve Gibbons)
Todd Mitchell and Scott Harvey (USGA/Steve Gibbons)

Scott Harvey and Todd Mitchell have managed to qualify for match play in every U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship since the competition’s inception in 2015. But after reaching the semifinals in the inaugural event four years ago, the two veteran mid-amateurs – both 40 years of age – have been stymied in their bid to return to the final day.

But they’re getting another crack at the title. Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion from Kernersville, N.C., and Mitchell, the 2008 Mid-Amateur runner-up from Bloomington, Ill., posted a pair of victories Tuesday on Bandon Dunes Golf Resort’s Old Macdonald course, leaving the side two victories away on Wednesday from hoisting the trophy.

“That’s all we can ask for right now,” said Mitchell, “is just to keep playing the way that we are.” Harvey, a property manager, and Mitchell, a former minor-league baseball player who is in the insurance business, rallied to defeat co-medalists and ex-Santa Clara University teammates Derek Ackerman and Matthew McCarty, 3 and 2, in the quarterfinals.

That came after a 2-and-1 triumph in the Round of 16 over 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball runners-up Brandon Cigna and Ben Warnquist.

Birdies on Nos. 8 and 10 turned the afternoon match around. Harvey rolled in a 12-footer on eight and Mitchell converted a 40-footer from off the green on the 10th hole. They added birdies on 13 – Mitchell converted from 8 feet – and 15 – Harvey got up and down on the par 5 for birdie from the dirt cart path – to close out the match.

Conditions changed drastically from Monday with overcast skies replaced by bright sunshine and stiffer breezes. Winds gusted to as high as 20 mph – and perhaps even higher on the holes near the Pacific Ocean – as the afternoon progressed.

“The wind blew a lot harder out there this afternoon and the greens were drying out big time,” said Harvey, a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team who also qualified for the 2017 U.S. Open. “It played extremely difficult, so we’re very pleased with how we played.”

Harvey is now the last remaining USGA champion in the field after fellow U.S. Mid-Amateur champions Matt Parziale (2017) and Stewart Hagestad (2016) lost in the quarterfinals and Round of 16, respectively.

Parziale, 31, of Brockton, Mass., and partner Herbie Aikens, 37, of Kingston, Mass., outlasted Hagestad, of Newport Beach, Calif., and his partner, Derek Busby, of Ruston, La., 1 up, in the Round of 16. The match came down to the 18th hole, with Parziale converting an 8-foot birdie to seal the win. Parziale and Aikens combined for nine birdies and a bogey, and the two sides tied just five holes.

But Parziale and Aikens couldn’t keep the momentum going in the afternoon quarterfinals, falling to co-medalists and Marlton, N.J., residents Troy Vannucci and Vince Kwon, 3 and 2. Vannucci, 27, and Kwon, 25, are the first medalists to advance to the semifinals in this championship. “Emotionally, ecstatic,” said Kwon, who caddies at Philadelphia (Pa.) Cricket Club, next year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball host site. “I didn’t know we were going to get this far. But our confidence is way up there, and hopefully we can get the job done.”

East Carolina University teammates Blake Taylor, 21, of Wilmington, N.C., and Logan Shuping, 21, of Salisbury, N.C., the latter competing in his first USGA championship, eliminated the hottest side entering the quarterfinals – Bobby Leopold, of Coventry, R.I., and his brother-in-law Tyler Cooke, of Warwick, R.I. Leopold and Cooke were a combined 12 under par through their first 27 holes of match play, with the usual concessions, but they could muster just three birdies against Taylor and Shuping, who posted a 2-up victory.

Leading 1 up on 18, Shuping stuffed his approach to 6 inches, the ball glancing ever so slightly off the flagstick.

“I’m just speechless right now,” said Shuping. “It’s been an unbelievable trip. Just to see that we’re going to [the semifinals]. It was such a close match the whole round, and just to come down and see it, you know, 6 inches from the flag and know that we’re going to be playing on the last day tomorrow in a USGA event is something special.”

The other quarterfinal saw Taylor Wood, 35, of Coto de Caza, Calif., and Andrew Medley, 39, of Scottsdale, Ariz., defeat Floridians Devon Hopkins and Matt Kleinrock, 2 and 1.

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 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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