FLOURTOWN, Pa. — One team secured its first appearance. Another clinched its fourth. Together they shared centerstage in a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill Course (par 72, 7,113 yards) Wednesday.
Longtime friends and University of Maryland alums Josh Notes and Andrew Rice, in addition to familiar Cricket faces Sean Semenetz and Jack Wallace, carded respective 7-under-par 65s to advance. The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball will take place May 25-29, 2019 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore.
“It feels good to put up a good number and make it worth a day,” Rice, 34, of Parkton, Md., said. “We’ve been close [to qualifying] before. We were able to keep the card clean.”
“Here’s the short version [of our round]: I have not played much golf this year. Sean has been playing great this year,” Wallace, 34, of Norristown, Pa., said. “He knew he would have to carry me going in. Even with that burden, he went out and made six birdies and one eagle. Lights out. One of the guys in our group said he was the best putter he’s ever seen. Not my words.”
“It was a team effort,” a subtle Semenetz, 31, of Philadelphia, Pa., added.
In its third U.S. Four-Ball bid (2015, 2017) earlier this year, the Semenetz and Wallace team fell a stroke short of a match play spot at Jupiter Hills Club. When asked why they continue to find success in this setting, Semenetz and Wallace both paused, glanced at the sky and then voiced their respective opinions.
“I was thinking about this on the way in. What I wonder is, ‘Are the two of us this good, or is the rest of the Philadelphia scene just not that good?’” Wallace said jokingly before elaborating. “I don’t know. We ham and egg it.”
“It’s ham and eggs. I love me some pork roll, and we get it done,” Semenetz said.
Punctuated by a “pots and pans” from Wallace. The two clanked plenty of red kitchenware Wednesday.
Semenetz opened with three birdies on the front nine. On No. 4 (par 4, 391 yards), he drilled a 60-degree wedge 70 yards to two feet. After nearly reaching the No. 6 (par 5, 557 yards) green in two, Semenetz, a Philadelphia Cricket member, nudged a wedge to four feet. He launched a hybrid to 20 feet on the monstrous No. 9 (par 3, 239 yards).
“[Groupmate Toby Hearn] gave it a ‘boom’ when he made a birdie on No. 8. I gave it a ‘boom baby’ when Sean made that,” Wallace, a former Cricketeer and current Burlington Country Club member, said. “It was a boom-off.”
The booms favored the so-called “Four-Ball legends” coming in. Semenetz dropped an 18-footer on No. 11 (par 3, 162 yards) following a chop 9-iron. A trap 60-degree wedge from 70 yards on the next hole (par 4, 397 yards) resulted in a 12-footer for birdie. Semenetz and Wallace shied away from sharing insights on their lone bogey: a three-putt on No. 13 (par 4, 444 yards).
“What happened on No. 13 green, we can’t talk about it. Let’s talk about No. 14,” Semenetz said.
An eagle is what happened there. Semenetz saw his 3-wood from 257 yards scoot to 20 feet. He and Wallace analyzed the ensuing read.
“Sean wanted to play it a cup out. I called him off it and told him right edge,” Wallace said. “He made it dead center.”
The next two holes yielded significant putts as well. Wallace notched a par for his team on No. 16 (par 4, 394 yards) after limping his approach onto the green. He and Semenetz solidified co-medalist status with 10-footers for birdie on the next hole (par 5, 561 yards).
Like the Semenetz and Wallace team, Notes and Rice advanced thanks to a feverish finish. A pace-of-play warning on No. 13 made the two liable to a one-stroke penalty. It also galvanized Notes and Rice.
“I was struggling, so I tried to run as fast as possible and tried to keep him steady. I guess it worked out,” Rice said.
On the par 3, 162-yard 11th hole, Notes knocked a 9-iron to 20 feet and drained the testy downhiller. As Rice’s driver contracted a virus, Notes’ game remained uncompromised. He hit a gap wedge 120 yards to 10 feet on No. 12 (par 4, 397 yards). Notes also completed a difficult up-and-down on the next hole (par 4, 444 yards) after missing the green with a 5-iron. That sturdy stretch ended with a 4 on the par 5, 530-yard 14th hole. Notes spun a wedge from 48 yards to two feet.
“If he hadn’t been so steady, it would have been tough for me to bounce back. All of those birdies and strong pars he made kept me in it,” Rice said. “I was bad with my tee ball the whole back nine. I had a case of the lefts. I got a little lost, but he was a rock. He was playing steady and was never out of the hole.”
Rice, a strategic analyst at Constellation Energy Group, atoned for his tee sins with a clutch eagle on the par 5, 561-yard 17th hole, where he hammered a hybrid 245 yards to 15 feet. The co-medalists also birdied No. 6 (par 5, 557 yards). Notes, a Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club member, dropped a 20-footer on top of Rice’s three-foot look there. He also converted a 25-footer for birdie on the uphill par 4, 406-yard No. 2.
“I put a new putter in the bag. I played in the Middle Atlantic Amateur Championship [Oct. 4-7 at Lakewood Country Club],” Notes, who builds renewable power plants, said. “I knew it was probably going to cost me some strokes over the weekend to get used to it. I didn’t care. Today was all I cared about.”
The Maryland residents trekked north to qualify for two reasons. First, their local qualifying site, Worthington Manor Golf Club in Urbana, Md., didn’t mesh well with their respective games. Philadelphia Cricket, on the other hand, spoke their language.
“I had an expectation of what the conditions would be,” Rice, a Baltimore Country Club member, said. “The fairways and greens here are more like my home course. Anytime you can get on greens you feel you’re going to be comfortable on is key in a qualifier like this, when you have to make birdies.”
“He qualified for match play in the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Stonewall, and I drove up to caddie for him the next day. That’s a good representation of our relationship,” Notes, 34, of Laurel, Md., added. “He’s the first guy I text after I finish a good round.”
No texts, just a handshake and a hug Wednesday.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 260 Full Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|Jack Wallace/Sean Semenetz, Norristown, Pa./Philadelphia, Pa.||65|
|Andrew Rice/Josh Notes, Parkton, Md./Laurel, Md.||65|
|Alternates (in order)|
|*Adam Hofmann/Cory Siegfried, Tampa, Fla./Haverford, Pa.||66|
|*Benjamin Shields/Mike Filler, Towson, Md.||66|
|Failed to qualify|
|Brendan Borst/Tommy McDonagh, Bryn Mawr, Pa./Greenwich, Conn.||67|
|Jeff Daniels/Scott Micklewright, Harrisburg, Pa.||67|
|Benjamin Feld/Michael Carr, Gladwyne, Pa./East Norriton, Pa.||67|
|Marc Mandel/Sam McFall, Plymouth Meeting, Pa./Wyndmoor, Pa.||67|
|Carey Bina/Jalen Griffin, Villanova, Pa./San Francisco, Calif.||68|
|Ben Lukehart/Matt Lukehart, Monkton, Md./Towson, Md.||68|
|Justin Armstrong/Kevin Fullenkamp, Tampa, Fla.||69|
|Matthew Wheeler/Vincent Castronovo, Houston, Texas/New York, N.Y.||69|
|Daniel Charen/Patrick Welsh, Langhorne, Pa./Doylestown, Pa.||69|
|Conrad Von Borsig/Gregor Orlando, Philadelphia, Pa.||69|
|Dan Arison/Dan Bernard, King of Prussia, Pa./Philadelphia, Pa.||69|
|Brian Davis/Michael Stokes, Glen Mills, Pa./Reisterstown, Md.||69|
|James Furness/Matthew Anderson, Pottstown, Pa./West Lawn, Pa.||70|
|Drew Mayhew/Peter Sauerbrei, Canada||70|
|Brian Fischer/Mike Valentine, Philadelphia, Pa./Doylestown, Pa.||70|
|Brian Gillespie/Stephen Dressel, Newtown Square, Pa./Wayne, Pa.||71|
|Heath Cotton/Toby Hearn, Canton, Conn./Basking Ridge, N.J.||71|
|Cory Taylor/Phillip Villari, Jr., Moorestown, N.J./Cinnaminson, N.J.||71|
|Matthew Kocent/Regan Papariello, Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Philadelphia, Pa.||72|
|Robby Walizer/Scott Storck, Philadelphia, Pa./ Blue Bell, Pa.||72|
|Chris Mullhaupt/Tristan Lewis, Pepper Pike, Ohio/Beachwood, Ohio||72|
|Carter Thompson/Zareh Kaloustian, Tallahassee, Fla./Sherman Oaks, Calif.||72|
|Brian Kehoe/Robert Kehoe, Katonah, N.Y./Allentown, Pa.||72|
|J.T. Taylor/Jim Brown, Aurora, Ohio/Chagrin Falls, Ohio||72|
|Michael Anderson/Michael Johnson, Horsham, Pa./Ambler, Pa.||72|
|John Brennan/Ryan Gelrod, Collegeville, Pa./Flourtown, Pa.||73|
|Brian McDermott/Dan Brown, Media, Pa./Broomall, Pa.||73|
|David Blair/Joseph Shin, Rutherford, N.J./Brooklyn, N.Y.||73|
|John Buliga/Mark Czerniakowski, Langhorne, Pa./Montgomeryville, Pa.||73|
|Chip Culp/Robert Robertson, Washington, D.C./Philadelphia, Pa.||74|
|Andrew Wallace/Michael Axelrod, Merion Station, Pa./Narberth, Pa.||74|
|Michael Gillio/Nick Anderson, Ridgewood, N.J./Newtown Square, Pa.||75|
|Jamison Licausi/Kevin Maguire, Mount Laurel, N.J./Philadelphia, Pa.||76|
|Michael Fagan/Stephen O’Sullivan, W. Conshohocken, Pa./Villanova, Pa.||77|
|Daniel Feeney/Ryan McDonald, Ardmore, Pa./Laverock, Pa.||77|
|Matthew Hasness/Scott Walters, Abington, Pa./Easton, Pa.||77|
|Michael Perry/Ryan Vassil, Dunmore, Pa./Philadelphia, Pa.||78|
|Harry Proietto/Tom Rowinski, Norristown, Pa.||78|
|Matthew German/Michael Heller, Collegeville, Pa./Basking Ridge, N.J.||79|
|Joe Corcoran/Matthew Scriff, Conshohocken, Pa./Allentown, Pa.||80|
|* — determined in playoff|