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#USFourBall Qualifier: Old York Road

Cricket’s Kocent, Walizer cap #USFourBall Qual.

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SPRING HOUSE, Pa. — They sat on the patio of Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill course following last year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifier, gazing admirably upon co-medalists Jack Wallace and Sean Semenetz. Although Matthew Kocent and Robby Walizer felt proud of their friends, the two knew deep down that they could be in their shoes one day.

“We both agreed on the patio, when we saw Sean and Jack giggling it up, that we would be partners [for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball] this year,” Kocent, 25, of Manayunk, Pa., said. “Both of our teams shot even last year. I asked Robby how he played, and he said, ‘I shot even.’ He asked how I played, and I shot even. We were like, ‘If we play together, we both make birdies. We both hit it pretty straight. Let’s go for it.’”

“We played in every [BMW GAP] Team Match this year [for Philadelphia Cricket]. It was a match made in heaven,” Walizer, 34, of Fairmount, Pa., added.

A match that created a divine performance Tuesday. Kocent and Walizer carded a 9-under-par 62 to earn medalist honors in a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifier administered by GAP at Old York Road Country Club (par 71, 6,554 yards).

Lu Lu Country Club’s Jon Rusk and James Sullivan, Jr., who share Old York Road’s course record, and Green Valley Country Club’s Brett Brenner and Andrew Wallace also advanced. The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball will take place May 23-27, 2020 at Philadelphia Cricket Club.

“I can’t tell you how much it means to be able to play at our home course. We’re going to have quite the gallery,” Walizer said. “For the last year, everybody at the club said that Matty and I had a good shot at qualifying. We hit it straight. We hit our irons well and we can get hot with the putter.”

Yes, yes and yes as far as Old York Road is concerned. The Kocent and Walizer team, which started on the back nine, birdied all four of the course’s par 3s. Kocent’s 3-iron to challenging back-left hole locations on Nos. 3 (185 yards) and 16 (180 yards) set up conversions of nine and 15 feet, respectively. Walizer hit an 8-iron to six feet on No. 14 (150 yards). He drained an improbable 50-footer on the back-to-front sloping No. 5 (212 yards) after landing a hybrid below the ridge.  

Walizer surrounded that birdie with fireworks, too. He sunk a 35-footer for birdie on No. 4 (par 5, 536 yards) and a seven-footer on No. 7 (par 4, 407 yards) following a pitching wedge from 128 yards. To seize outright medalist honors, Walizer brushed the flag with his third shot on No. 9 (par 5, 556 yards), paving the way for a tap-in birdie. Once the putt dropped, he threw down his putter and welcomed a leaping Kocent into his arms.

Before entering a full-fledged celebration, Kocent and Walizer credited fellow Philadelphia Cricket Club members Kevin Kelly and Conrad Von Borsig for their blockbuster day. The former invited Kocent and Walizer to Old York Road for a stag day two weeks ago — a key introduction to the property. The latter caddied for his compatriots, providing “on point” yardages throughout the day.

Leave it to Von Borsig, one of the most affable competitors on the GAP circuit, to deliver a fitting exclamation.

“The Cricket guys are in,” he said as Kocent and Walizer walked toward the scoring area.

In the opening round of the 1998 Old York Road Invitational, Rusk set a course record of 66. The following day, Sullivan tied Rusk’s mark.

“I hated his guts growing up. I didn’t like him one bit,” Rusk, 40, of Yardley, Pa., said. “I shot the course record. He shot it the day after. I never forgave him.

“But then we saw [a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Qualifier] was here, and I said, ‘No one will play with either one of us, so let’s team up.’”

“You ought to ask (Old York Road member Bryan) Marvin because he’s not shy to talk. Marv said to me that the course is three shots harder the second day [of the Old York Road Invitational],” Sullivan, 44, of Glenside, Pa., said. “My 66 is three shots better than his 66.”

Rest assured the hatchet is now buried. Well, deep enough for Rusk and Sullivan to gel as a unit. The two finished a shot back of Kocent and Walizer Tuesday. Three straight birdies courtesy of Sullivan sent the team on its qualifying way: a wedge 70 yards to six feet on No. 12 (par 4, 355 yards), 85 yards to 15 feet on No. 13 (par 4, 407 yards) and an 8-iron to six feet on No. 14 (par 3, 150 yards).

“He’s easy to play golf with,” Rusk, who regained his amateur status in June, said.

“It took him 20 years to learn that,” Sullivan added.

Wallace, a senior at Harriton High School, buried a five-footer for birdie on the par 3, 180-yard 16th hole to bring his team inside the cut line. His 5-iron off the tee painted the flagstick. Wallace, 18, of Narberth, Pa., then executed a brilliant up-and-down on the next hole (par 4, 411 yards) to preserve 6 under. After snapping a drive into the right tree-line, he safely punched onto the fairway. Wallace’s pitching wedge from 125 yards landed 20 feet below the hole location. He stroked the par putt with confidence.

“I said to Brett, ‘This is what we live for,’” Wallace, who verbally committed to Drexel University, said. “I just trusted my line.”

“It’s nice when your partner doesn’t make you have to make [a six-footer for par],” Brenner, 28, of Villanova, Pa., added.

Qualifiers
Name, city, score
Matthew Kocent/Robby Walizer, Philadelphia, Pa.62
Jon Rusk/James Sullivan, Yardley, Pa., Glenside, Pa.63
Brett Brenner/Andrew Wallace, Villanova, Pa., Narberth, Pa.65
Alternates (in order)
*Kevin Busteed/Eric Plisko, Charlotte, N.C., Hanover Township, Pa.66
*Michael Carr/Benjamin Feld, East Norriton, Pa., Gladwyne, Pa.66
Failed to qualify
Stephen Dressel/Brian Gillespie, Wayne, Pa., Newtown Square, Pa.66
Gregory Day/Bryan Marvin, Fort Washington, Pa., Hatboro, Pa.66
Matthew Lafond/Stephen Lorenzo, Blue Bell, Pa., Lower Gwynedd, Pa.66
Maxwell Moldovan/Jacob Tarkany, Uniontown, Ohio, Scottsdale, Ariz.66
Maximillian Muller/Christopher Reedman, Fort Washington, Pa., Yardley, Pa.66
Brian Fischer/Michael Valentine, Philadelphia, Pa., Doylestown, Pa.67
Chris Lange/Andrew Mason, Bryn Mawr, Pa., Huntingdon Valley, Pa.67
Tully Coyle/Scott Ehrlich, Charlotte, N.C., Berwyn, Pa.67
Connor Coldwater/Brian Mahlstedt,Jr., Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia, Pa.67
Gregor Orlando/Conrad VonBorsig, Haverford, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa.68
Paul Giovannoli/Todd VanGrouw, Stroudsburg, Pa., Lincoln Park, N.J.68
Joshua Krumholz/Ron Robinson, Reading, Pa., Hatfield, Pa.68
Andrew Carnevale/Bob Dowd, Oreland, Pa., Conshohocken, Pa.68
P.J. Acierno/John Samaha, Flourtown, Pa., Hatboro, Pa.68
Christopher Baloga/Jeffrey Castle, Baltimore, Md.68
Luke Lynch/Eric Piro, Glencoe, Ill., Moorestown, N.J.69
Sean Semenetz/Jack Wallace, Philadelphia, Pa., Cinnaminson, N.J.69
Larry Lis/Bart Mease, Avella, Pa., Gaithersburg, Md.69
Dwight Diorio/Mark Hill, Media, Pa.69
Thomas Humphrey/Steve Walczak, Chadds Ford, Pa., Greenville, Del.69
Ryan Beck/Brendan Clearkin,Jr., Ambler, Pa.69
Scott McLaughlin/Mike Moffat, Ambler, Pa., Warrington, Pa.69
Jeffrey Shanahan/Patrick Shanahan, Devon, Pa.69
Eddie Johnson/Stephen Seiden, Havertown, Pa., Newtown Square, Pa.69
Nicholas Gross/Benjamin Saggers, Downingtown, Pa., West Chester, Pa.70
Dan Arison/Dan Bernard, King Of Prussia, Pa., Berwyn, Pa.70
Greg Burkavage/Vincent Scarpetta, Baltimore, Md., Crystal Lake, Pa.70
Patrick Dougherty/James White, North Wales, Pa., San Angelo, Texas70
John Brooks/John Limanti, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Jacksonville Beach, Fla.70
Anthony Sarko/Jason Wilson, Allentown, Pa.71
John Brennan/Ryan Gelrod, Collegeville, Pa., Flourtown, Pa.71
Marc Mandel/Sam McFall, Plymouth Meeting, Pa., Wyndmoor, Pa.71
Nicholas Gruber/Brandon Raihl, Cincinnati, OH, Wernersville, Pa.71
Josh Notes/Andrew Rice, Columbia, Md., Baltimore, Md.71
Christopher Matisse/Adam Mowery, Mechanicsburg, Pa., Chadds Ford, Pa.71
Patrick McCusker/Gerard Rosato, Wyndmoor, Pa., Jeffersonville, Pa.72
John Alterman/John Nottage, New Hope, Pa., Warminster, Pa.72
Paul Carbone/Jim Rosenbaum, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Horsham, Pa.72
Sean Seese/Benjamin Smith, Rydal, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa.72
Steve Fekety/Glen Rennie, Cave Creek, AZ, Hillsboro, OR72
Andy Beittel/David Marshall, Oreland, Pa., Glassboro, N.J.72
Ed Enoch/Brian Skrip, Lansdale, Pa., Blue Bell, Pa.72
Brett Murphy/John Murphy, Dennis Township, N.J., Cape May Court House, N.J.72
John Fasy/Mark Wachter, Richmond, Va., Wilmington, Del.72
James Berenato/Jeffrey St.Amour, Bryn Mawr, Pa., Radnor, Pa.73
Kyle Nedlik/Sean Pass, Binghamton, N.Y., Ithaca, N.Y.73
Tom Grady/Matthew Salamone, West Chester, Pa., Blue Bell, Pa.74
Gabriel Gant/Gregory Markus, Voorhees, N.J., Moorestown, N.J.74
Dan Pinciotti, Jr./Sean Ryan, Ivyland, Pa., Jenkintown, Pa.75
Billy Johns/David Olexson, Johns Creek, GA, Bethlehem, Pa.75
Jeffrey Romines/Andrew Sterge, Conshohocken, Pa., Wayne, Pa.76
Paul Erber/Sean Torpey, New Providence, N.J., Doylestown, Pa.77
Drew Garis/Kyle Garis, Glenside, Pa., Ambler, Pa.78
Jim Dufficy/Mike Paduano, Tinton Falls, N.J., Shrewsbury, N.J.WD
Jeff Basile/Chris Marzoli, Morristown, N.J., Branchburg, N.J.WD
Joey Hoban/Matthew Krass, West Chester, Pa., Chadds Ford, Pa.WD
WD — withdrawal
* — determined in playoff