Qualifying for the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball was held on Monday at Ol’ Colony Golf Complex with four teams shooting 68 to head to a playoff for the two qualifying spots for this national championship, which will be played May 2-6 at storied Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif.
Forrest Crabtree and Austin Hynson, both of Mobile, advanced in the playoff, as did Lew Mitchell of Birmingham and Will Swift of Hoover. Both teams made par to move on.
Brothers Clay and Jake Nolen, both of Hoover, and Jeff Helfrich of Stuart, Fla. and Chris Moore of Memphis, Tn., failed to advance from the playoff after both teams made double bogey.
Crabtree and Hynson are lifelong friends having grown up playing junior golf and high school golf at UMS Wright High School in Mobile. Hynson played golf for the University of Alabama, while Crabtree went to Samford. They also play together at the Country Club of Mobile.
Faced with a tough up and down after going over the green on the playoff hole, the long par 4 No. 18, Hynson chipped to six feet and made the par.
“It was a tough shot, but I told him I’ve seen him get up and down thousands of times,” Crabtree said about Hynson.
“We thought we had blown it when we made bogey (in regulation play) on No. 18,” Hynson said. “Today was about making lots of pars as it played very tough.”
Both players said they channeled memories of former UMS Wright teammate David Miller, 36, who died unexpectedly last week, leaving behind two small children. Miller played in various State championships before playing golf for the University of Georgia, where Bubba Watson was a teammate and friend, before turning professional and playing mini-tour golf for over 10 years.
“We thought a lot about David today and tried to play well as we thought about him,” Hynson said.
Swift and Mitchell, both members at Hoover Country Club, both made pars on the playoff hole to advance and said that was the key, having two players in almost every hole, to their solid round.
They are first cousins and Swift’s father-in-law, Roger Mitchell, is Mitchell’s uncle. Lucas caddied for the pair by driving a cart as all players had to walk in this USGA qualifier.
“We’ve played a lot of golf together and are comfortable playing together,” Swift said. Swift grew up in Selma and played golf for Central Alabama Community College and Auburn, while Mitchell hails from Troy and played for Troy University.
“We both hit it pretty straight. I (tend to) make a lot of pars, as does Lew and he also makes a lot of birdies. We paired up well together,” Swift said.
Mitchell talked about PGA Tour winner Michael Thompson who he has got to know as Thompson is a member at Hoover CC as well and Thompson has had two of his finest national events at the Olympic Club when he lost in the final of the 2007 U.S. Amateur and was tied for second in the 2012 U.S. Open.
“I’m going to ask him some more about Olympic now,” Mitchell said.
It will be Swift’s sixth USGA championship, Mitchell’s fourth, Hynson’s second and Crabtree’s first. Both Swift and Crabtree have won multiple AGA State Championships.
In the championship, both the Ocean and Lake courses at the Olympic Club will be used for 36-hole stroke play qualifying, with the field of 128 teams reduced to the low 32 teams who will then head into match play, with the action to be televised on Fox Television as part of their new foray into USGA national golf coverage.
Click here for the scores from the qualifier.