OC alum, OCU alum reach final reach U.S. Amateur four-ball final

Former OC golfer Kyle Hudelson watches a shot during the title match Wednesday in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Pinehurst, N.C. Photo courtesy of the USGA. Photo courtesy OC Sports Info.

OC Sports
Murray Evans, Sports Information Director

PINEHURST, N.C. – Former Oklahoma Christian golfer Kyle Hudelson and his teammate Clark Collier’s surprising and spirited run through the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship went all the way through the title match before ending Wednesday.

Hudelson and Collier – who made the tournament as alternates – were 2-up midway through the final but eventually fell 2 and 1 to a pair of 17-year-olds, Frankie Capan and Shuai Ming Wong, at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club’s famed No. 2 course. The runner-up finish was the best ever by a former OC golfer in a U.S. Golf Association event.

Hudelson played for the Eagles in 2008 and again in 2012. Ten days ago, Hudelson, a 29-year-old from Oklahoma City who now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Collier, a 27-year-old former Oklahoma City University standout who now lives in Dallas, didn’t plan on being in North Carolina for the USGA Four-Ball event.

But when an exempt team had to withdraw from the event due to a commitment in the NCAA Championship, the USGA invited Hudelson and Collier, who had earned first-alternate status after winning a playoff in a qualifier last fall in Glenn Ellyn, Ill. It was the first USGA event ever for Hudelson or Collier.

After two rounds of stroke play on Saturday and Sunday, Hudelson and Collier were at 4-under, tied for 15th among 128 teams, and make the 32-team cut for match play. In the round of 32 on Monday, they beat Joshua Irving of Dallas and Will Osborne of Fort Worth, Texas, 2 and 1.

They played two matches Tuesday, beating Brendan Borst of Philadelphia and Thomas McDonagh of Norwalk, Conn., 1-up over 19 holes – winning on hole No. 18 to force the playoff – then knocking off Nathan Smith and Todd White 1-up in the quarterfinals. Smith is a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion and he and White were teammates on the victorious 2013 U.S. Walker Cup squad.

Smith, from Pittsburgh, Pa., and White, from Spartanburg, S.C., also won the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball title in 2015.

“Nathan Smith, it’s just an honor to play with him,” Hudelson said. “I mean how many (USGA) matches has he played? (Before the week started), we said we had already won and had nothing to lose. I mean everything was against us. Beating a great team and us being a dark horse, it was great.”

On Wednesday morning, Hudelson and Collier sprung another upset, beating USGA amateur veterans Patrick Christovich of New Orleans and Garrett Rank – a three-time Canadian Mid-Amateur champion who just finished his first full season as a National Hockey League referee – 1-up over 19 holes. The Oklahoma duo rallied from a three-hole deficit over the final eight holes of regulation.

“We have no history,” Hudelson said after their semifinal win. “You could Google us and the only thing that would pop up is this championship. You’d have to search deep into Google.

“I was joking with Clark that we got a year’s worth of pressure golf shots packed into one week.”

Hudelson and Collier each had a birdie on the first two holes of the title match against Capan, from North Oaks, Minn., and Wong, from Hong Kong, to go 2-up, but Wong and Capan took the third hole. The Oklahoma duo again went ahead 2-up after taking No. 5, but that proved to be the last hole they won.

Wong and Capan, who reached the round of 16 in last year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, pulled within one at No. 10, with Wong hitting a 20-foot birdie putt. Wong’s 8-foot birdie on No. 12 tied the match. Hudelson sunk a clutch 5-foot birdie putt to halve No. 13, but he and Collier bogeyed No. 14, giving Capan and Wong the lead for the first time.

All four players failed to hit birdie putts at No. 15, halving the hole. Hudelson made a par save at No. 16 to halve the hole, but Wong and Capan sealed the win at No. 17, as Wong hit a birdie putt to take the hole.

By making the semifinals, Hudelson and Collier are exempt into next year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, to be played at Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla., providing their team remains intact.