By Mike Dudurich, Freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM – Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich
FARMINGTON – Imagine being a two-man team, playing in the 74th edition of a major Four-Ball championship on a course that’s capable of biting even the best players, shooting 65-65, and LOSING.
That’s what happened to two teams Monday afternoon at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in the 74th West Penn Golf Association Four-Ball and 5th Senior Four-Ball Championships.
And there was not only one team, but two, that suffered the fate of shooting 14-under par for 36 holes and not taking home any hardware.
“It’s unbelievable, that score,” said Allison Park’s Nathan Smith, who teamed with Oakmont’s Sean Knapp for one of those 65-65s. “That’s some really strong playing by those guys.”
Those guys in this instance are Doug Stadler and Brett Bergman, a pair of Wexford residents who managed to make 16 birdies, one eagle and just three bogeys in 36 holes Monday on Nemacolim’s Mystic Rock course.
“We just decided we were going to be super-aggressive today,” said Stadler. “We were just hunting for birdies. I doubt if either of us would have shot 72 on our own ball today, but ham-and-egged it real well.”
Another indication of how well the two were playing came in this statistic: the duo did not birdie the same hole twice over 36 holes.
They got things started on the first hole of the day when Bergman holed his approach shot, making an eagle and getting the two into high gear.
The two have known each since grade school. Bergman went to Shadyside Academy and Stadler to North Catholic. They were reunited again when it came time to go to college, becoming teammates on the golf team and roommates at Villanova University for four years.
“This was our first time in a two-man team event,” Bergman said. “We just made up our minds we were going to have fun.”
Of course the game is a lot more fun when both players are scratch golfers and have the ability to dial up big shots.
They pointed to Bergman’s eagle on No. 1, his approach shot from 190 yards that stopped rolling 10 feet from the hole on the par 5 16th and Stadler’s 9-iron from 145 yards on 18 from a hanging lie that came to rest a foot from the hole as their best efforts of the day.
“Certainly leaving myself a foot for birdie takes away a lot of putting stress,” Stadler said. And this from a guy who said he hadn’t played in three or four weeks.
Stadler, 28, is a gas and oil attorney and Bergman, 29, is in the diagnostic oncology area.
That’s why they didnít enter yesterday’s USGA Four-Ball Sectional qualifying at Nemacolin.
“We were fortunate to be able to play today, another day wasn’t going to work,” Stadler said.
Smith and Knapp had quite a day themselves, making 14 birdies and no bogeys.
“We were even through six holes this afternoon, just couldn’t get anything going,” Smith, who teamed with Todd White to win the National Four-Ball in May, said. “We played well, but just didn’t make anything.”
After making a birdie on the eighth, Smith and Knapp made six birdies on the back nine, closing with three straight by Smith.
“That’s the best we’ve ever shot (130), without a doubt,” Smith said.
Greensburg’s Arnie Cutrell and partner Darin Kowalski also put up 16 birdies, made just two bogeys and came up a shot short.
The Senior Four-Ball was hotly contested as well. Mike McGuire and Joe Ruby shot rounds of 64-67 to finish at 13-under par, good enough for a one-shot victory over the team of John Benson and Don Erickson III. Rich DuCarme and Alan English were three shots back and the only other team to finish in double-digits under par.