With three teams and two other players with ties to Wisconsin in the field, the Badger State will be well-represented at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, Saturday through Wednesday at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon.
And Ozaukee Country Club can claim 50 percent of the Wisconsin qualifiers.
Nathan Colson and Jason Gaare, former Marquette University teammates, shot a 66 to win the qualifier at The Legend at Merrill Hills back in September. One stroke back, and also advancing, were Brian Thiet and David Brock.
All four are members at Ozaukee CC and three of the four live in Mequon. Thiet, who lives in Shorewood, is the outlier.
“We play a good deal together,” Brock said. “It’s pretty cool that Ozaukee has two teams (at the Four-Ball). I wouldn’t think that happens too often.”
Also representing Wisconsin is the team of Kevin Van Rossum of Hartland and Ben Shafer of Brookfield. Ted Gray of Phoenix, another former Marquette golfer, qualified with partner Travis Milleman of Portland, Oregon. And former University of Wisconsin golfer Mark Scheibach, now living in La Quinta, California, qualified with partner Tyler Crawford of Indio, California.
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball format calls for two rounds stroke play, Saturday and Sunday, after which the 128 teams will be reduced to the low 32 for match play. There will be five rounds of match play on the Old Macdonald Course at Bandon Dunes starting Monday.
“Our goal is to make it to match play and see what happens,” Brock said.
Brock, 32, has an interesting background. He helped Milwaukee Marquette High School win a pair of state tennis titles and played golf only occasionally, estimating he was a 15 handicap. After graduating from Purdue University, he got his tennis ranking up to 5.0.
“At that point, you’re playing against ex-Division 1 athletes and teaching pros,” he said.
Brock started suffering from a bit of tennis burnout and didn’t want to commit to hours of practice daily to keep his ranking, so he switched to golf. Within 18 months, he lowered his handicap to plus-2.
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball was the first USGA qualifier he entered, other than U.S. Open local qualifying a couple years ago, “which was just for fun.”
Thiet, 33, a Mequon Homestead High School graduate, won the North Shore Conference title as a senior and is a two-time WSGA Four-Ball semifinalist, but the U.S. Four-Ball is his first USGA championship.
Colson and Gaare won the WSGA Four-Ball title in 2003 and again in 2006.
Scheibach, a native of Fond du Lac, helped the Badgers win Big Ten team titles in 1993 and 1994 and was a three-time all-conference first team selection. He currently is general manager and COO of The Quarry at La Quinta.
Gray, an Oshkosh native, won the 2008 Big East Conference individual title as a senior at Marquette. He is a project engineer at Ping.