By Dalton Balthaser
PUTNAM, CONN.- Alex Jeffers stepped up to a 71-yard wedge shot on No. 18 (par 5, 588 yards) at Connecticut National Golf Club knowing what he needed to do.
Get down in two for birdie to secure a spot in the upcoming U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Anyone who cares about the result of any task will certainly feel nerves in trying to accomplish it.
Without hesitation, in true clutch fashion, Jeffers clipped his 58-degree wedge perfectly. The shot landed just past the hole and spun back to three feet.
“I have hit a 71-yard wedge shot a trillion times,” said Jeffers. “It’s all about controlling the nerves. I took a couple deep breaths and thought about taking the club back a little slower. Luckily, the shot hit a slope I didn’t know about and it spun close.”
Jeffers also birdied Nos. 16 (par 4, 462 yards) and 17 (par 4, 432 yards) to give himself and partner Garren Poirier medalist honors in #USFourBall Qualifying administered by the Rhode Island Golf Association Tuesday at Connecticut National (par 71, 6,897 yards).
They finished with a team total of 65, one better than the next pair.
“Alex birdied the last three holes to get us in by a shot without a playoff,” said Poirier, 40, of Killington, Vt. “Absolute legend.
“On the 15th tee we had a long way to go and to finish like we did is amazing. I am so proud of Alex and the way he played down the stretch.”
Kevin Gately of Pembroke, Mass. and Sam Jenkins of Hingham, Mass as well as Alvin Kwak (Somers, N.Y.) and Nathan Han (Mukilteo, Wash.) survived a five-team playoff for the final two spots. Each team birdied both playoff holes to get in.
The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball will take place May 22-26, 2021 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
Jeffers rolled in a 20-footer on No. 16 and another on No. 17 to get them to 5 under. Then he sealed the deal at the last.
“Garren and I know each other pretty well,” said Jeffers, 34, of Needham, Mass. “A lot gets said without saying anything. We each play our own game. We always back each other up and know what to say at the right time, which is nothing.”
Poirier and Jeffers claimed medalist honors in the last group of the day on a day that seemed to never end. Damp, cold and windy weather made time stand still. Only for Jeffers to put together an all-time closing finish.
This will be the 17th total USGA event the team has played in. This will be Poirier’s 13th and Jeffers’ fourth. They will have plenty to draw from.
This will be the second time they will compete in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. They played in the 2018 edition at the Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla. They left there disappointed after missing the match play cut but left with a burning desire to get back again.
“The first time you go to a USGA event you immediately want to go back,” said Poirier. “It is so special to be there, and it feels like a major. To do it with one of my best friends is amazing.”
“When we played in the U.S. Four-Ball at Jupiter Hills we didn’t play our best and only missed match play by four shots,” said Jeffers. “We immediately said we need to get back here because we felt like we could win it. I get to travel with my best friend. Doesn’t get much better.”