Over the next four years, Carter Loflin and Wells Williams will be heated rivals in the Southeastern Conference at the University of Georgia and Vanderbilt University, respectively.
But at the 7th U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship this week at the Country Club of Birmingham, they get to play on the same team, and on Saturday they set a record. On a gorgeous day in central Alabama that was briefly interrupted by a late-afternoon thunderstorm, the two 18-year-olds carded a 9-under-par 61 on the 6,611-yard East Course to establish an 18-hole championship scoring record.
The previous mark of 62 had been achieved by nine sides, most recently by three sides in the 2021 championship at Chambers Bay and The Home Course.
The East and West courses at the Country Club of Birmingham are being utilized for the 36 holes of stroke play, with all of the matches being contested on the West.
“I was really thinking about a 57 at one point, to be honest with you,” said Williams, a three-time American Junior Golf Association All-American from West Point, Miss., who was a member of the 2021 USA Junior Ryder Cup Team. “We didn’t hit the ball bad coming in. We just didn’t hit it to 10-15 feet.”
Loflin and Williams, who have been friends for a decade, started their round like Steph Curry, making five consecutive 3s – four birdies and a par – and the duo was 9 under through 11 holes. A minor hiccup on the 440-yard 12th led to a bogey. Loflin, of Duluth, Ga., a two-time champion of the Press Thornton Junior Masters in Dothan, Ala., hit his tee shot into the creek and Williams three-putted from 25 feet. The duo cashed in one final birdie on 17.
“We kept stealing putts from each other,” said Loflin of their sizzling start. “It happened a few different times. One of us would stick it to about 5 feet, but then the other would roll one in from about 20 feet. We were both giving each other [birdie] looks all day.”
Evan Beck, 31, of Virginia Beach, Va., had not been back to Alabama since his runner-up finish in the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur final at nearby Shoal Creek, and the good Birmingham-area vibes continued on Saturday. The Wake Forest graduate and his former assistant coach at Wake, Dan Walters, 37, of Winston-Salem, N.C., nearly matched Loflin and Williams. Both had birdie putts inside 20 feet on the par-4 18th of the East Course but settled for a par and a 62.
Andrew Von Lossow, 34, of Spokane, Wash., and Sean Langham, 25, of Australia; former Lipscomb University teammates Blanton Farmer, 31, of Bradenton, Fla., and Ryan Terry, 30, of Nashville, Tenn.; and a pair of 44-year-olds from San Diego, Calif., Paul Becker and Tim Tiel, also had 62s on the East Course.
Beck and Walters, both reinstated amateurs, birdied seven of their first 11 holes, and added an eighth at the 393-yard 17th.
“I don’t know what it is about this place,” said Beck of his good play in the area. “It’s a great town, great food [and I have a] great partner.
“Our personalities are perfect for one another. He’s a calming influence, which is important to me.”
Von Lossow registered five second-nine birdies to lead a late surge. The Eastern Washington University graduate, who is a graphic designer for an apparel company, also birdied No. 2 and rolled in a 30-foot eagle on the 480-yard, par-5 sixth. Langham, an insurance agent in Boise, Idaho, who played two seasons at the University of Idaho, added a birdie on No. 1. The two are making their first USGA start after gaining entry as the first alternates from the Nampa, Idaho, qualifying site.
Farmer and Terry made four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine to close the inward side at 5-under 30. Tiel and Becker had perfect symmetry in their round with four birdies on each side.
Greenville, S.C., residents Chris Eassy, 45, and Jeremy Revis, 43, were another stroke back with a 63, as were last-minute alternates Drew Kittelson and Drew Stoltz, who played 5-under golf on the inward nine of the East Course.
Torey Edwards, a 40-year-old left-hander from Long Beach, Calif., and Bret Parker, 42 of Alpine, Utah, produced the lowest score on the 7,166-yard, par-71 West Course, a 6-under-par 65. After a 2-under outward nine, the duo registered four birdies coming, including a stretch of three in a row from No. 13.
Brandon Cigna, 36, of Alexandria, Va., and Ben Warnquist, 29, of Gaithersburg, Md., the runners-up in 2016, came in with 5-under 66s, along with Kory Bowman, 51, of Springfield, Mo., and Jason Schultz, 49, of Allen, Texas, a reinstated amateur who won the 2005 Chattanooga Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour. Also posting 66s on the West Course were the father/son tandem of Brad and Cooper Wayment, of Mesa, Ariz., and Andrew Sullivan, of Louisville, Ky., and Davis Woodliff, of Tulsa, Okla.
Each of the 128 sides will play one more round of stroke play on Sunday with the low 32 scorers advancing to match play, which begins on Monday. Should a playoff be necessary to determine the final spots in the draw, it would take place Monday morning on holes 10, 11 and 16 of the East Course.
“I guess we won’t be talking anymore after this [championship].” – Carter Loflin with a smile, when asked about being a future SEC rival with partner Wells Williams
“We were joking around out there. We’ve played where you get too serious. When do you ever play well when you’re going to be that serious? That’s not our style. That’s when you know you’re trying too hard.” – Andrew Von Lossow on what makes his partnership with Australian Sean Langham work, despite the nine-year difference in age
“I was thinking if we can birdie half the holes, we’ll be in a good spot. We almost got there. [But] we can’t go out there and sleepwalk tomorrow [on the West Course].” – Dan Walters after shooting 62 on the East Course with partner Evan Beck
“I won’t even look at the leader board because it doesn’t really matter at this point. The only goal is to make match play.” – Bret Parker, who is partnering with Torey Edwards, on the side’s mindset during stroke play
“We’ve been good buddies for a long time. [Bret] chased the [professional golf] dream for many years (reinstated as an amateur in 2016), so I’m confident in him. He has three kids under the age of 6, so he doesn’t get to play as much golf as I do. We know one another so well that we don’t beat ourselves down.” – Edwards on his partnership with Parker
“We’re old. Nothing is easy for us so we’re going to keep grinding.” – 2015 Four-Ball champion Nathan Smith, 43, on the challenge of qualifying for match play with 54-year-old partner Todd White
“We figured if we played good today and just played normal tomorrow [on the West Course], we’d be there. That was the game plan and we played great.” – Jeffrey Castle when asked about the strategy to qualify for match play after shooting 6-under 64 with partner William Wingerd
“At 7 a.m. I wasn’t really awake enough to embrace it all. At a USGA event, you get a little nervous, but today I didn’t quite feel that. I told people all week it’s weird to play an event of this magnitude in your hometown. I even got a hotel room last night just to get away and try to get in that [championship] mindset.” – Clay Guerin, of Hoover, Ala., on hitting the first tee shot of the championship on the West Course.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.