The 2018 Heart of America Fourball Championship was one to remember. Held at The National Golf Club of Kansas City, 16 teams competed in a bracket style match play format with eight qualifying from the Kansas Golf Association and the other eight qualifying from the Kansas City Golf Association.
The round of 16 took place Wednesday morning, August 8th. In the KGA bracket, it would be David Rismiller/Jason Seeman, Jack Lee/Nick Kagy, Bradley Lane/William Gantz and Josh Williams/Kit Grove who would advance to the afternoon quarterfinal round. Rismiller/Seeman would take down Lee/Kagy in the quarterfinals with a 4 and 3 victory. Williams/Grove advanced to the semi-finals with a 5 and 3 win over Lane/Gantz.
On the KCGA side, Andy Kelley/Matt Kelley, Jeff Mason/Sam Parrott, Gregory Diederich/Kevin Rome, and Elliot Soyez/Jeff Bell would all advance to the quarterfinal matches. Mason/Parrott would take down top seed Matt/Andy Kelley in a close 3 and 1 win. Defending champions Soyez/Bell would handle Diederich/Rome 4 and 3.
In what would be a great set of semi-final matches, Williams/Grove competed against Rismiller/Seeman while Soyez/Bell went up against Parrott/Mason on Thursday morning, August 9th. Parrott/Mason got out to an early lead over the defending champions after a birdie on their first hole. Their lead would extend to 2 up after a win on the Par-4, 3rd hole. Soyez/Bell wouldn’t go lightly and with a birdie by Bell on the Par-4, 7th, the deficit would cut to 1.
The next six holes would be halved, but after another birdie by Bell on #14, Mason/Parrott would see their lead diminish completely as the match stood all square heading into #15. Parrott would put the team back in front with a birdie and keep the 1 up lead going into the Par-5, 18th hole. The hole would come down to Parrott and Soyez as both Mason and Bell would pick up after errant shots. After Soyez made a ten-footer for birdie, the match would be all square after the regulation 18 holes and head to extras.
Bell/Soyez would clinch a spot in the Heart of America Four-Ball finals and complete their comeback with a birdie on the 19th hole of competition.
In the second semi-final of the HOA Four-Ball Championship, Seeman/Rismiller lead their match over Grove/Williams 3 up heading into the Par-3, 16th after controlling their match all morning. Kit Grove would be the only player in the foursome to make par to decrease the deficit to 2 up with two holes to play. Grove would go on to birdie the last two holes of competition to miraculously make the match all square after 18 holes for perhaps the biggest comeback in Heart of America history.
The match would last another six holes until Seeman/Rismiller both bogeyed the Par-3, 6th. Grove/Williams parred the 24th hole of competition to complete their amazing comeback and move on to the Heart of America Four-Ball finals against Soyez/Bell.
To add drama to the mix, after going 6 extra holes in the semifinal match, the finals would not start until 3:45 PM, nearly two and half hours after originally scheduled. With sunset scheduled at 8:30 PM, the two teams were not only competing against each other, but against Mother Nature.
Looking to defend their title, Soyez/Bell found themselves out to an early lead and were 2 up heading into the Par-4, 11th. With a birdie from Williams on 11 and a birdie from Grove on 12, the match was unexpectedly all square going in to 13. The match would complete a 180 as Williams again birdied 13 and Grove followed suit with another birdie on 14 and found themselves 2 up after 4 consecutive birdies. Some poor tee shots from Williams/Grove in the last few holes left the door open for Soyez/Bell who would capitalize and get back to all square heading into 18.
Both Williams and Soyez would make clutch par putts on the 18th green to send the HOA Finals into extra holes, the second time of the day for both teams. Mother Nature was catching up after the third extra hole of the championship and darkness would only allow time for one final hole: the short Par-4, 13th. Standing on the 13th green in near darkness, Williams would pitch in onto the green and a foot from the hole for an easy par. Bell, about ten feet away and putting for par, would pull off his greatest putt of the day to extend the match.
A scheduled two-day championship would extend into its third day as a winner was still undecided. After 46 holes of competition for Williams/Grove and 41 for Soyez/Bell, both would return to The National on Friday, August 10th to finish their match and capture the Heart of America Champion trophy.
Both teams teed off #1 for the 6th time in three days at 7:45 AM on Friday morning. With four pars on the 23rd hole of competition, both teams would continue on to the Par-5, 2nd. With Bell/Soyez both in with pars, Kit Grove would find himself on the 2nd green with a chance at birdie and a win. Ten feet stood between Grove/Williams and their amazing story at the 2018 Heart of America Four-Ball Championship. Williams watched on the side of the green as his partner would make his ten-foot birdie and finally claim victory after such an amazing comeback in their semifinals as well as their final match.
The tenacity and heart displayed by the entire field, especially by Kit Grove and Josh Williams was something you never forget. The 2018 Heart of America Four-Ball will be a special one that people remember for a long time. Congratulations to Elliot Soyez and Jeff Bell on a hard fought championship as well. Both men played great golf and even when they were down, never thought they were done. Congratulations to Kit and Josh on a great display of golf throughout the entire tournament and congratulations on one of the greatest comebacks we have seen here at the KCGA.
We hope Grove and Williams will be back next to defend their title and that we have just as much great competition as we did this year. What a display of golf.
For a full field of results, see here.
By Taylor Albritton, KCGA Intern