Former Coloradan Drew Stoltz and partner Drew Kittleson come ever so close to claiming title at U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, but opponents win 18th and 19th holes to prevail
By Gary Baines – 5/18/2022
It should be noted that it’s unusual for second alternates in USGA qualifying events to actually land spots in national championships. First alternates get through on a fairly regular basis, but second alternates seldom do.
With that in mind, former Coloradan Drew Stoltz and fellow current Scottsdale, Ariz., resident Drew Kittleson finished second alternate in their qualifying for the 2022 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, that qualifier held last September in Litchfield Park, Ariz.
As of a little over a week ago, Stoltz and Kittleson had no plans to go to Birmingham, Ala., for the U.S. Four-Ball as they weren’t in the field. But a call from the USGA changed that. And from there, one thing led to another, and on Wednesday they advanced to the title match of the national championship in the event before falling in 19 holes and finishing runner-up.
After tying for seventh in the stroke-play portion of the championship, the two reinstated amateurs won their first four matches, including one on Wednesday morning, at the Country Club of Birmingham.
After never trailing for their first 35 holes on Wednesday, Stoltz and Kittleson lost to Chad Wilfong and Davis Womble when the North Carolinians won both the 18th and 19th holes in the title match.
There Stoltz and Kittleson were, ever so close to raising the trophy after once being the second alternates in a qualifier in Arizona. But a 12-foot birdie by Wilfong on No. 18 kept that from happening, And a par by the North Carolina golfers on the 19th hole, while Stoltz and Kittleson made their first bogey since the fifth hole, decided it. Stoltz missed an 8-foot par attempt on the 19th.
“On 18 we wanted to make them make birdie, and they did, but to make bogey on this hole to end it — a little baby par-4 — I think that’s a tough one,” Stoltz said.
“Yeah, it’s just devastating,” Kittleson added.
Their appearance in the finals comes four years after another team with local ties — then-Colorado State University golfers Katrina Prendergast and Ellen Secor — won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball national title.
The second-place finish had to be particularly painful for the pair of Drews after they had never trailed in either of their Wednesday matches until hole No. 36. Earlier, they had beaten Evan Beck of Virginia Beach and Dan Walters of Winston-Salem, N.C., 2 and 1 in the semifinals.
Stoltz has gained some notoriety as a co-host of the shows “Gravy and the Sleeze” on SiriusXMPGATour and the @golf_subpar podcast.
But back in the day, Stoltz grew up in Fort Collins, graduated from Poudre High School and won two very notable championships in Colorado — the 2001 5A state high school tournament and the 2004 CGA Amateur.
Stoltz went on to play professionally for seven or eight years, then has settled in as a guy who talks golf on shows/podcasts, often with former PGA Tour player Colt Knost as co-host. For a 2020 Q&A ColoradoGolf.org conducted with Stoltz, CLICK HERE.
In the final match on Wednesday, Stoltz and Kittleson (the 2008 U.S. Amateur runner-up) won the first two holes with a birdie and a par and regained a 2-up advantage with a birdie on No. 8. After Wilfong and Womble won 9 with a birdie, the teams tied the next eight holes, leaving Stoltz and Kittleson 1 up through 17. But Wilfong birdied 18 to force extra holes. Stoltz and Kittleson ended up even par for 19 holes.
In Wednesday’s semifinals, Stoltz and Kittleson were tied after 13 holes, but made better-ball birdies on 14, 15 and 17, winning 14 and 17 in the process. They were 5 under par for 17 holes.
All in all, it was ever so close to a very improbable title.
“We had a blast,” Stoltz said. “(Kittleson is) one of my best friends in the world. We took turns propping each other up. When one wasn’t playing well, the other carried most of the load.
“Wish we could have ended it a different way. That birdie they made on 18 was pretty classy. This one on the playoff hole hurts a little bit.”
For all of the results from the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, CLICK HERE.
About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for ColoradoGolf.org since 2009. He was voted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2021. Email: ColoradoGolfJournal@mac.com)