USGA 4-Ball has surreal finish; young phenom Blades Brown, partner come up short

Seventeen-year-old Blades Brown and his playing partner, Jackson Herrington, faced a one-hole deficit to Brian Blanchard and Sam Engel on the 18th hole at the Philadelphia Cricket Club on Tuesday.

Brown and Herrington, natives of Tennessee, needed to win the final hole to extend their match against Blanchard and Engel. Blanchard is a software engineer, and Engel is an account executive at a software company—both hail from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Of these four players, Brown’s name has entered the golf lexicon the most. He most recently made headlines at the Myrtle Beach Classic, where he made the cut. He also made history last year by surpassing Bobby Jones’ 103-year-old record, becoming the youngest medalist in U.S. Amateur history.

Blades Brown, USGA

Blades Brown plays a tee shot.
Jonathan Ernst/USGA

So it should surprise no one that Brown stepped up on the 18th tee and ripped a 350-yard drive down the middle of the fairway. He then hit a sand wedge into the green, but it spun too much after landing, settling 16 feet short of the cup.

Herrington, meanwhile, came up short of the putting surface and, therefore, did not have a good look at birdie, leaving it all up to his playing partner.

On the other hand, Engel stuffed his approach on the 18th to 10 feet inside of Brown, giving ‘Team Software’ the edge while setting the stage for a dramatic ending.

With Brown away, he stepped up, hit a confident stroke, and all signs pointed to his birdie try dropping into the hole. Alas, it came to rest on the edge of the cup, leaving Brown and Herrington agonizingly short of possibly extending the match.

“I found out that this is my four-ball partner for life,” Brown said, per the USGA.

“Golf is so mental. Coming down the stretch, I felt like Jackson and I were mentally prepared to battle. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done this time, but we’re going to come back.”

Brown’s miss handed two gold medals and the trophy to Blanchard and Engel, who, with the win, earned exemptions into this year’s U.S. Amateur at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota and this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur at Kinloch Golf Club in Virginia. They also gain entry into the next 10 U.S. Amateur Four-Balls, provided that this team remains intact.

USGA, Brian Blanchard, Sam Engel

Brian Blanchard and Sam Engel celebrate their victory.
Jonathan Ernst/USGA

Perhaps best of all, their names will be etched into the Hall of Champions at the USGA Museum in Liberty Corner, New Jersey.

“It’s why we grind,” Blanchard said.

“It’s why we’re out there after work until it gets dark, grinding all day. I think he has a little more confidence than me. But here we are. I appreciate Sam for bringing his really strong confidence this week and helping the team to victory.”

Registration for the 2025 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, slated to take place at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey, is ongoing. To play, each teammate must have a Handicap Index of no more than 2.4. Entries close on Aug. 7 at 5 p.m. EDT.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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