76th Annual Invitational Four-Ball: Andy Lesenski, Chris Austin in winning form

  • Jarod Goss watches KC Finley's tee shot on the ninth hole at the 76th Invitational Four Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield Friday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • KC Finley putts on 9 at the 76th Invitational Four Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield Friday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Andy Lesenski helps partner Chris Austin line up a putt on the ninth hole at the 76th Invitational Four Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield Friday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Andy Lesenski putts on 9 at the 76th Invitational Four Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield Friday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Chris Austin drives on 10 at the 76th Invitational Four Ball at the Country Club of Greenfield Friday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2021 9:14:57 PM
Modified: 7/23/2021 9:15:07 PM

GREENFIELD — It’s been 10 years since Andy Lesenski and Chris Austin took home the Country Club of Greenfield’s Invitation Four-Ball championship, and with the way they’ve played through two days of the 76th running of the tournament, another title may be in the cards. 

No. 3 seeded Lesenski and Austin took care of business on Friday during the first round of the single-elimination match play portion of the Championship Flight, defeating No. 14 Sam Conant and Will Conant. 

The 2021 Country Club of Greenfield club champion, Lesenski is feeling extra confident on the course. 

“You just have to survive and advance,” Lesenski said. “I’m definitely comfortable around here. We have some good vibes. It’s the 10-year anniversary of our championship so we’re trying to cap it as nice as we can. We played solid and stayed patient and hung around today.”

The quest for a second Four-Ball title has been hampered by multiple factors. Since the championship, they’ve had a runner-up appearance, but injuries for Lesenski and Austin living in Florida have delayed their attempt to repeat. 

Having played together for so long, they feel they have the right attack to make a run. 

“We’ve come up with a game plan of how we want to attack the course and we’re sticking with it,” Austin said. “We’re taking it one shot at a time and not getting ahead of where we are in the moment. If you can stay in the moment in an event like this, you’ll be just fine.” 

With so much rain last weekend hampering the course, both Lesenski and Austin were amazed at how well it played on Friday. 

“The course is great,” Austin said. “Shout out to the people taking care of this place. With all the rain we got last weekend, they deserve all the credit. Not only is it playable but it’s in great shape.” 

Looking to spoil their plan for another championship will be No. 11 Dave Kennedy and Nate Burdick, who took down No. 6 Hank Champagne and Mike Develin on Friday. 

Kennedy and Burdick are no strangers to playing in the later stages of the tournament, the two combining for eight titles, two as partners. Their most recent came in 2015. 

They’ll tee off at 7 a.m. on Saturday against Lesenski and Austin with a spot in the semifinals on the line. 

“We’re both very comfortable with each other,” Kennedy said. “We play a lot of golf here. We’re both members so that helps. Tomorrow will be a tough one, they’re both very good players. We’ll have to play very well to win that match. It’ll be a tough one but you go in, try to make a few putts here and there and then you never know with this format.”

It was a shot on 12 that gave Kennedy and Burdick the lead, one they didn’t surrender from that point on. 

The two teams split birdies on six and seven before Kennedy and Burdick went ahead on eight with a par. That score stayed that way until 12, when Kennedy and Burdick eagled from 60 yards out to go three shots up, one that proved to be the difference in the match. 

In a tournament like this, Kennedy feels having a good relationship with his partner plays a huge difference. 

“You have your partner, you can fly at pins a little more and be more aggressive with your putting,” Kennedy said. “You and your partner have to work well together. There’s going to be times when you’re out of a hole or he’s out of a hole and the other needs to step up. It’s certainly a team, nobody can win a match on their own without your teammate helping you out.” 

Nobody hit a better shot on Friday than Jared Barber. Taking on No. 4 Cody Booska and Dennis Booska — 2020 runner ups — No. 13 Jared Barber and his father, Hugh Barber, knew they had to get out to a quick start. 

They did just that on the second hole, as Jared nailed an ace, giving them momentum for the rest of the round and ultimately pulling off the upset to move on to the quarterfinals on Saturday. 

“I hit a good drive on one,” Jared Barber said. “Then I didn’t hit a very good wedge. I was going to two and kicking myself a little bit. It was playing into the wind, I hit it with an 8-iron from 147. I could see it take one bounce and it started spinning back and it went in. It was pretty exciting. That’s the fifth hole-in-one I’ve seen since August last year. That was the only one I’ve had during that stretch, I was bridesmaid quite a bit. Luckily, I was the one making it today.”

The father-son duo knows how to play with each other, an advantage in the four-ball style tournament. 

“I’m not as long of a hitter as Jared but f I hit one in the middle, he can go for it,” Hugh Barber said. “It worked out well for us today. He hit several drives and ripped apart holes. We got a good start and built upon it. We never let them get back into it.”

Jared and Hugh Barber move on to take on No. 12 Doug Riel and Tim McKenna, who defeated No. 5 Chris Ferriter and Joe Wilson on Friday. 

Rounding out the winners in the Championship Flight on Friday included No. 1 Matt Grayson and Paul Denofrio keeping their hopes of repeating as champions alive with a win over No. 16 Kevin Bagge and Mike Lavalle. 

Grayson and Denofrio will take on No. 9 David Donoghue and Sam Wolanske, who defeated No. 8 John Soltys and Ryan Cote. The match will feature the last two winning pairs in the tournament. 

The final quarterfinal match on Saturday will be between No. 7 Garrett Hasanbasic and Jason Goodhind and No. 15 Christopher Bourbeau and Garrett Cousineau. Hasanbasic and Goodhind beat No. 10 Alec Meikle and Derek Hoy while Bourbeau and Cousineau pulled off the upset over No. 2 Jarrod Goss and KC Finley, who had posted the top score during Thursday’s qualifying round. 

The quarterfinals will begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday, followed by the semifinals. The championship round is on Sunday beginning at 1:32 p.m. 

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