EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ~ Collin Morikawa does not like to pay much attention to the various services that compile rankings of the best amateur golfers in the world. That could change after what he did over the last four days at Wannamoisett Country Club.
The Cal All-American added to his already impressive resume when he won the 56th Northeast Amateur. He began the final day with a one-stroke lead over fellow All-American Doug Ghim of Texas, birdied the first hole and never lost the top spot.
He finished with an even-par 69 that gave him a 11-under 265 total, two shots better than Shintaro Ban of UNLV and Theo Humphrey of Vanderbilt. Ban closed with the best round of the tournament, a 7-under 62, while Humphrey posted a 68 on a day delayed for three hours by rain.
Morikawa’s 11-under total ties for third best in tournament history, behind Peter Uihlein’s record 15-under in 2011.
Depending on which rating service is used, Morkawa began the week anywhere from third to sixth in the world rankings. Obviously, the numbers will only get better after what he did at Wannamoisett.
``I do glance at the rankings,’’ he said. ``But you can’t really think about those things. You have to go out and play.’’
Morikawa had been the top ranked amateur in the world briefly earlier this year, but lost that spot to NCAA Champion Baden Thornberry. Thornberry also beat Morikawa in a playoff for the Sunnehanna Championship just last week in Pennsylvania. He withdrew from the Northeast after his Sunnehanna victory. In the last two years, Morikawa has won the Trans-Miss Amateur, the Silicon Valley Amateur, the Sunnehanna in 2016 and the ASU Thunderbird Invitational. After helping the United States win the Palmer Cup earlier this summer, he appears all but certain to have a spot on the Walker Cup team later this year. He is not taking that for granted.
``I’ve still got three big tournaments to play this summer,’’ he said.
Where Morikawa had risen to the top of the leaderboard with superb play in setting a tournament scoring record through the first three rounds, he earned the title more with a display of grit than flat-out talent.
``I missed five of my first six greens, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy day out there,’’ he said. ``I just didn’t have my entire game out there. . . When I was making up-and-downs to save par all day, those are the ones that really count. I’m glad I found a way to win today.’’
``To be part of the history of the Northeast is fantastic,’’ he said.
Morikawa began the day with a one-stroke lead and birdied the first hole. Ghim, who was in second, bogeyed, so Morikawa quickly was up by three. The lead varied between one and three the rest of the day. Ghim was the closest competitor much of the way but he bogeyed three of the last four to finish at 8-under and in fourth place.
While most of the attention was on the final group, UNLV’s Ban made many shake their head as they checked the final scoreboard. He came flying up the leaderboard as he posted the low round of the tournament, a 7-under 62, to surge into the tie for second at 9-under.
``I was never really in position (to win). All I could think was just give it my best. I’ve been on the road a long time never had a day to finish strong in a tournament. So today is a big momentum kind of thing,’’ Ban said. His round equals his career best. He had a 62 in the ASU Thunderbird tournament.
``It’s a really stacked field. The Northeast Amateur is a really good one. I’m glad I played here instead of going back home to play a tournament, Ban said. ``I’m glad I’m back here.’’
Morikawa made sure Ban’s performance was not enough by making a host of scrambling pars. That went all the way to the end. He missed the green on the 456-yard, par-4 closing hole for the fourth straight time. And for the fourth straight day, he was able to get up-and-down for par, chipping to four feet and making the putt to clinch perhaps the biggest title yet in his terrific young career.
The tournament was completed despite a heavy early morning rain storm, the remnants of tropical storm Cindy. Play began at 8 a.m., as scheduled, but had to be halted about a half hour later when the storm arrived.
The course received six-tenths of an inch of rain in two hours, bringing on standing water in several areas of the course, including the low-lying second green. Play resumed at 11:30 a.m. with much better conditions for the players. The greens were soft, the winds were down and the humidity was on the way down, as well.
The biggest problem was that the delay caused travel problems for a number of players who had booked flights for late afternoon and early evenings.
Another record breaking day at the Northeast Amateur as Collin Morikawa puts on display thru 3 rounds of the 56th Northeast Amateur
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ~ Collin Morikawa and Doug Ghim have been spending a lot of time together in the last several weeks and they will do it again on Saturday at Wannamoisett Country Club, this time under special circumstances.
They will play in the final group as they compete for the championship of the 56th Northeast Amateur.
The two All-Americans _ Morikawa plays for Cal Berkley and Ghim for the University of Texas _ put on another display of big-league golf in Friday’s third round to move to the top of the leaderboard. As they have since opening day, they are breaking tournament records along the way.
Morikawa recorded a 3-under par 66 over the 6,732-yard layout and stands at 12-under 195. No one has ever been that low through three rounds. Peter Uihlein had the record at 196 in 2011. Still as well as Morikawa has played, he will carry only a one-stroke lead into Saturday’s finale.
His new good buddy, Ghim, continued to hang with him. Ghim was tied with Morikawa until bogeying the 18th hole. He settled for a 67 and 196 total. It is three strokes back to midway leader Theo Humphrey in third place at 199 after a 71. Chandler Phillips moved up to fourth at 7-under 200, thanks to a third-round 66. No one else is within nine shots of the lead.
Overall scoring went up in round three, but the leaders barely seemed to notice. They have put on one of the great displays through three rounds in tournament history. So far, Morikawa and Ghim are acting more like friends than rivals.
Because of weather concerns, tournament officials decided to have the players compete in threesomes over the final rival, rather than twosomes as have been used all week. That means the top three will play together.
``We’re all playing well,’’ Ghim said. ``I’m excited with the pairings, excited to play with Collin again.’’
``It should be fun, said Morikawa of the final day. He, like Ghim, played round three wearing one of his Palmer Cup team shirts. ``We've played some good golf this week but we’ve still got one round to go.’’
Morikawa was as happy with his 66 as his 64 and 65 the first two days.
``I’m really pleased with the 66 today. The conditions were a lot harder, tougher pins and a little windier,’’ he said. ``I kept the ball in play.’’
Ghim was a bit more up and down. He finally made his first bogey of the week on the par-3 8th, which played 202 yards dead into the wind. He had four birdies as he was helped along by his caddie, his father, Jeff. Jeff Ghim is working for his son even though he has a sprained ankle and is noticeably hobbling along. Doug Ghim spoke about how his father has a positive attitude and keeps him in a good frame of mind.
While he lost his share of the lead with his bogey on the last hole, Ghim kept a positive attitude even there.
``I hit a bad first shot, bad second shot, bad third shot, bad fourth shot,’’ he said. He still had a considerable putt for bogey.
``Very rarely can you say you made a good bogey. I was staring at double in the face,’’ he said. ``To make a good putt keeps the momentum. To make that putt was big.’’
In the 55 year history of the Northeast, only seven players have ever finished double-digits under par. Peter Uihlein has the record at 15-under 261 in 2011. Four of the seven players who have reached double digits played in 2011. James White finished second at 12-under, Blayne Barber shot 11-under 265 and Patrick Rodgers 10-under.
The others with the low scores were Dan Woltman, when he won at 11-under in 2009, Cory Whitsett won at 10-under in 2013 and Hunter Stewart took the title in 2015, also at 10-under.
The leaders tee off at 9:40 on Saturday.
Record Setting Performance Pushes Humphrey to the Top at 10 Under Par After Round 2
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ~ There are still two rounds remaining in the Northeast Amateur, but the theme for the year has been established. The 56th annual event at Wannamoisett Country Club is about birdies this year, with more eagles than usual thrown in, as well. And most of all, it is about low scores.
The strong field, led by a host of All-Americans, put up red numbers all over the place in Thursday’s second round. Theo Humphrey, a Connecticut native who was one of the stars of Vanderbilt’s national semifinalists this year, led the onslaught.
He followed up his opening 65 in afternoon winds on Wednesday by going two better in calmer morning conditions, posting a 6-under 63 over the 6,732-yard course. His two-day total of 10-under 128 is the lowest ever at the Northeast. Jordan Russell of College Station, Tex., had the previous mark of 129 (63-66) in 2012. He eventually lost in a playoff for the title to Justin Shin.
As well as Humphrey played, his work was good enough for only a one-stroke lead over a pair of All-Americans, Doug Ghim and Collin Morikawa. Ghim matched Humphrey for the best round of a day with a 63 that included an eagle from 160 yards on the par-4 ninth hole. Ghim has not made a bogey in the two days.
Morikawa also came in at 129 thanks to a second-round 65. He briefly pulled into a tie with Humphrey at 10-under but bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall one behind.
The average score for the day was an unheard of 69.8. Twenty-eight the 92 players are at par or better through 36 holes. All this on the course most agree that is the most difficult in Rhode Island.
This year, though, the players have been helped by the fact that the Wannamoisett greens are not quite as fast as in past years because of a turf disease that forced the closure on the greens through mid-May. What’s more, there was rain on Tuesday, preventing the greens from becoming as firm as they are in most years.
As well as Humphrey played in earning the lead, the wildest display of the day was turned in by the two guys tied for second. Morikawa and Ghim played in the same twosome. They are among the most accomplished players in the field, both in the top six in the world amateur rankings.
Morikawa, a star at Cal who is from Flintridge, Cal., was number one for a time before being passed by NCAA Champion Braden Thornberry of Mississippi. Ghim is a University of Texas standout who lives in Arlington Heights, Ill. Both are playing this week with their USA golf bags, given them last month when they helped the United States win the Palmer Cup matches with Europe at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
They put on one of the most impressive displays ever at the Northeast, especially on the front nine. Morikawa birdied 3, 5, 7 and 9 for a 30 on the front. Ghim birdied 1 and 4 and holed out with an eight-iron from 160 yards on nine for eagle, which gave him a 30, as well. If they had been playing as a team, they would have had a 7-under 27. A 27 might happen at par-3 Firefly down the street, but it is outlandish at Wannamoisett.
Ghim did not stop there. He birdied 10 and 11, too, to go to 6-under on the day. Morikawa got in a rutt, going three straight holes with “only’’ a par before making bird on 13 to get to 10-under for the tournament and in a tie for first with Humphrey. The two finally slowed coming down the stretch, but still finished with a best ball of 59, even both settling for pars on the par-5 17th, the easiest hole on the course.
“We had a great time,’’ Morikawa said. “We both played pretty well yesterday and we were able to come out today and keep it going. We really fed off each other. Seeing good golf out there is always good to see.’’
“The goal for today was to play a solid round and get in position for, I guess you could say, the weekend,’’ Ghim offered. “Collin and I both played on the Palmer Cup two weeks and got to know each other pretty well there. . . It was cool to feed off each other.’’
Humphrey, who is from Greenwich, Ct., did not have to share the spotlight with anyone in the morning. He is at the Northeast for the third year in a row. He finished in the top 20 in each of his first two visits. He feels at home at Wannamoisett.
“I’ve played good here the last two years. I’ve just had a really bad nine both times. Other than that, I could have been in contention to win both years. I don’t feel my results show how well I have played here,’’ he said. “I feel comfortable out here. I’m from the northeast. I like this type of golf course.’’
What made his day rewarding, Humphrey said, was that he actually struggled hitting the ball for the first few holes. But he was able to save par and made one 15-footer for bird, then settled down and piled up seven birds with only one bogey for his 63.
All 92 players return Friday. A cut to the low 55 and ties will be made after the third round.Through the first two days there have been more birdies made, 298, than bogeys, 272.
Northeast Amateur Chairman and Rhode Islander Bobby Leopold Join
Dan Yorke's 'State of Mind' to Preview 56th Northeast Amateur
New Zealand's Nick Voke (Iowa State '17) Leads After Round 1
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ~ Nick Voke is on a hot streak these days, and his strong play continued Wednesday in the first round of the 56th Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club.
Voke, a recent graduate of Iowa State who hails from New Zealand, led an onslaught on par at the old Donald Ross-designed course, posting a 6-under 63. He had seven birdies, three of them deuces on par-3s.
He needed all of them to be in the lead by himself. Collin Morikawa, a first-team All-American at the University of California and member of the United States Palmer Cup team, was second with a 64 that included an eagle when he spun his approach from 92 yards back into the cup on the 391-yard, par-four 11th.
Another All-American, Scottie Scheffler of Texas, followed up his low amateur performance at the U.S. Open last week by tying for third at 4-under 65. Clemson All-American Doc Redman and Vanderbilt star Theo Humphrey also had 65s. Reigning Rhode Island Amateur champion Davis Chatfield, a Wannamoisett member, was the low area player with a 67.
In all, 35 of the 92 starters shot par or better. The majority of the low scores were posted early on when the winds were light and the greens softer than usual because of rain on Tuesday. Voke was among those in the early wave who took advantage. He came in on a roll, having finished third at last week’s Sunnehanna Amateur, one stroke out of a playoff for the title. That followed a first-place finish in the Texas Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
"It was a good day,’’ Voke said. ``I got off to a pretty hot start. I holed a putt on the first hole and chipped in on the third, so I was 2-under quick,’’ he said. He birdied 11, 12, 13 and 15 to make it a special round.
I was feeling good and my game is in a good spot,’’ he said.
Voke, who tied for fifth at the Northeast two years ago, is delaying turning pro for two reasons. He wants to play the amateur circuit for a final summer and he also is taking time to do an internship. A kinesiology major, he is interested in a possible career as a chiropractor. He has arranged to do an internship with a chiropractor later this summer.
Morikawa also picked up where he left off last week. He lost the Sunnehanna title in a playoff. The resident of La Canada Flintridge, Cal., has moved to third in the world amateur rankings after earlier being number one.
Another highlight of the opening day was that it also included what is believed to be a first in the Northeast’s 56-year history, and a first in the more than century old Wannamoisett annals, as well.
Ben Wolcott, a junior at the University of Mississippi, made back-to-back eagles on 16 and 17. He had been 4-over through 15, including a pair of double bogeys earlier on the back nine. But he holed out a wedge from 135 yards on the par-4 16th, then reached the green from 282 yards on the par-5 17th. His shot ended four feet from the hole and he made that one, too. So, in the span of two holes he went from 4-over to even.
His feat was unheard of previously because Wannamoisett has only one par-5. The 17th annually gives up some eagles. But few eagles are made elsewhere, so having eagles on back-to-back holes simply is unheard of.
"I know it’s never been done in the Northeast,’’ said Bill Lunnie, the former director of the Northeast and a long time Wannamoisett member. "And I don’t think it’s ever been done at this course.’’
Scheffler was among the others putting himself in good position after the first day. The University of Texas All-American, who turned 20 on Wednesday, was a late arrival. He had travel issues after finishing as low amateur in last week’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills. He did not arrive until midnight Monday at the home of the Conley family, his hosts for the last four years.
"I kind of slept in Tuesday,’’ he said. He did limited prep work but was back in stride well enough to record six birdies and two bogeys for an opening 65.
Scheffler spoke about the difference going from the 7,800-yard Open to the 6,700-yard Northeast.
"There it’s long and open,’’ he said. "Here it’s all about precision.’’
Auburn star Jacob Solomon provided another highlight with an ace on the third hole.
"It was 144 yards dead into the wind,’’ Solomon said. ``It was playing more like 160, so I hit eight iron.’’
"With the pin way back, it was as tough as that hole plays,’’ said Brad Valois, the four-time Rhode Island Amateur champion who was his playing partner. "It hit about a foot behind the hole and spun back in.’’
"That’s a memory,’’ Solomon said. Solomon finished with a 66 that also included birds on each of the last two holes.
The stroke average for the day was 70.6. No records are kept in that department, but that is thought to be the lowest one-day number in tournament history.
Fred Wedel (Pepperdine '16) Holds Off Talented Field to Win 55th Northeast Amateur
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ~ When he thinks about the decisions he has made in his life, the one Fred Wedel made to delay turning pro for a few months likely will go down as one of his best ever.
Wedel graduated from Pepperdine last month after compiling one of the best careers ever for a Wave golfer. But rather than turn professional as so many of his contemporaries do, he opted to remain an amateur at least until the U.S. Am at the end of the summer.
Unlike so many others who compete on the national amateur circuit, he does not come from money. He had to spend a summer caddying after his freshman year at Peppedine to earn enough money to stay in school. His best friend’s family, the Hollingers from The Woodlands, Tex., are paying all his expenses to allow him to travel to different events this summer.
``I wanted to wait (to turn pro) because I felt like I wanted to play these amateur events one more time. I didn’t want to play mini tour events,’’ he said. ``I love coming to places like this. It really is special.’’
Wedel made it even more special for himself on Saturday when he won the 55th Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club. He shot a closing 2-under 67 for a total of 6-under 270 and survived a wild scramble at the finish that saw six players within one stroke of the lead heading down the stretch.
All the contenders struggled coming home, including Wedel. He bogeyed both 17, after driving into the water, and 18, after driving into the trees. However even with those problems, he was able to win because of the six birdies he made earlier in the day. He did not have the victory until Southern Cal’s Sean Crocker missed a four-foot putt on 18 for bogey. Crocker, the highest rated player in the field, three-putted each of the last two holes for a 70 and 271 total. Patrick Martin, a Vanderbilt sophomore, also tied for second after a closing 69.
Wedel had mixed feelings when he watched Crocker miss the four-footer that could have forced a playoff. Wedel signed his scorecard then headed out to watch Crocker finish.
``I hate to win a tournament that way. We’re very close. We both go to school in Southern California. I actually played with him in his first tournament (for USC) for 36 holes,’’ Wedel said. ``He’s a friend.’’
Those who have followed Wedel’s life and golf career know he was entitled to a good break. When he was 10 years old, his father became ill. It turned out to be an infection of his spinal cord. He became, and still is, a quadriplegic.
His dad, also named Fred, had introduced him to golf with a cut down 7-iron.
The situation was devastating. Wedel spoke about how he quit playing golf for several years and was never one of the top rated juniors. His father now lives near Sacremento, Cal., and his mother in Portland, Ore. Wedel has gotten better each of his four years at Pepperdine _ ``Paradise,’’ as he called the school on the California coast.
His victory at Wannamoisett was his second in a week. He won the Texas Amateur last week. He has been through so much that he has a maturity beyond his years in dealing with pressure. He spoke in detail about what it was like going through the pressure of being in contention at such a big tournament for the first time in his life.
``I’ve never felt this way before. I’ve never been in position to win a tournament of this magnitude,’’ he offered. ``It was difficult for me to handle my emotions. . . It’s hard for you not to get ahead of yourself when you’re just a few shots away from winning an event like this.’’
He was not sure where he stood over the final holes, but he did hear someone in the crowd say he was three strokes ahead as he was playing 17.
``I heard that but I kind of blocked it out,’’ he said. On 17, he drove into the water.
``The nerves got the best of me on that one. I don’t even know what happened there. I let one get away from me there,’’ he said. ``I don’t think anything really prepares you for how you feel on the last four, five six holes in a tournament like this. I tried to draw on previous experience of playing well and hitting good quality golf shots and stay in a positive mental said. But like I said, it’s really difficult to handle your emotions and just hit one shot at a time. Your hands are shaking. You are thinking about potential misses. You see more trouble.’’
Everyone else did, too, allowing Wedel to come away with the biggest victory of his life. He is in the process of trying to arrange sponsors for a pro career. He expects to turn pro after The US Amateur in August, although that could change.
``I keep joking that it might be after The Masters,’’ he said. Winning the US Amateur would get him a spot at August.
Gilchrest Holds Lead; Pereira 1 Back Heading Into Final Round
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ~ Matt Gilchrest could have been upset with the way his day ended Friday in the third round of the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club. But he chose not to be. He kept smiling even, after seeing what had been a four-stroke lead cut to one in his last two holes.
Gilchrest, a senior from Auburn who has held or shared the lead after every round, built his advantage to four strokes with only two to play. But he pulled his three-wood approach on the par-5 17th, lost the ball and made double-bogey seven. He had more tree troubles on the closing hole and bogeyed that one, too.
He finished with an even-par 69 for an 8-under 199 total, one ahead of University of Washington senior Corey Pereira, and two ahead of Southern Cal star Sean Crocker. Crocker had the lowest score of the day, a 65, while Pereira had 67. Because of Gilchrest’s troubles at the end, nine others are within five strokes of the lead creating for what should be a wide open finish on Saturday.
Gilchrest, who is from Southlake, Tex., had displayed an outgoing, engaging personality after opening with back-to-back 65s. He refused to change after the tough finish in the third round.
"I’m ahead. There’s a lot of emotion about the highs and lows today,’’ he said. ``It’s easy to complain and dwell on some mistakes, but you know what, everyone else in the field wishes they were ahead. That’s not boasting. I’ve got to be really positive. I’ve played a lot of good golf. I had one swing get away from me, basically, in three days.
"If I could take one bad swing tomorrow I’d take that right now, not even knowing the outcome. I couldn’t be more positive even though it’s natural in golf to let what happened affect how you feel,’’ he added. ``That would be silly. That would really put me in a bad position. I’m really excited to play golf tomorrow.’’
Gilchrest, who had made four birdies and one bogey before the finish, felt even his one bad shot was not really all that bad. He hit a good drive on the 558-yard hole, the only par-5 on the course and decided to go for the green with a three-wood.
"Any time you’re into the wind you’re under a microscope. It’s going to bend more,’’ Gilchrest said. He pulled his shot left toward the fence that guards the end of the course.
"We all thought it was in, but it must have hit a tree and gone out,’’ he said.
Pereira earned a spot in the final twosome with Gilchrest with his 67. He made only one bogey _ on the last hole. The native of Cameron Park, Calif., is playing the event for the second year.
"I putted really well,’’ he said. ``Curse knowledge helped me with strategy. . . I’m a competitive guy. I look forward to go out there and competing, giving it everything I have tomorrow.’’
Rarely has the national and international flavor of the Northeast been more obvious than it is this year. With one round left, it looks as if the winner will come from Texas or California. Or maybe Honolulu, Hawaii, or Malibu, Cal. Then again, players as close as Connecticut and New York, or as far away as Zimbabwe have put themselves in position to win, as well.
The common thread, of course, is that all of them are college stars. In addition to Auburn’s Gilchrest, Washington’s Pereira and Southern Cal’s Crocker, Matthew Lowe is from Farmingdale, N.Y., and plays for Richmond and Patrick Martin is a Vanderbilt star from Birmingham, Ala. They are tied for fourth at 5-under.
Crocker adds international flavor _ along with massive power. The native of Zimbabwe grew up in Southern California. He had the best round of the day with his 65 after going 69-67 in the first two days. Crocker, who already has won the Monroe Invitational this summer, did something Thursday no one has ever done at the course. He tried to drive the green at the 372-yard, dogleg fifth hole. His shot landed just short and bounced on the green, but then rolled back into the hollow in front of the green. He two-putted for bird.
Still, he and everyone else will be chasing Gilchrest in the final round.
"There will be some nerves. There were some nerves today,’’ Gilchrest said. ``But I think I’m having the most fun out of anyone here. I’ve got a great caddie. It’s a great venue. I’m having a blast. I had some fun today I will have some more fun tomorrow. That’s about the only goal I have right now.’’
Gilchrest Leads Field with 30 Players Under Par Following round 2
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ~ The college stars who dominate the Northeast Amateur every year display some great examples of the drive and desire, as well as ability, needed to reach golf’s top level. On Thursday, Matt Gilchrest provided one of the best demonstrations that anyone could want to see of that type of personality.
Gilchrest, a star at Auburn who lives in Southlake, Tex., went out with the early starters at Wannamoisett and put together his second straight 4-under-par 65. His 8-under 130 total not only gave him the lead by two. It is one of the lowest scores in the tournament’s 55-year history.
So how did he react?
``I was really battling my swing on my back nine. I’ve got to go out and practice,’’ he said. ``I was scrambling out there to make pars.’’
There was not even a thought about resting on his laurels. He thinks he could play even better. Gilchrest did birdie two of his last three holes, his fifth and six birds of the day to give him 12 in the first two days of the 72-hole event. But there was no celebrating. He was ready to head out and do more work, although he did talk about how he was happy to do it.
``I was happy to be here last year when I finished 40th,’’ he said. ``How can you not be happy out here? I’m at this 130-year-old place that’s beautiful. Just look at it out here. How can you not enjoy yourself?’’
Gilchrest’s performance was part of a history making day. Given windless conditions much of the way and soft greens from early-week rain, players did things never before seen in the tournament. Like how about two holes-in-one on the same day?
It happened in round two thanks to 16-year-old Texan Noah Goodwin and Duke senior Max Greyserman.
Goodwin, one of the top rated juniors in the country (he celebrated his 16th birthday last week), picked a great time to get his first ace, even if he did have a wait a couple minutes to realize he did it. He registered it with a 4-iron on the 214-yard 15th hole. It helped him on his way to a 65 on the day, a 132 total and second place.
Goodwin was in the second group off the tee, starting on the back side. He was 1-under on the day when he got to the uphill 15th. Players cannot see the green from the tee and there was no one around the green. His shot headed toward the pin.
``As we were walking toward the green I took out his putter and went to give it to him,’’ said his father, Dr. Jeff Goodwin, who was caddying for him. ``He said, `Dad, I might not need it.’ ‘’
``I knew I had hit a good shot,’’ said Noah Goodwin, who already has committed to SMU even though he still has two years of high school remaining. As the twosome approached the green there was only one ball visible.
``I was afraid he might have gone over,’’ Jeff Goodwin related. His son did not agree. He went directly to the cup. And saw his ball at the bottom. The ace helped Goodwin to a 65 on the day and a 6-under 132 total and second place.
When word of Goodwin’s ace got around, officials tried to research the last ace in the tournament.
``I asked Denny Glass (the former tournament director) and he could not remember any,’’ said Ben Tuthill, who is in his third year at tournament director. Tuthill went to Bob Ward, the RIGA’s executive director, and Ward could not recall a Northeast ace, either.
No one had to wait long for another ace. About three hours later, Greyserman, who has been the runner-up in the past year in both the New Jersey Amateur and the New Jersey Open, had another one. His came on the 211-yard 12th hole, the hole course designer Donald Ross once call ``the finest one-shot hole in America.’’
Greyserman hit a 5-iron that landed pin high, about 12 feet right of the hole. The pin was near the bottom of the bowl shaped green and the ball took a right-hand turn, as expected, and went in the hole. It was the third of his career for Greyserman. It helped him get as low as 4-under for the round, but he finished at level-par 69 for a 137 total.
Four-time Rhode Island Amateur champion Brad Valois, who was in the afternoon half of the field and breezes began blowing, got as low as 6-under and in the tie for second with Goodwin. He finished with a 72 for 137.
Brandon Pierce, an LSU star, contributed to fun. He was tied for last after the first day with a 79, without a birdie. He went out Thursday and improved his score by a whopping 15 strokes. His 64 meant he went from tied for highest score one day to the lowest score the next day.
The scoring average among the 92 players was 70 for the second straight day, unheard at Wannamoisett. In other years a player who was at even midway through the tournament was in contention to win. This year, that score left a player in a tie for 31st.
Rhode Island's Brad Valois Among 4 Tied For Round 1 Lead
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ~ Officially, the 55th annual Northeast Amateur Invitational Tournament began Wednesday at Wannamoisett Country Club. According to at least one tournament veteran, though, it was almost as if this was a brand new tournament on a very different golf course.
``It’s not playing like Wannamoisett,’’ said four-time Rhode Island champion Brad Valois. ``It’s soft. The rough is not as high as it usually is. The greens are fast for a normal country club, but they’re not Northeast fast.’’
The bottom line is that the old Donald Ross-designed course was dramatically softened by a huge storm Tuesday morning that brought a half inch of rain in about 15 minutes. That made the course vulnerable for 90 of the world’s best amateurs and they took advantage, posting lower scores than usual, some of the lowest overall scores ever.
Valois helped lead the way. He went out in the third group off the tee in the morning and posted a 4-under 65 to tie for the lead despite a bogey on his final hole, the 18th. Several players got lower than that at one point in their rounds, but no one was able to beat the 65. Three others did match it to tie Valois for the lead.
Dawson Armstrong of Brentwood, Tenn., the 13th ranked amateur in the world, John Flaherty, a recent University of Connecticut grad, and Matt Gilchrist, one of four Auburn stars in the event, all posted 65s. There were five more at 66 and nine more at 67 on the 6,732-yard, par-69 layout. The scoring average for the field was 70.3, thought to be unheard in tournament history.
In other years, a player who shot 70 usually was in good position. On this day, it meant he was in a tie for 42nd.
Armstrong, a star at Lipscomb University in Nashville, had one of the wildest 65s in tournament history. Armstrong, who not only is playing in New England for the first time _ ``This is the first time I’ve ever been in this part of the country,’’ he said _ fired his way to 7-under through his first 14 holes, putting him in range of the course record. His early work included holing out from 60 yards on the par-4 14th for eagle (He began on the back nine).
Armstrong had a memorable finish for the wrong reasons. He bogeyed six and seven, his 15th and 16th holes. Then, on the 453-yard ninth hole, he hit his approach on the green. But on the wrong green. He ended up about 30 yards left and long of where he wanted to be, on the 18th green. He called over rules official Brian Harbour to ask what he should do. Harbour did not realize at first what the problem was.
``I told him, `Nice shot. He was about 20 feet from the pin,’’ Harbour related. ``Then he told me it was the wrong green.’’
Armstrong had to go to the far side of the green, even farther away from the ninth, and take a drop. He pitched just short of the green, then got up and down from there for a bogey and his 65. Armstrong, an outgoing, engaging personality, took his crazy day in stride, even smiling about everything that happened with the disappointing finish. He already has won four college tournaments, led his Lipscomb team into the NCAA Regionals and finished second earlier this month in the Tennessee Open.
Valois had a more normal 65. He had five birdies and did not have a five on his card until his last hole, the ninth. There he took three to get down for his only bogey of the day.
Flaherty overcame a double-bogey six on the fourth hole on his way to 65. The double came when he casually tapped in his first missed putt, but saw that one lip out. Flaherty made up for it with six birdies, including four in a row beginning at the 11th.
Gilchrist was one of the last players to begin and had to deal with changing conditions that included a 45 minute delay because of threatening weather conditions. He had played only four and one-half holes before the delay.
While he plays for Auburn, he is from Southlake, Tex. He is playing at Wannamoisett rather than in his Texas Amateur.
``When you get an invitation to play here, it’s not a tough decision on what to do,’’ he said. ``It wasn’t a tough decision. This is one of the best amateur tournaments with an elite field.’’
Stories of players doing things not usually done at Wannamoisett happened all over the course.
Sean Crocker, a Southern Cal star who won the long drive competition in Tuesday’s am-am drove the green at the 372-yard 5th hole on the way to shooting 69. His round also included an eagle on the par-4 11th.
Rhode Island Interscholastic League champion Will Dickson suffered double bogies on two of his first six holes. Yet he recovered to post even-par 69.
Six holes, five on the back side, played under par.
55th Northeast Amateur Ready to Tee Off
Ben Tuthill joins The Wrap with Mark Dondero on WPRI Channel 12.
55th Northeast Amateur Ready to Tee Off
54th Northeast Amateur Final Results
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI ~ Hunter Stewart can begin making plans to spend time in England in September.
The first-team All-American at Vanderbilt all but wrapped up a spot on this year’s United States Walker Cup team on Saturday when he swept to victory in the 54th Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club.
Stewart began the day in a tie for the lead and pulled away as he rolled to a 4-under 65 and won by four over Baylor All-American Kyle Jones. Stewart had birdies on 6 and 7 to begin taking control then turned it into a romp with birds at 13, 14 and 15.
“I won the Players (Amateur) a couple years ago. I’ve won a couple big college events, but this is right there at the top with them,’’ he said. “Its’ definitely one of the majors of amateurs golf. It’s a privilege to win this event. It’s a great honor.’’
Stewart came in ranked either third or fourth in the nation in amateur rankings, depending on which rankings are used. He joined Brandt Snedeker, who is having a big week just up the road in The Travelers Championship, as the only first-team All-Americans ever at Vanderbilt. He already has represented the United States in the Palmer Cup matches for collegians and looked to be in good shape to make the Walker Cup team even before play began in the Northeast.
With what he did at Wanamoisett, he is now all but a sure thing for coach Spider Miller’s team. Miller was at Wannamoisett taking in the action to help select his squad for the match at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England, Sept. 12-13. Miller, in fact, followed Stewart for part of both the second and third rounds. Stewart would not focus on his chances, although he made it clear the Walker Cup is his goal. It is the reason he will not turn pro until the fall.
“I know this doesn’t hurt my chances. I’ve just got to keep playing solid golf,’’ he said.
“It’s kind of what I’ve been working for for two years now. Any time you have an opportunity (to represent your country) it’s truly an honor. To do it at the Palmer Cup was pretty special. People have told me that the Walker Cup is even more special than that. It’s one of the highest honors in amateur golf. It’s the culmination of two solid years of play. It would be a validation of the last year and a half or two years,’’ he said.
Entering the final round in a tie for the lead presents many players with a challenge all by itself. Stewart said he learned from last week, when he was one shot off the lead at the midway point at Sunnehanna.
"I watched the scoreboards and I ended up tied for eighth. Watching the scoreboard just doesn’t work for me,’’ he related. "Here I kept my head down and just focused on playing golf the way I know how."
"I had complete control today," he said. "I was pleased how I was able to do it."Stewart, who lives in Nicholasville, Ky., and is an admitted UK hoop fanatic (along with Vanderbilt), has actually cut back on his swing to control his game better. A rugged, strongly built guy, he now wants to win with control, not power.
"This is a special place. The golf course is in fantastic condition. It's just a really fun track with lots of tough short shots, which is something I love," he said. "I love a golf course with tough short shots and this golf course presents a lot of those."
The one player who ended up giving Stewart the toughest challenge was Jones.
The Baylor All-America, who came to Wannamoisett directly from the U.S. Open, closed with a sparkling 63 to surge into second. He began the day in a tie for 12th, six off the lead, and put together a bogey-free round with three birdies on each side.
He was not surprised that it was not enough to catch Stewart.
“I knew with Hunter out front, he’s such a solid player, he was going to have a good day today,’’ Jones said. “I knew he was going to have a good day.’’
Jones had an interesting take on his last two events, having come in from Chambers Bay.“Going from Chambers Bay to this, it’s the two ends of the world,’’ he said. “Chambers Bay, you’ve heard all about it about how hard it was and about the greens. But for me, it was my first Open. I really enjoyed it.
“Coming here I looked out on the course and thought, `Man it’s really nice to see green grass again. . . The greens here are pure,’’ he said.
Jones, also a Palmer Cup selection, is very much in the picture for a Walker Cup team as well. His fate likely will depend on what happens over the next month. Stewart, on the other hand, is all but home free.
54th Northeast Amateur Round 3 Recap
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ It is all but assured, even with one round to go, that the winner of the 54th Northeast Amateur will be a rising college star with a strong pedigree.
The third round of the event Friday at Wannamoisett Country Club shook up the leaderboard considerably and ended with six quality players young leading the way.
The co-leaders at 6-under 201 are Hunter Stewart of Vanderbilt and Michael Johnson of Auburn. Stewart, who is the highest rated player in the field _ he is either number three or four in the nation depending on which rankings you check _ recorded his third straight round in the 60s, a 66, to move into a tie for the lead.
Johnson, an Auburn star who is back again among the best after missing time because of a hip injury, already has set one record. He compiled a bogey-free 67 in the third round for his 201 total, the second straight day he has handled the demanding conditions without a bogey. Records are not kept in that category, but he is thought to be the first player ever to go two straight days without a bogey in tournament history. He has gone 41 holes overall, going back to the 14th hole in round one, without a bogey.
As well as Stewart and Johnson have played, they have plenty of competition. Zachary Bauchou, who just graduated from high school in Forest, Va., and is headed to Oklahoma State in the fall, is one behind after a 66. His play included a near hole-in-one on the par-4 14th where his drive over water across the dogleg hole hit the pin and came to rest one foot from the hole.
Nick Voke, an easy-going Iowa State star is providing the international flavor that the event often has. Voke, who is from New Zealand, joined Stewart as the only player with three rounds in the 60s to get within one shot of the lead and in a tie with Bauchou. Voke posted a 68 that included three birds in his last five holes.
Cameron Champ, a Texas A&M star from Sacramento, Cal., is thought to be the longest hitter in the field. Even on a course that is considered relatively short for these players at 6,732 yards, Champ has displayed the all-around game to put himself very much in contention. He recorded a 67 to get to 203, only two behind.
Scottie Scheffler, a former US Junior Champion and an All-American at the University of Texas this year, completes a highly attractive top six. He moved into a tie for the lead at one point before settling for a 70 and 204 total three behind the leaders.
As if all that is not enough, the defending champion, Stewart Jolly of LSU, remains in contention four shots off the lead with a 69 and in a tie with Adam Ball at 205.
The Northeast prides itself in the quality of its former champions, with a list that includes John Cook, Hal Sutton, David Duval, Luke Donald and Dustin Johnson, among others. With the caliber of the contenders, there is every reason to believe the 54th event will produce another future star.
Stewart enters as the most heralded of the leaders. Among other accomplishments, he this year became only the second first-team All-American in Vanderbilt history (joining Brandt Snedeker) and was a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award as the top player in college golf. He won three events and had three other top five finishes.
He already has represented the United States in the Palmer Cup matches and has delayed turning pro because he hopes to make this year’s Walker Cup team. He is playing this week with Spider Miller, the US coach, among those watching the competition. He is playing in the Northeast for the first time. He missed the event last year because he played in the US Open the week before.
“Now, knowing what I passed up I’m thinking this would have been pretty fun,’’ he said of competing at Wannamoisett. He has put together back-to-back 66s using a plan to focus on staying out of the heavy rough.
“I think a good round tomorrow would help that,’’ he said of making the Walker Cup team. “All along my goal has been just to do my best, execute a good game plan and play smart golf. I can’t be hitting shots tomorrow thinking what-if this and what-if that. I’ve just got to focus on my targets and make good swings.
Stewart said he has done all he could to focus on himself and not where he stands on the leaderboard.
“I’ve kind of got a deal with my caddy where if we can to two or three holes left tomorrow and we’re in it, then we’ll deal with it,’’ he said.
Stewart and Johnson know each other well because their schools compete in so many of the same events, but they have not played together in two years. Johnson is happy to be competing again after missing more than six months last year with a hip injury.
Johnson has been a model of consistency, as is obvious by making two straight trips around Wannamoisett without a bogey. Much like Stewart, he will worry about himself, not the other contenders.
“I’m just trying to play well. If I shoot 3 or 4-under and lose, then hats off to whoever wins,’’ he said.
Jolly gives an added dimension as the defending champion. The last player to successfully defend the title was Luke Donald in 2000-01. Only three others have done it in tournament history Jay Sigel in 1984-85, John Cook in 1978-79 and Ronnie Quinn in 1964-65.
“I had it going, then kind of blew it at the end,’’ Jolly said. He was within one of the lead before he had bogeys on 15 and 16.
54th Northeast Amateur Round 2 Recap
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ When he is in school, Zach Seabolt does not get many opportunities to compete against the big names in college golf. The Winthrop University Eagles do not travel in the same circles as LSU, Texas, Southern Cal and the other power schools in the NCAA.
This week, though, the school name on the golf bags at the 54th Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club do not matter, so Seabolt is on equal footing with everyone else. And he is showing what a small college star can do.
Seabolt put together a sparkling 4-under-par 65 on Thursday to vault into the lead at the tournament’s midway point at 5-under 133. The scoreboard is squeezed together more so than any year in recent memory, with19 players jammed within four strokes of Seabolt.
Still, all the guys from the power schools are looking up at Seabolt, who had five birdies against only one bogey on the second straight beautiful day for scoring at the par-69 Donald Ross-designed course.
Seabolt, who is from Raleigh, N.C., just finished an outstanding sophomore year at Winthrop, so strong that Golfweek named him to the third-team All-America squad. He won three tournaments and finished in the top 10 in nine of the 12 events in which his team took part. Seabolt expressed pride in playing at Winthrop.
“We play some tournaments that have one or two big schools in it, but not every tournament like they get to play each other every week, so this is fun,’’ he said. “It shows them that small schools can play as well.’’
He is not unhappy about his choice to attend the school in Rock Hill, S.C.
“I’d do the same thing, the exact same thing,’’ he said. “It’s doing well for me, so I can’t complain.’’
Seabolt, who was among the late starters, described his 65 as a “pretty clean round. I was looking at the scores this morning and I saw they were pretty low so I knew the course would be getable out there. So I took my chances when I could.’’
“I didn’t hit many fairways, but I putted pretty well,’’ he added. Every one of his five birds came on putts inside 20 feet.
Four more college stars were one off the pace. They included Taylor Funk, the first-round leader, his Texas teammate Scotty Scheffler, Auburn’s Michael Johnson and Nick Voke, an Iowa State star by way of New Zealand.
Funk had one of the day’s most unusual rounds. The son of PGA and Champions Tour star Fred Funk had to call on grit as much as talent. The 19-year-old dealt with a similar issue that so many have faced through the years. He had to sleep on the lead for the first time in a national event and deal with all the attention that brings. Typically, players in such situations tend to struggle the day after.
Funk did, at least at the start. He bogeyed the first hole, then double-bogeyed the 505-yard par-4 second.
“I hit good shots, just chose the wrong club,’’ he related. Quickly, he was out of the lead and battling to survive. He did not hit a green in regulation until the seventh, yet he scrambled and managed to par three through six.
He not only kept his composure, he used outstanding putting to birdie 7, 9, 10 and 11. A double bogey on 14, where he drove into the water, set him back, but he kept dropping putts and put up a 70 to stand at 4-under for the tournament. He needed only 23 putts on the day.
He was not the only one putting well on the Wannamoisett greens, which were measured by superintendant Mark Daniels at 13 on the STIMP meter before play.
Johnson had a similar day. He had the day’s low score, a 64, even though he was not especially pleased with the way he hit the ball.
“I can guarantee you there are guys out there today who hit the ball better than I did,’’ he said. “I just kind of went along and made two-putt pars. Then, when I was able to hit it close, 10 feet and in, I made every putt except the last one I had.’’
Johnson had five birdies, including three in a row beginning at 10, and did not make a bogey. His only disappointment was missing a short birdie putt on 18.
Voke followed his opening 65 with a 69 that came despite consecutive bogeys at 2, 3 and 4. He had one other bogey and four birds to finish even par on the day. Voke is 20 but already has played all over the world. The New Zealand native was a ranked junior player and thrilled to be recruited by Iowa State. He has put together two solid years there and has mixed in competing in a tournament in China, as well.
“I love it,’’ he said of his experience at Iowa State. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.’’
Scheffler, the US Junior Champion two years ago, is now a star at Texas who is being heralded as a potential super star. He took his second straight 67 in stride, saying like so many of the others at the top of the scoreboard, that he did not hit the ball especially well but kept his score down with excellent putting.
Taylor Funk Sets the Round One Pace with 5 Under 64
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE - For more than 30 years now, golf fans have become accustomed to seeing the name Funk atop a tournament leaderboard. It happened again on Wednesday in the 54th annual Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club.
The difference is that this time it is 19-year-old Taylor Funk doing it, not his father.
Fred Funk, who has won 17 events and more than $31 million on the PGA and Champions Tours, is in California where he will begin play on Thursday in the U.S. Senior Open. He would love to have the kind of day his son had Wednesday at Wannamoisett where he earned the lead over a strong 90-player field in one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country.
Taylor Funk had a dazzling stretch of eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie in the middle of his round to propel him to a 5-under 64 in the best performance of his young career. The young Funk, who just finished his freshman year at the University of Texas, finished with five birdies and an eagle, easily offsetting two bogeys.
He needed all his birds. He leads New Zealand’s Nick Voke, who plays at Iowa State, by only one. Voke had five straight threes from 11-15, a run that included three birdies.
Two other collegians, Zach Wright, one of the stars of LSU’s national championship team, and Theo Humphrey, a Vanderbilt star from Fairfield, Ct., had 66.
In all, 28 players matched or broke par on the century old Donald-Ross designed course that was ready for play only after considerable work by the grounds crew after an overnight electrical and wind storm knocked over signs and left debris all over the course.
By the time the first ball was struck at 8 a.m., everything was fully ready and players were able to take advantage of softened conditions and a beautiful 80 degree day with only light wind.
Funk led the onslaught on par.
Beginning on the back nine, everything was normal early on.
``I actually made some good up and downs early (to save par),’’ he related. Everything changed at the 17th, the only par-5 on the course.
``I hit a good cut five-wood in and made a 30-footer (for eagle),’’ he said. He hit approaches within five and six feet and made the birdie putts on the next two holes.
Then, on the 505-yard, par-4 second, the toughest hole on the course, he drove into a fairway bunker and had over 200 yards in.
``I hit a great shot, a seven iron to 15 feet, and made it up the hill,’’ he said. The birdie there was particularly rewarding since that hole had hurt him badly last year.
``I think I was six over on that hole last year,’’ he noted.
Funk, who spent parts of three years caddying for his dad on the Champions Tour, said the 5-under stretch in four holes, ``was really my round right there. I kind of coasted in from there.’’
Funk, who did not break into the regular lineup for the powerful Texas team this year (one of his teammates would have been U.S. Open and Masters Champion Jordan Spieth had he not turned pro), is using different caddie at Wannamoisett.
Last year his mother, Sharon, toted for him.
``She’s back home (in Florida) caring for my younger sister (Perri),’’ Funk said. This year his cousin, Stephen Archer, is touring the amateur circuit with him and caddying.
While Funk was the day’s star, he has tons of competition in the 72-hole event, especially from the college stars. Two members of LSU national champions are in contention, Wright at 3-under and Stewart Jolly, the defending champion in the Northeast, at 2-under 67.
Scottie Scheffler, one of Funk’s Texas teammates and one of the top rated amateurs in the nation, is part of a group at 67. That group includes Newport’s John Hayes IV. Hayes played in the same twosome with Funk.
``We had a best-ball of 10-under (59),’’ Hayes pointed out.
Stewart Jolly wins 53rd Northeast Amateur
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE - It turned out to be a Jolly old time at the Northeast Amateur this year.
Stewart Jolly, an All-American at LSU this season, turned in a gritty wire-to-wire performance to win the 53rd annual event at Wannamoisett Country Club. The native of Birmingham, Al., fought his way to a 2-over 71 in Saturday’s final round to finish at 2-under 274.
He had more bogeys in the final round (six) than he had in the first three rounds combined (five). At one point on the last day he fell into a tie with his playing partner, Oklahoma State’s Jordan Niebrugge. But, as he had done in each of the first three days, Jolly never gave up at least a share of the top spot. He regrouped and made the shots he needed to post the biggest victory of his career.
``This is my biggest win, by far,’’ said Jolly. ``I’m so excited. . . Wannamoisett Country Club is a great Country Club. It was in perfect condition. I couldn’t be more thankful to be here. I had a great event.’’ Jolly, who heads to England on Sunday to be part of the United States team in the Palmer Cup matches, has won two college tournaments and took the Junior Masters before college. While it was his pure talent that gave him the lead after each of the first three days, it was his determination that allowed him to complete the second wire-to-wire performance in the tournament in four years. Peter Uihlein also did it in 2011.
``It was a grind out there. It was very, very tough, but I played great,’’ Jolly said. ``I holed some putts and didn’t really get into any trouble.’’
He was only one ahead of Niebrugge to begin the day and fell into a tie when he bogeyed the 505-yard, par-4 second. He responded with birds on 4 and 7, while Niebrugge was beginning with eight straight pars.
Jolly’s lead grew to four when he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 10th. But any thoughts of a runaway disappeared with a two-shot swing on 11. Jolly three-putted for bogey and Niebrugge rolled in a 12-foot downhill putt for bird. Suddenly, he was back within two, at 2-under for the tournament while Jolly was a 4-under.
It was strictly a two-man race as no one else was able to get into red numbers for the tournament. US Junior champion Scottie Scheffler, Chelso Barrett of TCU, Seth Reeves of Georgia Tech and Lee McCoy of Georgia all tied for third at 279, five behind Jolly.
Jolly had what he called ``sloppy`` bogeys on 11, 13 and 14 and was still ahead by one on the 15th because Niebrugge also was struggling. Jolly responded by hitting a five-iron on the uphill 210-yard par-3 15th that nearly went into the hole on the first bounce and ended up 10 feet past the cup.
``That was huge. I had just made three bogeys in four holes and it was kind of slipping the other way, then I hit a great shot in there and made the putt. It kind of gave me the confidence for the last three holes,’’ he said.
There was one final twist supplied by Niebrugge. That came on the 551-yard 17th, the only par-5 on the course. He had 210 yards with his second shot and hit a five iron. It hit the pin on the fly and he got a terrible break. It deflected against the collar of the rough.
``I can’t be made or anything like that, I hit a perfect shot,’’ he said. ``I was hoping it would hit a little short of the green and roll up there, but it flew a little further than I expected. It’s all right.’’ He skulled his chip from against the collar back across the green and made six. Jolly could afford to three-putt the final hole and win by two.
It all made Jolly’s decision to play in the event rather than head to England early, which sevn of his Palmer Cup teammates did, look very smart.
``It obviously looks pretty good right now,’’ he said. ``It was a very hard decision both events (he missed the British Amateur) are very, very good. I just felt I like I had already made by commitment here so that’s what I needed to do.’’
Tiger and Cowboy Put on a Show Down the Stretch
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ It will be LSU against Oklahoma State, a Walker Cup player against a Palmer Cup selection in the final round of the Northeast Amateur on Saturday.
It is not just a two-man race, but Stewart Jolly and Jordan Niebrugge did all they could in Friday’s third round to pull away from the field.
Jolly, the leader after each of the first two days, birdied his last two holes, including a 20-footer on 18, to maintain sole possession of the lead. The LSU star who will represent the United States in the Palmer Cup matches in England next week (he is playing with his USA bag this week), shot 69 to stand at 4-under 203 through 54 holes.
Niebrugge, an Oklahoma State star who helped the United States win the Walker Cup last summer, surged into the challenger’s spot with the best round of the week, a 4-under 65 despite difficult conditions that sent most scores soaring. He is one behind Jolly at 204.
Only one other player, Kurt Kitayama of UNLV, is within six shots of the lead. He had a 69 for 207.
The two leaders know each other well. Their college experiences have included playing in the same threesome in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Both their teams reached the NCAA Final Four this year.
“He’s a great player. He’s a very, very good ball striker,’’ Jolly said of Niebrugger. “He’s proven how good he is. He was on the Walker Cup team last year. I’m looking forward to playing with him tomorrow.’’
Jolly suffered bogeys at 3 and 4 on Friday, but then made 12 straight pars before finishing birdie-birdie to keep his lead.
“I kind of stuck to my game plan, just trying to hit fairways and greens. That makes it a lot easier out here. The whole course firmed up a ton today, it was very, very difficult, especially early on.’’ Jolly said. His putting was a key with his work including a 12-footer to save par on nine, a 15-foot save on 12 and a 20-footer for bird on the last hole.
Only one person shot below 68 in the third round. That was Niebrugger, who made his 65 sound easy.
“I’ve had three pretty stress free rounds’’, he said.
Most players went backwards on moving day because of continued strong wind. Niebrugger does not mind if it lasts one more day.
“I think it was very similar to round one,’’ he said of blustery winds. “Yesterday I thought was little bit easier. I play at Oklahoma State so we’re used to the wind. We probably practice in this every day in the spring, so I’m pretty used to it. That’s why we go there. We get all the elements there. When you go out there you feel like you’re prepared for the wind. You know how to hit some shots. So I’m very comfortable out there.’’
Niebrugger earned his Walker Cup berth with a sensational 2013 in which he won the US Public Links (which allowed him to play in The Masters this year), the Western Am and both the Wisconsin amateur and stroke play.
Until the leaders came in, the story continued to be high scoring because of the wind and increasingly firm greens.
Three members of the University of Texas team handled the conditions well. Kramer Hickok, Gavin Hall and Taylor Funk, all posted 68s. Funk, the son of Fred, did it with his mother, Sharon, caddying for him.
However most fell back. Another Texas player, Scottie Scheffler, the US Junior Champion who is the third ranked Amateur in the world, doubled the first hole and never got going on the way to a 70 that left him in a tie for fifth at 210.
All-American Seth Reeves of Georgia got within two of the lead but then doubled the par-4 11th. Bryson Dechambeau, another member of the US Palmer Cup team, got himself in position to challenge, but then doubled the short (345-yard) seventh hole. Hans Reimers, who began the day in second place, drove out of bounds on the fourth hole on the way to making a quadruple bogey eight.
Stewart Jolly Maintains Lead After Round 2 67
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE _ It is looking more and more as if Stewart Jolly made a great decision to delay his trip to England to represent the United States in the Palmer Cup matches.
After earning All-American honors for a big year at LSU, Jolly was named to the 10-man United States team that will face the Europeans next week in the Palmer Cup at the Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England.
Seven of the 10 members of Team USA already are in England. They went last week so they could compete in the British Amateur. Jolly was one of three, along with Bryson Dechambeau of SMU and Anthony Maccaglia of Ogelthorpe, who decided to stay on this side of the Atlantic and play in the Sunnehanna Invitational last week in Pennsylvania and in the Northeast Amateur this week.
Jolly is showing why he made the United States team as he competes in the 53rd annual Northeast at Wannamoisett.
He recorded his second-straight 2-under 67 Thursday to build his lead from one to three strokes. Oregon Open champion Hans Reimers, a recent Mercer University grad, birdied his last two holes for a 69 and 137 total for second place.
Two more college stars, Seth Reeves of Georgia Tech (68) and Kurt Kitayama of UNLV (70) are tied for third at level par 138.
Jolly’s numbers stand out because everyone else is fighting just to stay near par. He is one of the only two players in red numbers. There have not been fewer players under par through 36 holes since 1991. That year, no one was below par after two days. Jay Sigel eventually won the event for the third time at four-over.
Jolly could have headed over with his Palmer Cup teammates by now. But he decided he wanted to honor a promise to play in the Northeast for the first time.
“I committed to play in this tournament before I made the Palmer Cup team,’’ he related. “I decided it would be better to come play these two events rather than play one over there. I thought it was the best thing to do to get my game in shape.’’
Jolly took different routes to his two 67s. In the first round, he finished with birdies on each of his last two holes. In the second round he birdied three of his first five then, as he described it, “played really solid, steady all day.’’
He expected others to play well, too.
“It was a little bit softer today. It rained this morning, softened up the course and made it a little bit easier,’’ he said.
Reimers stayed within range thanks to a strong finish. After his opening 68, he had three early bogeys in the second round to fall back but then came on well with four birds on the way to a 32 on the back side.
“I birdied 17 and 18 so that helps,’’ he said. “It’s awesome to come in with a couple of birdies instead of finishing the other way.’’
The early scores included a 66 by former Louisiana Amateur champion Patrick Christovich (for a 141 total) and 67s by Scottie Scheffler, the reigning U.S. Junior Champion who is headed to the University of Texas (for 140) and University of Georgia star Nicholas Reach for 141.
Stewart Jolly Leads Deep Field at Northeast Amateur After Round 1
By Paul Kenyon
EAST PROVIDENCE - Stewart Jolly was the last player to get started in the Northeast Amateur on Wednesday at Wannamoisett Country Club, and the first player on the scoreboard when the day was done.
Jolly, an LSU star who hails from Birmingham, Ala., birdied his last two holes to shoot 2-under 67 and earn the first-day lead in the 53rd annual Northeast.
Only five players broke par on a day made difficult on the Donald Ross-designed course by strong winds as well as firm and fast greens. Being the last player off the tee (1:20 starting time) turned out to be a blessing for Jolly. Winds that were measured in the 20 MPH range most of the day and at times as high as 30, finally subsided late in the afternoon.
“It definitely calmed down a little bit,’’ Jolly said. “It was probably an advantage to play this afternoon with the wind dying down the last five holes or so. It was a lot of fun.’’
“I made a lot of pars,’’ said Jolly, who heads to England next week as a member of the U.S. Palmer Cup team. “It was playing pretty tough with the wind up. . . I played very safe shots into the greens where, if I did miss a green, I was in a spot where I could get it up and down. And I did.’’
Jolly took advantage of the calmer conditions late in the day. He reached the 17th, the only par-5 on the course, in two and two putted for bird, then drained a 25-footer for another bird on the 18th to earn the lead for himself.
Four other collegians had 68, Adam Schenk of Purdue, Hans Reimers, a recent Mercer University grad from Albany, Or., Blake Morris of Ole Miss and Kurt Kitayama of UNLV.
For most of the day, the wind was the biggest story. It created even tougher conditions than usual, sending scores higher. Conditions changed less than a half hour after play began.
“We got the first two groups off fine,’’ said Joe Pieranunzi, the announcer on the first tee. “Then, when the third group was on the tee, the wind came. It blew so hard it knocked over the table where we have the tees for the players, knocked it right into Joe Sprague’s legs (Sprague is the director of regional affairs for the Northeast for the USGA).
“Then the tent blew over,’’ Pieranunzi added, “and it hasn’t stopped since.’’
At midday the winds were measured at 18 miles an hour, with gusts up to 26. Wannamoisett is known for its outstanding course conditions and slick, quick greens. It is not unusual to have strong wind in the spring and fall. But it is highly unusual in summer, on a beautiful sunny day that included temperatures in the high 80s.
“It’s never like this at this time,’’ said Ben Tuthill, who took over this year as tournament director from Denny Glass. Tuthill grew up at Wannamoisett and is a former Rhode Island Amateur champion.
“This makes it much tougher,’’ Tuthill said.
“With the greens as firm as they were, it made it feel like a U.S. Open or a U.S. Amateur,’’ said Morris, a Connecticut native who is competing in the event for the fourth year.
The course set-up by the R.I. Golf Association traditionally is the easiest of the week. In six of the last seven years, it has taken a score of 65 or lower to take the first-day lead on the 6,732-yard layout. That included a 62, two 63s and a 64.
Clancy Waugh, who just finished his freshman year at Wake Forest, had the lead
much of the day at 3-under before settling for a 69. Bailey Patrick, a
University of North Carolina star, was the only other player to match par.
Kitayama Takes Ruling In Stride; Sits 1 Back
By Paul Kenyon
Kurt Kitayama took as few shots as any of the 88 players in the first round of the Northeast Amateur on Wednesday. Still, when the day ended, he was only in a tie for second place.
Because of the rules, that can happen in golf.
Kitayama, a star for UNLV who lives in Chico, Cal., finished with a 1-under-par 68. He hit 67 shots and had to take a one-stroke penalty when he dropped his putter as he was getting ready to putt on his ninth hole. The putter landed on his marker and moved the marker.
“It moved the ball mark and he moved it back. That’s a one-stroke penalty,’’ said Bob Ward, the executive director of the R.I. Golf Association which helps run the event. “He knew it.’’
Because he knew the rule, Kitayama did not protest.
“It was a little unfortunate but I bounced back from it,’’ he said. “I figured I was playing well enough and I was putting well enough that I could make it up.’’
Kitayama, who has never been to New England before, had five birds. Beginning on the back side, Kitayama birdied, 11, 12, 14, 3 and 5.
Northeast Amateur Invitational Media Day
RUMFORD, R.I. – June 4,2014 - Welcome to the 53rd Northeast Amateur Invitational. The membership of Wannamoisett Country Club and the Northeast Amateur committee are excited about our field and staging one of the elite events in amateur golf.
This year’s event will take place from June 18-21 at Wannamoisett C.C., a par-69, Donald Ross-designed course that has stood the test of time welcoming the best players in the world. Last year seven players finished under par, led by 2013 champion Cory Whisett’s (Univ. Alabama) 10-under par score.
Under the direction of first-year committee chairman Ben Tuthill, we again have one of the best fields of players amateur golf will see this summer. Included in the field are three members of the winning 2013 Walker Cup team; three members of the 2014 Palmer Cup team that will play the following week at Walton Heath in England; winners of the USGA’s Mid-Amateur, Pub-Links and Junior Amateur; as well as reigning champions of the Player’s Amateur, Sunnehanna Amateur, North & South Amateur, Brazilian Amateur, Southern Amateur and Monroe Invitational.
“Our previous chairman, Denny Glass, left a great legacy and template for us to follow and the interest in the Northeast has never been greater. We’re excited to host another great event and to showcase some of golf’s future stars,” said Tuthill, a former competitor in the Northeast Amateur.
The field includes seven of the top 25 players on the World Amateur Golf Rankings compiled by the USGA and the R&A. That group is headlined by the number one ranked junior player in the world, Dallas high school senior and USGA Junior champion Scottie Scheffler. He is headed to the University of Texas in the fall. Other highly ranked players include:
- SMU’s Bryson Dechambeau, a Palmer Cup team member who just finished ninth at the NCAA’s.
- Jordan Niebrugge, last year's Western Amateur Champion and a Walker Cup teamer who recently helped Oklahoma State to the NCAA finals.
- Roman Robdelo of Houston who won five tournaments in nine tries this season.
- Cheng-Tsung Pan, an All-American at the University of Washington.
- Sam Horsfield, a 17-year old who won the Florida Amateur by 11 shots last year and will be a Florida Gator in the fall.
- Steven Ihm, the 2013 Sunnehanna champion and All-Big Ten pick at Iowa.
Three members of the LSU team that reached the semifinal round of the NCAA’s are coming to town. They include Palmer Cup member Stewart Jolly, Smylie Kaufman and Curtis Thompson, the older brother of LPGA phenom Lexi and younger sibling to Nicholas, a PGA Tour member and former Northeast Amateur contestant.
Mid-Amateurs are annual contenders in the tournament and we have several returnees including 1990 champion Todd White, who is coming off a great showing in the Walker Cup last summer; USGA Mid-Am champion Mike McCoy and runner-up Bill Williamson; and Nathan Smith, another Walker Cupper who is one of the most decorated mid-amateur players in history.
Someone from the Rhode Island area always seems to find a way to compete at the Northeast. Multiple RIGA champion Bobby Leopold is returning after finishing T17 with a plus-6 score a year ago. RIGA Player of the Year Brad Valois, Stroke Play champ Johnny Hayes IV, two-time State Amateur and 8 time Wannamoisett Club champ Charlie Blanchard, Wannamoisett club champion Dan Blessing and Jamison Randall, the Cumberland native who was the team MVP at Old Dominion, are also in the field.
The Northeast Amateur begins with a Sponsor/Contestant Tournament on Tuesday, June 17. The tournament proper begins on Wednesday, June 18, at 8 a.m. Please follow scoring updates on our web site, NortheastAmateur.com, and look for our professionally produced daily video updates from Don Coyne at the site as well.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for any assistance in covering the event. On behalf of our committee, thank you for your interest in the Northeast Amateur.
Cory Whitsett 2013 Winner
Cory Whitsett sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to cap an amazing closing round 6-under 63 and capture the 52nd Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club for what he termed his “biggest individual amateur victory.”
Whitsett, who just completed his junior year at Alabama, finished with a 10-under 266 total and won by two strokes over Bo Andrews, who was just as amazing over the final 18 holes with a 7-under 62.
Whitsett’s final round was the lowest shot by the winner the last day in the long and storied history of this world-class tournament.
Meanwhile, the 62 by Andrews, who will be a fifth-year senior at Georgia Tech, equaled this year’s low tournament round, was one-shot shy of the tournament record and the lowest final round ever in the competition.
“This has been a great month of golf for me and to cap it off with a win here is just phenomenal,” said Whitsett, who plans to head back home to Houston and take some time off. “This is my favorite tournament so that makes it ever more special.
“And to be the champion in (Denny Glass’) last year as tournament chairman is the icing on the cake,” Whitsett said. “I’ve know Mr. Glass since I was 16 years old and have played in his Terra Cotta tournament (which Glass also chairs) three times (finishing second twice). This is my third time here so we’ve become good friends.”
Whitsett started the final round tied for second with Patrick Rodgers and Cameron Wilson, two strokes behind Rafael Becker of Brazil, who led or shared the lead in each of the first three rounds.
With a closing 1-under 68, Rodgers finished third at 5-under 271 while Becker struggled home with a 4-over 73 and placed fourth at 2-under 274.
Todd White, with a most impressive 4-under 65 finish, was the event’s low mid-amateur at 1-under 275, seven shots clear of fellow mid-ams Bobby Leopold and Mike McCoy. White tied for fifth with Wilson (72) and Max Homa (69).
Ben Tuthill has been named chairman of the Northeast Amateur Invitational, replacing Denny Glass, it was announced on Tuesday morning.
Tuthill, 32, is a financial adviser in Providence, R.I., and has been a member at Wannamoisett Country Club since 2007, with his family dating to 1988 at the club.
Tuthill played in the Northeast Amateur in 2001, 2004, 2009 and 2012. He is a former Rhode Island Amateur champion.
"I am extremely excited about leading the Northeast for years to come," said Tuthill. "This tournament has been a part of my life since 1988 and I have had the pleasure of taking part as a caddie, player, committee member and sponsor through the years. My goal will be to attract the strongest field in amateur golf and to ensure the players and the Wannamoisett membership continues to have a wonderful experience the third week of June."