Whitsett wins Northeast Amateur with final-round 63
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RUMFORD, R.I. – Cory Whitsett figured the best way to combat against a hard-charging offense is with a defense that is, well, an almost equally impressive offense.
That’s what the left-hander and senior-to-be at Alabama did Saturday in the final round on his way to victory in the 52nd Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club.
Whitsett came on strong and closed with a 6-under-par 63 to offset an impressive 7-under 62 by fifth-year Georgia Tech senior Bo Andrews and capture “my biggest individual win in amateur golf.”
His final round was the lowest shot by the winner in the long and storied history of this world-class tournament and left him at 10-under-par 266.
That was two strokes better than Andrews, who started the day five shots out of the lead and whose 62 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.”
The month Whitsett was referring to started when he helped lead his Alabama team to the NCAA title at Capital City Golf Club’s Crabapple course just outside of Atlanta. Then he went 3-0-1 while leading the U.S. to victory over Europe in the Palmer Cup. And last week he finished second, two strokes out, at the Sunnehanna Amateur.
“I haven’t been home since Easter and right now I’m pretty tired,” he said. “But it’s definitely a good tired.”
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).
“Starting the day, I felt if I played tee to green like I had the first three days and got some putts to drop it could be a really low day,” Andrews said. “The putts did start dropping and I was able to make to good run at (winning). I played great, but so did Cory and my hat’s off to him.”
Becker fell out of the lead early with three bogeys on the first five holes and never could mount any sort of challenge. Meanwhile, Whitsett, with birdies at Nos. 2, 5 and 6, moved to 7 under and led Wilson by two.
A birdie at No. 10 moved Whitsett to 8 under, but Andrews was making his charge up the ladder, notching birdies at 5, 8, 10 and 11 to get to 5 under.
Coming into the home stretch, Andrews, with birdies at 13, 14 and 15, and Whitsett, who birdied 14, but bogeyed 15, were deadlocked at 8 under with the other challengers out of the running.
Whitsett moved to the forefront with a “hard-to-believe” birdie at the par-4 16th. His pushed his tee shot right, but the ball hit a tree and bounced back toward the fairway, although still in the rough. He hit a pitching wedge from 165 yards to seven feet and made the putt.
Whitsett then put any doubts about the final outcome to rest at the par-4 18th hole when he drained a 30 foot, downhill birdie put.
“It was a great putt to have to know you had two putts to win,” said Whitsett, a former U.S. Junior Amateur champion. “I just got the ball started and then it went in. What a way to finish.”
Whitsett’s winning 10 under total was the third best in tournament history, behind the 15 under from Peter Uihlein in 2011 and the 11 under from Dan Woltman in 2009.