Northeast Am kicks off Wednesday with impressive field

Sam Horsfield is one of a handful of junior-golf stars that will tee it up at the Northeast Amateur this week.

Many tournaments stake their claim as one of the 'nation's best'. A select few stand above the rest.

And for the last 52 years, the Northeast Amateur has been one of them.

With one of the amateur game's most impressive fields, the 2014 Northeast Amateur tees off Wednesday from the Donald Ross-designed Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I.

Defending champion and former Alabama All-American Cory Whitsett, who's competing this week as an amateur on the Web.com Tour in his professional debut, will not be in the field.

That means there will be a new champion -- and looking at the field, it sure will be a deserved one. A number of the game's top collegiate, junior and mid-amateur golfers seek to add their name to the list of Northeast Amateur champions alongside Ben Crenshaw, David Duval, Luke Donald and Dustin Johnson.

The 2014 Northeast Amateur field is a veritable who's who of the college game's best players. Among those with recent wins are Grady Brame, Jr., Michael McGowan and Will Murphy.

Brame, who plays at Southeastern Louisiana, recently won the Louisiana State Amateur championship. Former UNC star McGowan took home the Signal Mountain Invitational. Murphy, who plays at South Carolina, won the prestigious Azalea Amateur in Charleston earlier this season.

Other collegiate stars will undoubtedly contend next week at Wannamoisett. University of Texas star Gavin Hall, Georgia Tech's Bo Andrews and Seth Reeves, Viraat Badhwar of Stanford, Auburn's Michael Johnson, LSU's Curtis Thompson -- to name just a few -- should be in the mix Saturday in the final round.

Representing the rising junior contingency will be a quartet of players. Recent Memorial winner Cameron Champ, a Texas A&M signee; University of Florida commit Sam Horsfield; Oklahoma commit Brad Dalke; and Scottie Scheffler, the 2013 U.S. Junior champion and Texas commit, will be among the field's top young players.

Don't count out the veterans, though. A host of the nation's top mid-amateur competitors will also be making the trip to New England.

Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Mike McCoy, four-time U.S. Mid-Am winner and two-time Walker Cup team member Nathan Smith, and Todd White, the schoolteacher from South Carolina who joined Smith on last year's winning U.S. Walker Cup squad, are among the most well-known of the mid-amateurs heading into the Northeast Amateur.

Coleman Invitational champ Patrick Christovich, Concession Cup teammates Scott Harvey and Gene Elliott, reigning Stocker Cup champ John Sawin and Garrett Rank, who played well at last week's Monroe Invitational and was the 2012 U.S. Mid-Am runner-up, will pace the field and truly contend on the 6,400-yard par-69 track.

The event kicks off Wednesday with Round 1 and wraps up on Saturday.

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