Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Summer golf season heats up, beginning with the Northeast Amateur; what to know

By admin Jun7,2024

EAST PROVIDENCE — Last year served as the perfect reminder of how close players in the Northeast Amateur field are to breaking through on the largest of golf stages.

Nick Dunlap made PGA Tour history barely seven months after donning the winner’s blazer at Wannamoisett Country Club. It was part of a sizzling summer for the Alabama star, who has since turned professional.

Dunlap recorded a two-shot victory over Caleb Surratt at the Northeast before going on to win the U.S. Amateur in Colorado. He earned an exemption into the field at The American Express in January and fired a third-round 60 to take the lead in California. Dunlap held off the field on Sunday by one shot, becoming the first amateur to win on tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991.

“It’s hard to tell — because they’re all so good — who’s going to go on and do the next great thing,” tournament chairman Ben Tuthill said. “But with all the talent in the field, they are going to do some amazing things in the not-so-distant future.”

Nick Dunlap poses with the trophy after winning the Northeast Amateur at the Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence last summer.Nick Dunlap poses with the trophy after winning the Northeast Amateur at the Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence last summer.

Nick Dunlap poses with the trophy after winning the Northeast Amateur at the Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence last summer.

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Tuthill met with the media behind the first tee on a perfect Tuesday morning. The venerable Donald Ross design is ready to welcome the 62nd edition of the event, and another stacked field will take part in the four-round stroke-play format beginning on June 19. Admission to the grounds is free throughout tournament play and open to the public.

“I always highlight a few names for this morning, but there are 100 great amateur golfers,” Tuthill said. “I can’t tell you which one is going to go on and win the next major.”

Current world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler posted three top-10 finishes at the Northeast during his college days with Texas. Collin Morikawa (2017), Dustin Johnson (2007), Luke Donald (2000, 2001) and David Duval (1992) are among past winners who went on to decorated professional careers. Someone among the 2024 group could be next.

Auburn star Jackson Koivun and Vanderbilt standout Gordon Sargent are among the headliners. Koivun swept Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Phil Mickelson awards while leading the Tigers to an NCAA team championship. Sargent is the world’s top-ranked amateur and has put his professional future on hold while electing to compete with the Commodores as a senior in 2024-25.

“It’s an awesome field,” Tuthill said. “They’re going to do amazing things. It’s just a matter of which one.”

Florida State standout Luke Clanton will be the top returning finisher at the Northeast Amateur later this month.Florida State standout Luke Clanton will be the top returning finisher at the Northeast Amateur later this month.

Florida State standout Luke Clanton will be the top returning finisher at the Northeast Amateur later this month.

Surratt has also turned professional, passing up the remainder of his career at Tennessee to sign with LIV Golf. That leaves Florida State standout Luke Clanton as the top returning finisher, and he’s coming off a 2023-24 season with the Seminoles that included three wins, nine top-10 finishes in his first 13 events and a six-way tie for second place at the NCAA championships. Max Herendeen (Illinois), Connecticut native Ben James (Virginia), Koivun and Sargent all came home one shot behind winner Hiroshi Tai (Georgia Tech) and are expected to be in the field in two weeks.

Could a junior player be on the verge of breaking through at this event? Tuthill said he wouldn’t be surprised if someone younger than college age won the tournament inside the next decade. Blades Brown was part of the runner-up team at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball event in May just a week after turning 17.

The local contingent includes another teenager — Ryan Downes was just 17 when he captured the Massachusetts amateur title last summer. Three-time Connecticut champion Rick Dowling, New England champion Joey Lenane and a trio of Rhode Island natives — Bobby Leopold, Harry Dessel and Tyler Cooke — have received invitations. Leopold won his fourth state amateur crown last summer and Dessel, a former Moses Brown star now playing at Lafayette, was the state’s Player of the Year.

Harry Dessel, Moses Brown.Harry Dessel, Moses Brown.

Harry Dessel, Moses Brown.

“They’ve earned their spots here,” Tuthill said. “It’s a privilege to get an opportunity to compete at the highest level, and that’s the way they look at it.”

The Northeast kicks off a two-week stretch of high-profile golf in the state. Newport Country Club plays host to the opening round of the U.S. Senior Open just five days after the Saturday finish at Wannamoisett. Todd White is in the field at both events — this is a 20th appearance for the 1990 Northeast champion, who also captured U.S. Senior Amateur and South Carolina amateur titles in 2023.

“We’ve got such great golf in Rhode Island,” Tuthill said. “We’re so fortunate. To have two huge events like this back-to-back is awesome.”

bkoch@providencejournal.com

On X: @BillKoch25 

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Another stacked field ready to hit the course in the Northeast Amateur

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