Todd White starts vacation with 20th appearance at NE Amateur golf tournament

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Todd White tees off during the first day of the Northeast Amateur Invitational Golf Tournament on Wednesday at Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence.

EAST PROVIDENCE — There are certainly worse ways for Todd White to spend part of his summer vacation.

The high school history teacher from South Carolina started two weeks of golf in the state Wednesday at the Northeast Amateur. It marked White’s 20th appearance at Wannamoisett Country Club, and it’s just the beginning.

The U.S. Senior Open at Newport Country Club beckons in a few short days. White is hoping to sharpen his game for that Thursday start with a good performance here, and a bogey-free back nine followed a bit of a bumpy beginning. White settled for a 4-over 73 that still leaves him within realistic striking distance of surviving Friday’s cut after the third round.

“Rhode Island and Rhode Island golf have been very, very rewarding experiences for me in the past,” White said. “I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to these next two weeks.”

White was the 1990 champion here and has recorded four other top-10 finishes. His title year included a few other noteworthy names in contention — future PGA Championship runner-up Bob May, three-time champion Jay Sigel and future world No. 1 David Duval. White is back for the first time since 2018 and still looks to be firmly in his golfing prime.

“Knowing how good golf is in this area — Rhode Island, New England — I would always stay over an extra day or two and have some friends play some really great places up here,” White said. “Newport was one of them.”

White’s view of the uphill first hole on a steamy morning was a different one compared to his debut visit in the late 1980s. The fairway was tree-lined down both sides at that point — the Donald Ross design has been opened up significantly, including during a major renovation in 2021-22. Multiple greens have been enlarged and distances off the tees have been lengthened where possible.

“It’s just a wonderful, wonderful golf course,” White said. “When I signed up to play, a lot of great memories came flooding back.

“Not so much winning here — more the people I would be able to see and interact with again.”

White tied for fourth in 2008 and tied for ninth in 2010 with C.T. Pan, the first Taiwanese player to win on the PGA Tour. He tied for 10th in 2012 and finished in a three-way tie for fifth in 2013 — six-time PGA Tour winner Max Homa and Cameron Wilson also closed at 1-under. White remains a strong contender thanks to 2023 wins at the U.S. Senior Amateur and South Carolina state amateur.

“I’m here to compete,” White said. “The deck’s kind of stacked against me a little bit with the college kids being here and the short irons they’re hitting into holes.

“That’s not sour grapes — that’s just reality. You get to be my age, you don’t hit it quite as far. But I’m going to relish the next two weeks.”

Bobby Leopold putts during the first day of the Northeast Amateur Invitational Golf Tournament on Wednesday at Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence.

Bobby Leopold putts during the first day of the Northeast Amateur Invitational Golf Tournament on Wednesday at Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence.

White used his experience last year against South Carolina runner-up Rafe Reynolds, a standout with the Gamecocks. He navigated the shorter layout at Musgrove Mill Golf Club by hitting his driver just 12 times over four days and opting for control. White posted a one-shot victory to capture that tournament 33 years after his 1990 triumph.

“Playing against the college kids, I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was very satisfying to see some of them shake their heads,” White said. “ ‘Hey, what is this old guy doing in the last group?’ ”

White will be among peers next week in Newport. He’ll formally register Sunday night, play practice rounds Monday and Tuesday and complete nine holes in one final session Wednesday. It will be White’s second Senior Open appearance in the last three years and another highlight in a career full of them.

“I’m very fortunate to have been able to play in quality tournaments for a long time,” White said. “I’ve worked hard at it. I’ve tried to maintain my physical conditioning to where I can compete.

“I look forward to the challenge.”

bkoch@providencejournal.com 

On X: @BillKoch25 

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Todd White starts vacation with 20th run at NE Amateur golf tournament

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