Winter break events alter amateur landscape
06 Jan 2014
by Benjamin Larsen of AmateurGolf.com

-- Photo Courtesy Dixie Amateur
-- Photo Courtesy Dixie Amateur

The holidays are behind us and a full schedule of 2014 amateur events is now underway. But let's first take a look back at recent events and how they shaped the amateur world --- and moreover, the amateur rankings.

The month of December has long been ripe for top men's events. With collegiate players on break and looking to stay sharp, there's no shortage of high-level events.

Among the biggest winter break events is the Dixie Amateur. Played Dec. 19-22, LSU's Curtis Thompson won his second title thanks to a final-round 65 and playoff victory over Florida State's Jack Maguire.

Thompson won the event in 2011 and wasn't in contention this year until firing a third-round 66 that shot him past leader McCormack Clouser and into the mix alongside Maguire.

Florida junior and recent Florida State Amateur and Orlando City Amateur winner Sam Horsfield placed fourth, finishing two back of Clouser, who took solo third.

University of Georgia's Michael Cromie, took top honors at the second annual Country Club of North Carolina Amateur. Played exclusively on the club's Dogwood Course, the event is a rising winter tournament.

The South Beach International Amateur stayed true to its name as England's Gregory Eason won it all. Eason, who plays collegiately at Central Florida, shot 70-69-70-69 to top a solid field and finish his 2013 season off on a positive note.

The Dixie win moved Thompson into the top 25 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com U.S. Player Rankings. He's currently No. 24 thanks to the points awarded, which moved him from No. 60.

Eason, who won the NCAA's Southwest Regional and had a Top 10 finish at the NCAA Championship, moved all the way to No. 12 in the U.S. following his SBIA victory.

The country's top junior stars also made headlines during the winter break.

Italy's Renato Paratore won the Junior Orange Bowl at The Biltmore in Coral Gables, Fla. HGe shot 1-under in the final round to finish 9-under throughout the 72-hole event. He won by a shot over hard-charging Dominic Goos of Germany and Venezuela's Jorge Garcia, who shot 69 and 68, respectively.

Canada's Brooke Henderson won the girls title, finishing five shots ahead of Megan Khang of Massachusetts.

Another big junior event took place at the Pinehurst Resort. Fittingly, it ended with fireworks on No. 2 as Nick Stafford won a three-man playoff over Ian Hildebrand and Hunter Oxford.

This past weekend, Aaron Wise won the San Diego Junior Amateur held at Steele Canyon Golf Club. The University of Oregon early commit, shot 67-69-71 to win the Future Champions Golf Tour event.

Krystal Quihuis went wire-to-wire in winning the Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Championchip. The Tucson teen finished an impressive 14-under to stay on top from start to finish.

The amateurgolf.com Tour's 2013-2014 season has also kicked off --- and juniors have made their presence known in the tour's three events played so far.

In early December, 16-year-old Daniel Connolly shot 8-under 64 at Del Monte Golf Course to roll to a four-shot win at the AGC Christmas Classic. This past weekend, Gordon Neale cruised to a seven-shot victory at the San Diego Amateur presented by Callaway Golf.

And, shortly before Christmas, Luke Vivolo, a golfer at UC Davis shot 68-69 to win the amateurgolf.com Tour Championship at Quail Lodge Golf CLub.

The action continues as the major amateur schedule heats up quickly in the new year with the New Year's Invitational, Jones Cup, Azalea Invitational and Southern States Four-Ball kicking things off.

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