If Memorial Day is the official kickoff to summer across the country, then next week, June 10-16 is the official beginning of the elite summer tournament schedule.
With plenty of high-level amateur golf yet to be played in what will surely be another eventful ‘Walker Cup Summer’, things get underway next week with three marquee events.
The Sunnehanna Invitational, Monroe Invitational Championship and the Southeastern Amateur will take place during U.S. Open week. And, it’s fairly safe to say that if an high-level amateur didn’t make the Merion cut, they’ll be in the field at one of these three.
The arguable cream of the crop is the Sunnehanna, played June 13-16.
Inaugurated in 1954, it was the first country club-sponsored 72-hole amateur tournaments in the country. The event is played on the classic A.W. Tillinghast design, Sunnehanna Country Club.
Past champions of the event include Bobby Wyatt, Nathan Smith, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, Lucas Glover, Ben Crenshaw, Scott Verplank, Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade, among others. Past participants of the event is a who’s who of golf greats. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Fred Couples, among many others, have played in the event, proving its rightful place among top national events.
Wyatt, of course, will be there to defend. The Palmer Cup Team member and 2012 U.S. Amateur medalist goes for two straight against a loaded field.
Anders Albertson, the 2013 ACC Champion, Cal red shirt and Pacific Northwest winner Shotaro Ban are among the up-and-comers hoping for their first marquee invitational victory.
Daniel Berger, the Florida State sophomore who torched the field at the Dixie Amateur last year, goes for his second big win.
Reigning Rice Planters champ Thomas Bradshaw of Clemson will also be in the field, along with recent New York City Amateur champ and 2012 USGA State Team champion Max Buckley and two-time Memorial Amateur Champion John Catlin.
Cal bomber Brandon Hagy, who fell in the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Amateur, will also be in the field. Michael Miller, who was second at last year’s Sunnehanna Amateur, enters the field red-hot.
Among the contenders will be a pair of mid-amateur Walker Cup hopefuls. Todd White, 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinalist and Nathan Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid-Am Champion, will hope to pad their Walker Cup resumes with strong play at the Sunnehanna.
Other big names in the field include: Trey Mullinax (2012 Northern Amateur winner), Curtis Thompson (2011 Dixie Amateur, All-SEC), Robby Shelton (top-ranked junior, Alabama commit), Justin Shin (2012 Northeastern Amateur winner) and Richy Werenski (2012 Porter Cup Champion).