Christopher White (Photo submitted)
By Rick Woelfel
They have been the best players all week. Now, they’re at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round of the 63rd annual Eastern Amateur.
Christopher White started his Saturday at the head of the pack and he’s still there. The Garden City, N.Y., native turned in his third consecutive sub-par around, getting around Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club in Portsmouth, Va., in 2-under 68 to finish 54 holes in 14-under 196.
Three other players are within two shots of the lead. Kevin Johnson of Bethesda, Md., who led alone after the opening round, is just one shot back after a 5-under par 65 put him at 13-under par 197 through three rounds. Trevor Hulbert of East Tennessee State is an additional shot back after his 3-under 67 put him at 12-under par 198. Hulbert was part of the final group with White and Johnson. Charles Musto of the U.S. Naval Academy is also at 198 after a 66.
Hunter Ostrom of Notre Dame is alone in fifth place at 9-under par 201 after a 64 that matched the low round of the day.
White, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, where he played club golf, not varsity golf, went out in 2-under par 33 on Saturday after recording three birdies on his opening nine; he was even par on the back side.
White focused on playing aggressive golf without taking things to the extreme. “With the flyer lies, I’d try to hit it about 10 yards short and let it run up,” he said.”
At one point on Saturday, White enjoyed a five-shot lead but then Johnson, a recent graduate of Gonzaga College High in Washington, D.C., heated up for reasons that had nothing to do with the weather.
After going out in 1-under par 34, he started his second nine with four birdies in a span of six holes to move to 13 under for the tournament. And that’s where he finished after following a bogey at 17 with a birdie at 18.
Musto started the day tied with Johnson four shots off the pace and had an up-and-down opening nine that featured three birdies and two bogeys. He was three under par coming in after finishing his day’s work with birdies at 17 and 18.
Hulbert, who was alone in second place, three shots behind White when the day began, got off to a bumpy start; he lost two shots to par through his first six holes and was still one over par for the day when he made the turn. But he found another gear on the back side, recording birdies at the 10th, 12th, 13th, and 18th. He played his last 12 holes in five under par.
Saturday was another day when low scores were plentiful, Forty-three of the 84 players who made the cut broke par.
Ostrom’s 64 was matched by Tim Bunten of East Carolina. A total of 33 players are under par through 54 holes.
White for one is anticipating an exciting finish.
“There are definitely a few guys with chances,” he said. “You’ve got to keep making birdies without getting too aggressive; get to the 18th and see what happens.”
White, Johnson, and Musto will make up the last group on Sunday; they’ll tee off at 12:30 local time. The tournament scoring record of 22-under par 258 was set by Chris Hickman in 2014.
ABOUT THE Eastern Amateur
The Eastern Amateur is a 72 hole stroke play
event that perennially attracts a top-drawer field.
The tournament has been
played -- with the exception of 1977 and 1999 -- at
Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club. Elizabeth
Manor is a par 70 Dick Wilson design in Portsmouth,
The impressive list of winners includes U.S. Open
winners Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw, Andy Bean,
Hubert Green, Jim Furyk and Steve Jones. Other
notables who have played in the Eastern Amateur
are Lanny Wadkins, Arron Oberholser, Steve Marino,
Scott Hoch, Clarence Rose, Gary Koch, Bob Tway,
John Rollins, Fred Funk, Carl Petterson, Chip Beck,
Jim Simons, Ben Crenshaw, Steve Melnyk, Andy
Bean and Steve Liebler. Liebler won the who the
Eastern in three different decades and is the only
golfer to have ever qualified for the USGA Junior,
USGA Amateur, USGA Open, USGA Public Links,
USGA Senior Open and USGA Senior Amateur as
as representing his state in the USGA Team
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