U.S. Senior Amateur: Medalist Todd White advances in dramatic fashion
Todd White (USGA Photo)
Todd White (USGA Photo)

Don’t expect Todd White to be invited to any gatherings at the Gunthorpe household in Michigan. For the second time in four years, the Spartanburg, S.C., native knocked out a Gunthorpe family member in the Round of 64 of a USGA championship.

On another Chamber-of-commerce day in the Lake Tahoe area – clear, blue skies and temperatures in the low 80s with low humidity – the top-seed and medalist White outlasted 2021 runner-up Jerry Gunthorpe, 1 up, in the 68th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at Martis Camp Club on Monday. In the 2019 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Colorado Golf Club, the high school history teacher defeated Jerry’s son, Nicholas, 4 and 3.

This one was much tighter.

Gunthorpe, who was the last man into the 64-player, match-play draw for the second consecutive year, gave the 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champion and 2013 USA Walker Cupper quite a tussle. The match finally turned on the par-3 17th hole when Gunthorpe, 60, three-putted to lose the hole.

With the contest all tied on No. 18, Gunthorpe came up short with his approach and failed to get up and down for par, missing an 8-footer. White, 55, calmly two-putted from 50 feet, draining a 3-footer for par to earn a spot in the final 32 against 2023 R&A Senior Amateur champion Brent Paterson, of New Zealand.

“When I saw the draw after the playoff [for the final match-play spots], this is the reward I get for being medalist?” said White, who posted even-par 144 in stroke play to best the field. “You expect that. Almost every guy you see on the board for match play, they are all tested. And you know they’re going to play.”

White struggled all day with his driver, hitting only five fairways. That negated his strength – iron play – because he spent so much time playing from U.S. Open-like rough. Throw in a couple of three-putts, and the 2023 South Carolina Amateur champion seemingly was playing from behind the entire match.

Before winning No. 18, he only held the lead for two holes after taking a brief advantage with a birdie on the par-5 fourth hole. Gunthorpe tied it on No. 7 and never trailed again until the closing hole.

“It’s not good enough,” said a disappointed Gunthorpe, who lost to top-seeded Miles McConnell in 19 holes a year ago at The Kittansett Club. “I’ve been struggling all week. It never went away. I’ve had putting woes, and my pace has been off all week. Uphill, downhill, sidehill, I just never got it right. And today kind of showed it through the round.”

Tim Hogarth’s first experience with the U.S. Senior Amateur two years ago was bittersweet. The Northridge, Calif., resident posted 134 in stroke play to earn medalist honors at the Country Club of Detroit, only to succumb to his own self-imposed pressure in the Round of 64 with a 21-hole defeat to fellow Southern Californian Kory Frost.

This year, Hogarth entered match play as the No. 24 seed and playing with different expectations, he rolled to an 8-and-7 victory over John Hadges, shooting the equivalent of 7 under par that included a chip-in eagle. It matched the largest margin of victory in the championship, a mark that had been achieved 10 times previously, the last in 2019 by Bob Royak en route to his title at Old Chatham Golf Club.

Hogarth rolled in an 80-foot birdie on the par-4 ninth and then chipped in for eagle from a tough lie 30 yards out on the par-5 10th to go 7 up. He closed out the match with another birdie on No. 11.

“That was probably the most ridiculous 15 minutes of golf I have played in a long time,” said Hogarth, 57, the 1996 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion. “I hit a 3-wood short of the green into a heavy lie and kind of impossible spot and [the chip] somehow went in. It was probably 30 yards, but there was a big slope in front of me that had to kill the ball and then pop it up. It was like one in a 100 [to make it].”

Speaking of odds, it didn’t look promising for U.S. Senior Amateur rookie Mike Henry, 55, of Bloomington, Ill., on Saturday night after an opening-round 84. But on Sunday, he went 14 strokes better, posting the day’s best round and then he continued the momentum with a 1-up victory over 1979 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Jack Larkin Sr., of Atlanta, Ga.

Henry built a 4-up lead through 12 holes before Larkin began chipping away at the deficit. With Henry 1 up on No. 18, Larkin knocked his approach 20 feet above the hole. Henry followed with a shot to 15 feet. A loud noise erupted when Larkin converted his birdie putt. Henry cooly responded by making his putt to seal a win and set up a Round-of-32 encounter with Hogarth on Tuesday morning.

“I came out today and felt like I was playing with house money,” said Henry. “Jack is just a stud. The shot he hit in here [to 18] and that [20-foot birdie] putt. It did free me up a little bit. The fact that I had to make it or we’re going to one [for extra holes].”

Four other past U.S. Senior Amateur champions also advanced. Doug Hanzel (2013), 66, of Savannah, Ga., raised his overall match-play record to 28-9 with a 2-and-1 decision over Sandy Pierce, of Houston, Texas.

Chip Lutz (2015), 68, of Jupiter, Fla., playing in front of more than a dozen family members, rolled to a 5-and-4 win over Lee Porter, of Pinehurst, N.C. Bob Royak (2019), 61, of Alpharetta, Ga., rallied to win Nos. 17 and 18 with pars to outlast David Levan, of Ann Arbor, Mich., 1 up. And Dave Ryan (2016), 69, of Taylorville, Ill., edged 2021 semifinalist Craig Davis, of Chula Vista, Calif., 1 up.

Lutz and Royak will meet in the Round of 32 on Tuesday at 8:55 a.m. PDT.

Two past champions, Gene Elliott (2021) and Jeff Wilson (2018) were both knocked out. Craig Steinberg, 65, of Agoura Hills, Calif., a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinalist competing in his 31st USGA championship, won the final two holes with pars to defeat Elliott. Steinberg converted a 20-footer for par – “It was literally the first 20-footer I made in three days” – to tie the match and when Elliott failed to reach the green in five shots, he conceded Steinberg’s 3-footer. Steinberg is now 6-0 in Round-of-64 matches in the U.S. Senior Amateur.

Wilson fell to Joe Palmer, 61, of Norwalk, Iowa, 5 and 3.

Results: U.S. Senior Amateur
WinSCTodd WhiteSpartanburg, SC2000
Runner-upIrelandJody FanaganIreland1500
SemifinalsVARoger NewsomVirginia Beach, VA1000
SemifinalsGABob RoyakAlpharetta, GA1000
QuarterfinalsILMike HenryBloomington, IL700

View full results for U.S. Senior Amateur

ABOUT THE U.S. Senior Amateur

The USGA Senior Amateur is open to those with a USGA Handicap Index of 7.4 or lower, who are 55 or older on or before the day the championship begins. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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