British Senior Amateur: Todd White leads after round one
Todd White (USGA Photo)
Todd White (USGA Photo)

Seven men have won the R&A Senior Amateur and U.S. Senior Amateur Championships. Todd White wants to become the eighth. The South Carolina native is looking to add the R&A Senior Amateur at Saunton Golf Club to the U.S. Senior title he won last year.

Tracey Williamson and Jane Sly, meanwhile, are hoping to emulate last year’s winner Jackie Foster and add another English name to the roll call of R&A Women’s Senior Amateur Championship winners. Williamson and Sly are tied for the lead on three-over-par after the opening round.

White, who defeated Ireland’s Jody Fanagan 4&3 to win the 2023 U.S. Senior title, holds a two-shot lead over countryman Bob Royak, the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur champion.

Royak is ranked No. 1 in the AmateurGolf.com Senior Rankings.

Links golf debut

At least Williamson and Sly are familiar with links golf. Not White. The 56-year-old is playing the original form of golf for the first time. 

The high school history teacher didn’t look like a newbie as he posted a three-under-par 68 over Saunton’s West Course. “I’m loving it,” White admitted. “I love the challenge. It’s a lot of fun. It’s obviously a lot different from what I’m used to playing in the United States.”

White dropped two shots, bogeys at No. 10 and 15. He offset those with five birdies.

Very intriguing

“I hit a wayward tee shot on the par-5, 10th hole and lost a ball but I played smart and made a bogey to limit the damage somewhat. It’s a wonderful experience so far. I’m enjoying the fact everything is played on the ground, and I have to calculate where the ball will run out instead of flying it to a spot as we do in the States. It's very intriguing.”

U.S. players have won the R&A Senior Amateur Championship on 24 occasions. Indeed, American Paul Simson lifted the 2006 trophy at Saunton, the only other time the Devon course has staged the Championship. The odds on another United States. win are high considering there are 60 Americans in the field.

Three of the last four winners, countrymen Mike McCoy (2022), Gene Elliott (2021), and Craig Davis (2019), will push White for the title.

Defending champion in contention

White and co are up against a non-American all-star cast that features last year’s winner Brent Paterson. The New Zealander is just three shots off the pace after a level par 71 around the East Course to share third spot with George Best Wilson of England, Welshman Chris Dinsdale and Canada’s Miles McConnell.

England’s John Kemp, runner-up last year and winner of this year’s English Senior Amateur, lies in joint ninth place alongside Elliott on one over.

Surprised leaders

Williamson and Sly were surprised to be sitting atop the leaderboard when they finished. England senior international and Sheringham Golf Club member Williamson fired a 3-over-par 77 around the East Course, while Sly, who plays her golf at Mill Ride Golf Club, was three over around the West. They sit one shot ahead of Royal Portrush member Laura Webb, the 2016 and 2018 champion, and Catryn Geleijnse of The Netherlands.

Williamson, whose daughter Amelia represented Great Britain & Ireland in the 2022 Curtis Cup, forced her way to the top of the heap thanks to an eagle on the par-5, 14th hole when she holed a putt from 30 yards off the green.

“It was tough today,” Williamson said. “but I’m a still bit disappointed really, because I was a bit lax on a couple of shots. But I play golf on the coast and so I know how fickle links golf can be. That was the case today.”

Seeking redemption 

Sly is seeking redemption in this Championship.  “I’ve played in the last four and missed the cut by one shot,” Sly admitted. “I had no expectations coming here so to see my name at the top of the leaderboard alongside Tracey is a surprise to say the least. But I putted really nicely today.”

Defending champion Jackie Foster retuned a six-over-par 80. She lies in joint ninth place alongside 2022 winner Terrill Samuel of Canada, just three shots off the lead. “I was very nervous today for some reason, but there’s a long way to go,” said the Bishops Stortford member, winner of this year’s Italian and English Senior Amateur titles.

The top 50 and ties in the men’s championship and the top 30 and ties in the women’s after 36 holes progress through to the final two rounds. After 54 holes the fields are reduced to 40 and 20 respectfully.

Results: British Senior Amateur
1SCTodd WhiteSpartanburg, SC150068-78-76-69=291
2New ZealandBrent PatersonNew Zealand100071-74-76-71=292
3Northern IrelandDavid MulhollandNorthern Ireland70072-71-79-71=293
T4IAGene ElliottW. Des Moines, IA70072-76-75-71=294
T4EnglandJohn KempEngland70072-76-72-74=294

View full results for British Senior Amateur

ABOUT THE British Senior Amateur

The British Senior Amateur, called the "Seniors Amateur Championship" in the United Kingdom, was launched by The R&A in 1969 to help select a Great Britain & Ireland side to play in the World Senior Amateur Team Championship. Though the British Senior Amateur, played for the first time at Formby, was an instant success, the team event did not survive beyond 1969. Charlie Green has been the most successful player in the history of the event, winning six times in seven years beginning in 1988. Like the U.S. Senior Amateur, players must be over the age of 55 to play. Notable courses played over the years include Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, Royal Aberdeen, and Walton Heath.

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