Thursday, May 07, 2015

Walker Cup pair Nathan Smith and Todd 

White win first US four-ball, better-ball title

From Pete Kowalski (
SAN FRANCISCO – Nathan Smith and Todd White, 2013 USA Walker Cup team-mates, defeated Sherrill Britt and Greg Earnhardt, 7 and 5, in the final match to win the inaugural U.S. amateur four-ball, better-ball pairs hampionship at the Olympic Club’s Lake Course
“Great satisfaction,” said White, of winning “Great satisfaction, knowing that with Nathan here we're national champions.”
“I think Nathan's got such a good short game,” said Earnhardt, an insurance agent who battled blisters on his feet and toes for the final three rounds. 
“You know he's never out of the hole no matter where he is, and he's such a good putter and then Todd hits it so well.”
“If we played them ten times, we might beat them twice,” said Britt, a custom home builder. “But, we'd have to be rested to do it.”
Smith, 36, of Pittsburgh, and White, 47, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, began the match with wins on the first four holes, including a 14ft birdie putt by Smith on the third hole.
“Getting up (ahead) early was a big, big help,” said White, a high school history teacher who won the 2015 Azalea Amateur. 
“It freed us up to not really take chances, because you can't do that here, but just know that we could play steady golf. It's difficult to make birdies out there, so it was going to be tough for them to catch up.”
The North Carolina pair Britt, 49, of West End, and Earnhardt, 46, of Greensboro, won their only hole of the match on the fifth with a 6ft birdie putt by Earnhardt but lost the sixth to a 9ft birdie by White.
The next four holes were halved. Smith and White won the next two holes with pars to extend their lead to six holes. 
The match and the championship were clinched on the par-3 13th where White hit a 7-iron to three feet for a conceded birdie. The 7- and 5 margin was the largest in any round of the championship.
“I just didn't want to let Todd down,” said Smith, a four-time U.S. mid-amateur champion who works as an investment advisor. 
“So if you're just playing for yourself, it's kind of all on you, but I didn't want to let my partner down as we kept advancing. So for me, I felt a lot more pressure playing today than all week.”
White, with 16 past USGA championship appearances and Smith, with 33, played 76 consecutive holes in five rounds of match play without making a better-ball bogey. In 78 holes, their lone bogey, against 19 birdies, was on the second hole of the first round.
“I didn't know it was that many holes,” said Smith. “I was afraid if we made one bogey we were going to make like four in a row, so I didn't want to think about it too much.”
In a “home-town” match, Britt and Earnhardt carried their own bags in defeating Scott Harvey, 36, of Greensboro, North Carolina, and Todd Mitchell, 36, of Bloomington, Illinois, at the 19th in one of the morning’s semi-finals.
In the other semi-final, Smith and White defeated the No.2-seeded and highly regarded side of 18-year-old high school seniors Sam Burns, of Shreveport, Laouisiana, and Austin Connelly, of Irving, Texas. The younger duo, ranked 6th and 10th, respectively in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, lost 2 and 1.
 Connelly captured the Jones Cup in February and will attend Arkansas.
The winners receive custody of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship Trophy for a year as well as gold medals. Semi-final sides, which must remain intact, are exempt from qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.
Par 70. Yardage: 6,981
Sherrill Britt, West End, North Carolina and Greg Earnhardt, Greensboro, North Carolina bt Scott Harvey, Greensboro, North Carolina and Todd Mitchell, Bloomington, Illinois aT 19th.
Todd White, Spartanburg, South Carolina and Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, bt  Austin Connelly, Irving, Texas and Sam Burns, Shreveport, Louisiana, 2 and 1
White and Smith bt Britt and Earnhardt  7 and 5



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