The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 16, 2013

Sunnehanna notebook: Putting critical to success at Amateur

Mike Kovak

— Cory Whitsett capped his third round at the 60th Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions with a lengthy par putt.

Whitsett topped himself to end Sunday’s fourth and final round with a birdie putt from approximately 35 feet in No. 18.

“It was good. I putted well today,” Whitsett said. “I wasn’t too shocked to see that one go in.”

There’s a good chance that Whitsett wouldn’t have minded if the 18th green was situated on several of the par-3 holes at Sunnehanna Country Club. The same could be said for several other golfers that entered the final round chasing Steven Ihm, who won the tournament with an 8-under 272.

The par-3 holes, particularly on the back nine, proved troublesome.

“I bogeyed the last two par-3s on the back nine,” said Mike Miller, who finished tied for third with Rick Lamb at 5-under. “They sure didn’t set it up easy for us.”

Lamb was coming off birdies on Nos. 7, 8, 10 and 12 before running into the tricky 14th hole. Lamb trailed Ihm by three shots heading into the hole. He left it basically out of contention.

“The 14th was tough. I finished No. 10 with a birdie, but other than that, there were some tough par 3s,” Lamb said. “On a course like this, you can pretty much weed out the people who aren’t great at putting. You have to sink a couple five- to 10-footers to have a chance.”

Even Ihm struggled on the back nine as he bogeyed every par 3 – Nos. 10, 14 and 16.

So did nearly everyone else.

At the 16th hole, Whitsett had an opportunity to save par and close within two strokes of Ihm with two holes to play, but a tricky six-footer didn’t fall.

“A lot can happen here. The greens have so much slope,” Whitsett said. “You can three putt in no time.”

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Stepping down: After the awards ceremony on the 18th green, Denver Wharton and James Hargreaves – co-chairmen of the Sunnehanna Amateur – announced they were leaving their posts.

It ends a 12-year run for the duo, though they will remain on the Sunnehanna Amateur Committee.

Brian Chirillo and John Yerger will serve as co-chairmen next year.

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Low number: Matthew NeSmith, a member of the 2013 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team out of South Carolina, posted Sunday’s low round with a bogey-free 65.

The surge moved NeSmith from a tie for 20th into a tie for sixth place with Rodolfo Cazaubon and Carlos Ortiz. NeSmith birdied Nos. 4, 6, 10, 11 and 13.

It was a stark contrast from his third-round score. NeSmith failed to card a birdie Saturday and he finished the round 5-over.