EAST PROVIDENCE â€” This weekâ€™s 50th Annual Northeast Amateur Invitational, which begins Wednesday morning at Wannamoisett Country Club, boasts one of its strongest fields in recent years, according to tournament director Dennis Glass.
Oklahoma Stateâ€™s Peter Uihlein, the No. 1 amateur in the world, heads the field. However, the tournament took a slight hit on Saturday afternoon when second-ranked amateur Russell Henley, a senior at the University of Georgia, made the cut at the U.S. Open.
Henley, who has played a non-stop schedule for the past two months, withdrew from the Northeast on Saturday night after playing his third round at Congressional. Henley shot even par for his first 36 holes at the Open. He then caught fire on Saturday and got to four-under par through 45 holes.
At that point, he was tied for third overall behind eventual winner Rory McIlroy and Y.E. Yang, who stood second at the time. Henley then went four-over on his back nine to fall back to even par. He shot 75 on Sunday and finished 44th.
Henley, 22, has pretty much clinched a spot on this summerâ€™s Walker Cup team. So has Uihlein, for that matter. The rising senior at Oklahoma State missed the Open cut and will tee off Wednesday afternoon at the Northeast.
Besides Henley, only one other amateur played 72 holes at the Open. Brad Benjamin, who finished second at the Northeast last year behind Joseph Bramlett, shot rounds of 72 and 73 for the first 36 holes. He skied to 80 for the final two rounds. Benjamin returns to the Northeast this week.
Locally, the field includes Brian Higgins, a 37-year-old mid-amateur from Bellingham who was named Mass. Amateur of the Year in 2008 and 2010. North Providenceâ€™s Charlie Blanchard, the 2010 Rhode Island Player of the Year, also returns. The lefthander has been named R.I. Golf Association Player of the Year four times since 2001 and is a four-time R.I. Mid-Amateur champion.
On a national level, 2010 Western Amateur champion David Chung probably has the top credentials in the Northeast field, right up there with Uihlein. Chung also won the 2009 North & South championship.
Today is a day for the sponsorsâ€™ tournament at Wannamoisett, followed by the annual dinner tonight at 6:30 p.m. Then itâ€™s four days of golf, beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday with golfers teeing off in twosomes from the first and 10th tees.
Chung and Benjamin tee off on No. 1 at noon on Wednesday. Uihlein goes off No. 10 at 12:32 p.m.
Higgins, who tied for 29th place last year at eight-over par, tees it up on No. 10 tee at 8:24 on Wednesday morning. Blanchard has an 8:40 booking on the first tee.
Admission to the tournament is free. The field will be cut to the low 50 scorers and ties after Fridayâ€™s third round.
Tee times can be found at the tournamentâ€™s website: Northeastamateur.com
Live scoring can also be found on the website each day of the tournament.