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EAST PROVIDENCE â€“ Last yearâ€™s Northeast Amateur champion, Joseph Bramlett, is playing on the PGA Tour.
The top-ranked amateur in this yearâ€™s field â€“ Peter Uihlein â€“ won the U.S. Amateur championship last summer. His top-ranked status among world amateurs only makes him the hunted instead of the hunter in this yearâ€™s 50th Northeast Amateur Invitational scheduled for June 22-25 at Wannamoisett Country Club.
Uihlein is ranked No. 1 in most world amateur ratings services. The son of Acushnet Company CEO Wally Uihlein has already carved out his own name in the sport, compiling a 4-0 record in the 2009 Walker Cup and finished runnerup in both the Big 12 and NCAA championship tournaments.
Uihlein is expected to complete his senior year at Oklahoma State University before turning pro around this time next spring. He will again play in the Walker Cup (the amateur version of the Ryder Cup) this summer.
â€śI think his parents wouldnâ€™t be happy if he left college early,â€ť Northeast Amateur tourney director Denny Glass said last week while discussing the field for this yearâ€™s tournament.
â€śWe are happy that Jordan Spieth, the high schooler from Dallas, has accepted our invitation to play in the Northeast,â€ť Glass said. â€śJordan finished 16th in the Byron Nelson Classic last month while playing on a sponsorâ€™s exemption. He also made the cut there last year when he was 16 years old.â€ť
Russell Henley, the second-ranked amateur in the world, is also in the field. He recently won a Nationwide Tour event.
U.S. Amateur runnerup David Chung is another strong contender for the Northeast title. He won the 2010 Western Amateur and the Porter Cup.
The top senior in the field is Paul Simson of Raleigh, N.C., who last year won the U.S. Senior Amateur, British Senior Amateur and Canadian Senior Amateur, the first time that has even been done in the senior ranks.
Reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh, Pa. makes another appearance at the Northeast. He has contended several times for this title.
Glass thinks this is one of the strongest fields ever assembled for the Northeast.
â€śAny time itâ€™s a Walker Cup year, we get a strong field,â€ť Glass said. â€śPlayers know that this is one of the tournaments the Walker Cup captain looks at when heâ€™s picking his team.â€ť
The Northeast owns a strong international flavor again this year. Players from Argentina, Canada, Australia, Thailand, England Taipei and Korea are in the field. New England is represented by R.I. Player of the Year Charlie Blanchard of Tiverton; Jonathan Pannone, Frank Vana, Matt Broome, Bobby Leopold, John Kelly, Brian Higgins (Mass. Player of the year from Bellingham), John Hodges, Cameron Wilson and Ricky Werenski.
The 84-player field features 56 collegians, nine juniors and 19 mid-amateurs. A total of 38 colleges are represented.
The tournament begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, June 22. The field will be cut to the low 50 plus ties after Fridayâ€™s third round. The final round should end in the early afternoon with closing ceremonies tentatively scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
â€śThis is the first time we have had a cut,â€ť Glass said. â€śWe checked around with a lot of people and felt this was for the best. It saves time for the guys who are flying out of Green Airport on Saturday evening. We should finish a couple of hours earlier with the smaller field.â€ť
Admission to the tournament is free. Donations are accepted at the gate for the Burke Scholarship fund.