EAST PROVIDENCE — Peter Uihlein looked a little bit like Secretariat running away from the field while galloping to a tournament-record score of 261 on Saturday en route to victory in the 50th Annual Northeast Amateur Invitational.
Uihlein opened up a six-shot lead midway through the final nine before bogeying No. 17 and finishing at 15-under for the tournament, breaking Dan Woltman’s existing mark of 11-under set in 2009.
Runnerup James White also broke the tournament record with a score of 262. The Georgia Tech rising senior played one group ahead of Uihlein and closed with a 64.
“I held the tournament record for 11 minutes,” he jokingly told reporters after Uihlein two-putted the 18th green for a finishing par.
In the lowest-scoring Northeast Amateur ever, Uihlein’s closing round of 65 was more than enough to turn back any threats. On this final day, another 62 was placed into the record books by Emiliano Grillo, who used his hot finish to tie for fifth place at eight-under par. (Uihlein had shot 62 on Friday.)
The tournament had begun on Wednesday with Luke Guthrie’s new tournament record 18-hole score of 61.
“I played with Luke in the first two rounds,” White said. “His 61 told me there were good scores to be had. This was my first time here and I had been told that the course plays firm and fast but all of the rain we had this week softened it up. If you could control your distance and spin with your irons, you could definitely make some birdies.”
Uihlein’s main challenger on Saturday was his playing partner, Patrick Rodgers, an 18-year-old from the Indianapolis suburbs who stood second after Friday’s third round. Rodgers needed to make up three shots on Uihlein during the final round. When Uihlein bogeyed No. 1, the game was on. Rodgers parred his first four holes while Uihlein got back to even on the day by making bird on the second hole, which played as the most difficult hole on the golf course during the 72-hole event.
Rodgers then made his move with birdies on five, six and seven. Uihlein, hardly rattled, birdied eight and nine. Both players shot 31 on the par 34 front side.
On the back, Uihlein birdied the par four 11th from six feet. Both players were giving themselves birdie putts on almost every hole.
The tide finally turned on the 13th hole with Uihlein hit his tee shot left into the trees about 80 yards short of the green. His second shot caught a branch and came to rest in a sand trap, 10 yards from the green. Another trap lay between Uihlein and the pin.
Meanwhile, Rodgers hit a wedge pin-high that spun 30 feet back to the fringe.
Uihlein showed the depth of his shotmaking when he hit his sand shot four feet from the hole. Rodgers rapped his first putt three feet past the cup. Uihlein made his par putt and Rodgers missed his. Now it was a four-shot advantage for Uihlein and when Rodgers three-putted the 14th from eight feet, the competition was no longer close.
“I hit a bad shot on 13,” Rodgers said. “I had 102 yards to the pin. I wanted to land a couple yards past the pin but it hit pin-high and spun back. Probably hit the wrong club there. Then I was too aggressive with my first putt and hit it past the hole. I think that hole was the turning point.”
Rodgers, who will begin his freshman year at Stanford in September, hit it to eight feet on 14 and three-putted again. To his credit, he finished with three pars and a birdie over the final four holes for a score of 67.
“This was a great learning experience for me,” Rodgers said. “I got to play three rounds with Peter Uihlein, the No. 1 amateur in the world. I learned I could hang with him. There’s so much more I still have to learn about playing golf at this level.”
Uihlein once again credited a better game plan this year for his victory at Wannamoisett. He now turns his sights to the PGA Tour, where he will compete as an amateur next week in the AT&T championship. Uihlein also will play in the British Open next month.