Local Golf Notes: White not finished with ’12

SCGA player of the year gets Walker Cup practice invite

bspear@thestate.comDecember 9, 2012 

— Todd White played outstanding in three USGA events and has wrapped up his third S.C. Golf Association player of the year award, yet the highlight of his 2012 season might be yet to come.

He is one of 16 players invited to participate in a Walker Cup practice session Dec. 19-22 in Naples, Fla.

At 45, he will be the “old man” at the Walker Cup gathering. The practice begins the evaluation process to select U.S. players to compete against amateurs representing Great Britain and Ireland in September in Southampton, N.Y.

The opportunity to be involved with the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee offers no guarantees, and the 10-player squad likely will not be finalized until August. But, White said, “I can’t imagine a greater honor than representing your country, and this invitation is a great accomplishment.”

That’s later; for now, White can look back on his 2012 with satisfaction. He qualified for match play in the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur, reaching the semifinals in the latter. He added a tie for seventh in the Azalea Invitational, shared 10th in the Northeast Amateur, and tied for sixth in the South Carolina Amateur.

He represented the state in the USGA’s State Team matches and teamed with Lea Anne Brown to win the SCGA mixed-team championship.

“A good year and really a continuation of how I have been playing,” said White, a history instructor at Hilton High High School.

“It’s nice to play well, but there’s more. The people you meet along the way — other players, USGA officials, families at tournaments — all add to the experience. I went to some wonderful places and met some wonderful people.”

He was a three-sport star at Dorman High. He was all-Southern Conference four years at Furman, and arned All-America honors and won the league’s 1988 individual conference championship.

He tried pro golf for seven years before regaining amateur status. He taught at Dorman and worked on the school’s football coaching staff for 12 years before moving to Hilton Head.

“In the pros, I never had any status on (major) tours,” White said. “I got into some events and tried to catch lightning in a bottle, but that didn’t happen.”

But he never lost his thirst for golf and for competition. He concedes nothing to the younger players who generally dominate the game, and maintains his edge by working on either his game or his conditioning every day.

“That’s a conscious effort; I want to compete and I’m more competitive than ever,” he said. “Playing against younger guys heightens the challenge, but I never look at age as part of the tournament. The golf ball has no idea how old I any player is. My philosophy is to play the course.”

Chip shots

Former USC golfer Mark Silvers will compete for the finals of the Golf Channel’s Big Break Greenbrier show at 9 p.m.Tuesday. He will be joined by James Lepp, Isaac Sanchez and Chang Song in the episode. Two will advance to the finals, to be shown Dec. 18. ...

Former USC All-American Katie Burnett earned conditional status on the 2013 LPGA Tour after finishing tied for 24th in the tour’s qualifying school. Her five-round total of 2-under-par 358 missed full membership by one stroke. ...

The past two AJGA players of the year, Cody Proveaux (Leesville, 2011) and Matthew NeSmith (North Augusta, 2012), began their college careers this fall ranked among the nation’s top freshmen. Golfweek magazine gave Clemson’s Proveaux a B- grade and USC’s NeSmith a C grade for their first-semester performances. ...

The Smithfields Country Club team (Easley) won the SCJGA’s inaugural Morgan-Lucas junior club championship at Greenville Country Club’s Riverside Course with a 302. Greenville CC finished second, two strokes back.

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