Walker Cup teammates Smith, White win Four-Ball
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Walker Cup teammates Nathan Smith and Todd White won the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball on Wednesday, beating Sherrill Britt and Greg Earnhardt 7 and 5 in the championship match.
Smith and White won the first four holes at Olympic Club, Britt and Earnhardt took the fourth with a birdie, and Smith and White birdied the sixth to regain their 4-up lead. Smith and White won Nos. 11 and 12 with pars and ended the match with a conceded birdie on the par-3 13th.
''Getting up early was a big, big help,'' said the 47-year-old White, a high school history teacher in Spartanburg, South Carolina. ''It freed us up to, not really take chances, because you can't do that here, but just knowing that we could play steady golf. It's difficult to make birdies out there, so it was going to be tough for them to catch up.''
The 7-and-5 decision was the largest margin of the event.
''I just didn't want to let Todd down,'' Smith said. ''If you're just playing for yourself, it's kind of all on you, but I didn't want to let my partner down as we kept advancing. So for me, I felt a lot more pressure playing today than all week.''
Smith and White had three birdies in the final match. After bogeying the second hole of their first match, they were bogey-free in their final 76 holes - making 19 birdies in that span.
''I didn't know it was that many holes,'' said Smith, a 36-year-old Pittsburgh investment adviser and four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. ''I was afraid if we made one bogey we were going to make like four in a row, so I didn't want to think about it too much.''
White was headed back to Spartanburg High School on Thursday morning.
''What am I teaching tomorrow? U.S. government class,'' White said. ''I should get to school probably around 10 o'clock with my connection in from Atlanta.''
The 49-year-old Britt is a home builder in West End, North Carolina, and the 46-year-old Earnhardt is an insurance agent in Greensboro, North Carolina. They had five bogeys - three on the first four holes - and only one birdie in the final.
''I think Nathan's got such a good short game,'' said Earnhardt, who battled blisters on his feet and toes for the final three rounds. ''You know he's never out of the hole no matter where he is, and he's such a good putter and then Todd hits it so well.''
Said Britt: ''If we played them 10 times, we might beat them twice. But, we'd have to be rested to do it.''
In the morning semifinals, Smith and White topped 18-year-olds Austin Connelly and Sam Burns 2 and 1, and Britt and Earnhardt outlasted Scott Harvey and Todd Mitchell in 19 holes.
The Four-Ball replaced the U.S. Amateur Public Links on the USGA calendar.