James White and Christian Newton at the Palmer Cup (Updated July 1)
Tech's All-American and assistant coach with the USA Team in Northern Ireland
July 1, 2012
Newcastle, Northern Ireland - Georgia Tech All-America golfer James White is taking quite a post-graduation trip, having traveled to Scotland to play in the British Amateur Championship at Royal Troon in Scotland, and now has joined Yellow Jackets' assistant coach Christian Newton and the rest of his United States team for the Palmer Cup at Royal County Down in Newcastle, Northern Ireland June 28-30.
White, a May 5 graduate in Management from Acworth, Ga., completed his Georgia Tech career this spring having earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors three times and becoming the first Yellow Jacket golfer ever to play on four ACC Championship teams.
Rather than turn professional immediately, White remains an amateur for these two events and will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Championship later this summer before becoming a professional.
Newton has completed his fifth year as an assistant to head coach Bruce Heppler at Georgia Tech, having been awarded the Jan Strickland Award in 2011 as the nation's top assistant coach. He was appointed an assistant coach to Josh Gregory of SMU for this year's USA team and arrived in Newcastle on Monday.
The U.S. team won the 2011 Palmer Cup at the Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn., and has an 8-6-1 lead in the all-time series with Great Britain and Ireland. This is the 10th year that a Georgia Tech player or coach has been a member of the U.S. team for the Palmer Cup.
We follow James and Coach Newton along their journey through a daily diaries they are writing for Ramblinwreck.com.
James White Diary (final entry) - July 1, 2012
In summary, the final day wasn't a success. The weather was better, but the Europeans just out played every one of us. In my match I started off slow and was 2-down after three holes again, and turned 4-down. From what I could tell out there, we needed guys to turn it around on the back nine! I gave it my best shot. I won hole 10 and figured if I could win 2 holes in a row somewhere I would be right in control of the match...
I didn't win two in a row right away, but I was able to turn the tables by winning 12 and 14 to go 1-down. I headed into hole 15 thinking I could square up the match with a good drive by teeing off first and applying the pressure on a tough par 4. I hit a good drive, and one of the best 4-iron shots of my life to about 16 feet. I ended up making the putt for birdie and squared the match. It was definitely an exciting moment in my career knowing the USA was in trouble, and I needed to come back to win my match.
Unfortunately, I lost my momentum on hole 16 with a mis-play off the tee and failed I re-gain it on 17 or 18 to ultimately lose my match. As it turns out my match wouldn't have helped the team much as we got WAXED on the final day.
Hats off to Europe. Losing is never fun, but it was an experience I will never forget! I learned valuable lessons and feel like a more complete player by having played in those conditions on those courses.
Cheers! And thanks for following!
James White Diary - June 29, 2012
The United States team leads Europe 10-6 following Friday's third round, which includes eight singles matches. White and Auburn's Blayne Barber won their fourball match and lost their foursomes match Thursday, and White halved his singles match with Thomas Pieters of Belgium on Friday.
Well, today we played singles matches and I drew the reigning NCAA Champion, Thomas Pieters. The weather was difficult with wind gusts up over 30 miles per hour and driving rain. We had the occasional sunshine in between sheets of rain. Scores were high, and I definitely had to fight for every shot on every hole because I just never could predict what Thomas might do.
Several times today I thought for sure I would lose the hole, and I either halved it or won it. We did what we could in the conditions, but probably didn't play our best. I was 2-down early in the match but found a way to wriggle myself back to all square by capitalizing on his misfortunes in the bad weather. I eventually got to 1-up, my first lead in the match on hole 15, but traded holes on 16 and 17, which left me 1-up playing 18 and a chance to gain a point for the USA! I hit a poor drive and he played the hole flawlessly to leave himself a 16-footer for birdie while I had a par putt inside his birdie look. He capitalized on the situation by holing the putt and winning the 18th for a halved point, but it was a great match.
So far I am 1-1-1 - a win, loss, and a half - But excited to get after it again tomorrow!
James White Diary - June 28, 2012
The United States captured the morning four-ball matches, 3.5-0.5, and won three of the four afternoon foursomes matches to finish the day leading, 6.5-1.5. White and Blayne Barber won the first point for the U.S. with a 6 and 4 victory in their morning match, then dropped their afternoon foursomes match, 2 and 1.
The format was what we call in the states a "Best Ball" or four-ball in the morning and a foursomes match in the afternoon. My partner was my good friend Blayne Barber, and we were told if we did well in the morning we would stay together in the afternoon. We wanted nothing more than to play together all day!
The morning matches started off in the wind and rain, terrible weather. But we managed 2 birdies and a bogey through six or seven holes which gave us the lead. The rain cleared, and we were 2-up at the turn. We then made birdies at 11, 12 and 13 to go dormie 5, and we closed out the match 6&4! SUCCESS!! It was great fun and we both played our best golf on a tough course.
The afternoon was a different story. The format was alternate shot (foursomes). We struggled out of the gate going one down after the first, and gave them a few easy holes on the front nine and turned 3-down. We certainly did not give up and have them all we had for the next five holes as we got it back to where we were only 1-down with 5 holes to go, plenty of time to win the match!! It didn't go as planned, and we lost the 15th to go 2-down, and I was left with a breaking 25-footer on the 17th to keep us alive. I put a great roll on it and gave the hole a scare, but it just burned the edge. The good news is that Blayne and I were the only loss for the USA!!!
Singles start tomorrow and I can't wait to try and get some revenge for that loss!
Christian Newton Diary - Thursday, June 28, 2012
Finally the matches are underway. We knew going into today to expect anything. We were right because we had just about every kind of weather imaginable today; sideways rain, 25 mph wind, fog, sunshine and cold. It was a banner day for Team USA as we took a quick lead in the morning matches 3.5 to 0.5 all starting with James and Blayne's 6&4 win in morning four-ball matches.
We had time for a quick lunch and a uniform change. By 2 p.m., the afternoon foursomes matches were underway. We got down early in three matches, but the guys fought hard all afternoon to come back and win three of the four matches to take a 6.5 to 1.5 lead into the third round.
We were in need of some American food, and I found a local pizza place that was just the ticket. We had a great time sharing stories about the day's matches. Round 3 will be one of two remaining rounds of singles matches. James will play Thomas Pieters from Belgium who was the 2012 NCAA individual champion. It will be a great test for James to try and take down Europe's strongest player. I have seen him do lot of special things so I have confidence in him. Let's hope for another strong showing tomorrow and get one step closer to keeping the Palmer Cup in the USA!
Christian Newton Diary - Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The second practice round was completed this morning. The players were paired with members of Royal County Down and the R&A (Royal & Ancient Golf Association, which is the other governing body of golf outside the United States). Just like Tuesday it was a non-stop day with a formal lunch following the practice round.
After lunch, the coaches had a rules meeting the R&A. Those guys love their golf! The opening ceremony followed with team introductions, coaches remarks, and the raising of the flags for each country represented. There are only a handful of opportunities to represent the United States in golf, so I really soaked up the playing of our national anthem. We are so fortunate to be here!
The match-ups were also announced for Wednesday's morning four-ball matches. James will pair up with Blayne Barber of Auburn vs. David Booth of England and Graeme Robertson of Scotland. The guys are very ready to get the competition started.
The evening was capped off with another formal dinner hosted by the R&A. We had a brief team meeting following dinner and then sent the guys off for some much needed rest.
Weather for Thursday is forecast to be nasty all day, and we welcome the test. Follow both morning and afternoon matches live via www.palmercup.org starting at 730a over here. Wish us luck ... USA USA USA!!!!!
Christian Newton Diary - Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Today was the first of two practice rounds. We started the day more rested and with a traditional Irish breakfast, which was fantastic. Note, I did stay away from the blood pudding. Did you know they serve oatmeal with Bushmill's Irish whiskey in Ireland?
For today's practice round' we decided to split the team into two foursomes for the front nine and play a four-ball match amongst each other, and on the back nine, we played alternate-shot matches. I'd love to tell you about the potential pairings but I don't want to risk giving the Euros any advantage.
The golf course is amazing! It ranks as my favorite ever! I know that is it a bit blasphemous given where I'm from. We experienced pretty normal weather today. It rained most of the day, a high of 55, and I loved every minute of it. Here, you better expect the unexpected at all times! You could have sideways rain and 45 degrees one minute or 70 and sunny the next, which means the golf course can change in a matter of minutes.
After the practice round, we did a two-hour clinic for the local junior golf association. The Irish kids were so appreciative and were great to help. Afterwards, we signed autographs for the kids for nearly 30 minutes. They were much more interested in the U.S. players for some reason...
The evening was capped off with a formal banquet with both teams and a few special guests at the Royal County Down. All team members were presented with a print of the scenic ninth hole at Royal County Down, which I will treasure always. The guys are still getting adjusted to the time change, so we are off to bed early to prepare for another day. Tomorrow entails another practice in conjunction with a college/am team tournament.
It was a jammed packed day, and I can't wait for another one just like it! I am having the time of my life spending it with the guys and preparing for the big match. Until tomorrow...
James White Diary - Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Corbin Mills and I left Scotland on a ferry boat Sunday to make our way up to Northern Ireland. The boat ride was a great experience, as I had never boarded a ship so large. The ferry took us to Belfast. From Belfast, we caught a train to Victoria Street, and from there we took one of those huge double-decker buses to Newcastle where I currently am for the Palmer Cup!! We arrived at around 3 p.m. and noticed the small town had a mountainous backdrop. Knowing nothing about the town, Corbin and I set out for an adventure.
After I boat ride, train ride, and bus ride, we decided to throw on our shoes and go explore. About two hours later we had climbed over 1,000 feet, through a forest following a river. We encountered wild sheep and spectacular views of the town. Exhausted, we came back to find some food and crash at my parent's hotel for the night. This hotel was awesome, the room had TWO 12-inch TVs with four channels each. So we just went to sleep.
Monday we met up with the rest of the team and my roommate for the Palmer Cup, Blayne Barber! We are great friends and have played a lot of good golf together. We didn't do much that day, it was just a day for the rest of the team to re-gain their bearings after a lot of travel.
Tuesday started at 7 a.m. We played a practice round with the team, and like just about every other day, it was blowing up to 20 miles per hour and raining sideways. We played some fun matches against each other ... of course Blayne and I were victorious on the back nine alternate shot game we played. We were proud of ever even-par score in those conditions.
Christian Newton Diary - Monday, June 25, 2012
I would first like to say how honored and excited I am to have the opportunity to represent the United States as well as Georgia Tech in the 2012 Palmer Cup. My trip to Northern Ireland began with a flight departing Atlanta at 3:30 p.m. on June 24 to meet up with the rest of the team in Newark, N.J. From there we took a flight over to Belfast Northern Ireland which coincidentally had two major champions on board, Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley. They were headed over to play the Irish Open.
Once in Belfast the team took an hour charter bus to our eventual destination, Newcastle, Northern Ireland. With two planes and a bus, 13 hours later we arrived. We are staying at an INCREDIBLE hotel, the Slieve Donard, which is right on the Irish Sea as well as Royal County Down Golf Club!
Now the goal has been to stay awake until a normal bedtime to get properly adjusted to the 5 hour time change. US Team member Chris Williams from the University of Washington had an 8-hour time change, and he looked like a walking zombie. No official practice was scheduled today, but the practice facilities were open for a few hours. I went out to the course and observed a few hours of practice.
As I watched these guys practice I thought to myself, "man we have a good team!" What a collection of the best amateur golfers in the world, and I get to be one of their coaches for a week. What a privilege! I got a peek at the course for the week, and it simply looks amazing. I can't wait to walk the course tomorrow during our first of two practice rounds.
So that sets the scene for what hopes to be a an exciting week of golf between the U.S. and Europe. I will report back after the practice round with more updates.
James White Diary - Thursday, June 21, 2012
Today, Corbin and I met early in the morning to go play Barassie. We played early in the morning to avoid the worst of the weather. It only blew up to 20 mph and there was a slight, but tolerable rain, all morning. When we got in, a local "chap" made the comment that "they lucked out with the weather," meaning to say it wasn't so bad. Certainly I am learning to change my view golf conditions. The golfers that play over here play in what Americans would call "poor" conditions many, many more times than we do in America. Also, the game is played with so much more creativity and slightly less precision. There is hardly a chance to consistently judge in the conditions which shot will fly a golf ball exactly 125 yards, take a certain bounce, roll out so much, and end up next to the cup. I would have to say you do not hit many "stock" shots over here. There never is one spot to land the ball to get it close, you simply play the game with little regard to perfection.
Corbin has moved from his "bed in breakfast" to my hotel, where we have an extra bed, so we can practice and prepare for the Palmer Cup together over the next few days. We will be here in Irvine until Sunday when we will take a ferry to Ireland!
James White Diary - Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Today I met up with my Palmer Cup teammate Corbin Mills, who also did not find his play well enough to get through to match play at the Amateur Championship. We decided to take a day away from golf, and we found nice fishery to work on our fishing! They had equipment for fly fishing and for 13 pounds, we could have it. Neither of us have any experience at fly fishing, but we figured we would try to teach ourselves. The first 30 minutes were a complete disaster. But after an hour, my judgement would say we had taught ourselves to cast a fly! The pond was full of different types of trout, and they were jumping all around us. I'm not sure if it was our lack of knowledge or the fish's knowledge which allowed them to avoid our fly for four straight hours. Only in our imagination, we may have gotten a bite, but no fish. It was rather disappointing, but I really enjoyed fly fishing and think I would like to do it more often!
More importantly, I would have rather been playing match play and golfing my ball than casting a fly.
James White Diary - Tuesday, June 19, 2012
To sum up the second day of the stroke-play portion of the Amateur Championship, it didn't go like I wanted. I did not drive the ball particularly well, as was the case for the first round, but all in all my tee shots only penalized me one shot. I never lost a ball, and I never hit it in any pot bunkers in the fairway. I hit it in the REALLY thick heather once, and it took two shots to get out, but besides that I was around the greens a lot in regulation. I had lots of putts from just off the green, and chips. As it would turn out I three-putted my 17th hole and made par at the last to miss match play by one shot.
These greens are certainly the slowest greens I have putted in championship golf, and I just needed my speed to be better from long range with the putter. Never the less, it was good to keep myself in the tournament as long as I did with the game I had. Going forward I firstly need to improve lag putting and driving the ball in the fairway more often would help have fewer 80-foot putts. I learned that it only takes a slight breeze and a little rough to hit an 8-iron 225 yards. It's hard to judge those shots.
I am excited for the next one though!!
James White Diary - Monday, June 18, 2012
Today is the first round of the "Amateur Championship" as they call it over here, and I was "Game Number 7 off One Tee." I teed off a little after 8am, the same as the practice round, but found very little wind and lots of sunshine, conditions I haven't seen yet! What little wind there was, actually was in my face whereas it was at my back in the practice round. This made the first few holes a little more difficult, and I had to adjust. I didn't adjust well. I hit the ball all over the map, scrambling on seemingly every shot thru 8 holes.
I was 3 over par thru 8 holes, which wasn't acceptable with a few par 4's under 400 yards and two par 5's in that stretch. Again, the wind was down and only picking up as I turned. I tried not to think about where I stood and the daunting back nine ahead of me. I rolled in a 15 footer to save par on 8, hit a 9-iron to 20 feet on hole 9 and made that as well to turn at 2 over. Number 10 was the first driver I hit off the tee all day, and I flared it right. I got a really good break but made the WORST of it with a double bogey.
I didn't have time, or any reason, to worry over a poor score. Regardless, I wasn't going to come across the pond and not do all I knew to do to play well. I was doing what I could. As it turns out momentum swung my way on the next hole, number 11 when I barely missed a birdie on the toughest par 4 on the course. I ended up making three birdies on my way in to finish at one over for the day.
I am very pleased with how I finished my round. It has let me know I am never out of it, and it could have been a great score without the mistakes on the front nine. Tonight, I am watching re-runs of the U.S. Open and going out for some evening chipping and lag putting to prep for tomorrow's round. If I can keep up what I had going on the back nine today into tomorrow's round, I will be in good shape!
White shot a 1-over 72 Monday at Royal Troon in the first round of stroke play. He will play Tuesday's round at Glasgow Gailes, and the top 64 finishers after 36 holes will advance to match play.
James White Diary - Sunday, June 17, 2012
I played a practice round at Royal Troon at 8 a.m. to try and get a feel for the course conditions at the same time I would be playing in the stroke play qualifying round of the tournament. It was an overcast day with no rain fortunately. The wind died down significantly from Friday but I never saw the sun. The highlight of my day was the second hole, I holed out from 141 yards with a wedge, it was down wind. But the ones that are made in a tournament are definitely more fun! Troon turns from hole 9-10 very far from the club house. The course runs along the beach and every hole on the front nine except hole 8 is in the same direction. This means if hole 1 is down wind, every hole but number 8 will play down wind. However, the back nine does the same so every hole on the back nine plays into the wind. That is the prevailing wind.
The front nine also is by far the easier side to score on, the back nine has several par 4's over 460 yards, and one over 500 yards all playing into the wind. The key to the back nine is good driving. You can't reach any of those par 4s in two shots unless you are in the fairway.
Tonight, I am going to finish watching Saturday's round of the US Open over the internet from a receiver back home and start watching Sunday's final round. Happy Father's Day!
James White Diary - Saturday, June 16, 2012
Today, I got everything that embodies golf in Scotland. It rained, all day, and the wind blew like yesterday. Apparently it has not been the prevailing wind, so I assume Glasgow Gailes might play much differently during the qualifying rounds. The only thing I can gather from practice so far is to be patient and adaptable. I don't think there is any one specific way to play the course, each hole will be determined by the conditions of the day. Yesterday I played a driver and a 9 iron into number 17, today I hit a good drive and ran a 3 iron up on the green. There is no telling what the day will give me. However, I am looking forward to the challenge!
Tomorrow I will play my official practice round for Royal Troon. I have heard it is tight off the tee and the bunkers are where most of the trouble lies. Im excited to get out there and see what it looks like. My game feels ready.
James White Diary - Friday, June 15, 2012
Friday I played Glasgow Gailes, one of the qualifying courses, and it was a great day to get acclimated to true Scottish golf. It was 10 degrees Celsius and the wind was blowing up to 35 miles per hour, possibly more. The same way that a putt breaks on a green, I had to get used to the ball blowing sideways on full shots depending on the club I was hitting and the strength of the wind. By the end of the day, I was able to hit a few shots close and judge the bounces around the greens. I see now why they say the greens will never be running much over a 10.0 on the stimp meter. The greens, already being extremely firm, and the wind blowing as hard as it is, the course will present a handful of challenges.
All in all, it was a great day on the course, I definitely feel like it was my most productive day. I think the most important thing for me to do for the next two days is continue being creative and seeing the shots I need to hit. You just don't fly the ball and stop it from point A to point B around here like you would back home. The ball can literally bounce or fly anywhere if you aren't focused on a specific target; the correct target for that matter.
I met up with a fellow teammate on the Palmer Cup, Corbin Mills, for dinner at night and came back to the hotel to catch up on the U.S. Open! It is exciting watching young guys play well, but I will definitely be pulling for Kuchar on the weekend! GO JACKETS!
James White Diary - Thursday, June 14, 2012
I got onto a local course through a contact of one of my professors at school, Mr. Vantine. We walked 18 holes in under four hours, which was a much quicker pace than I had anticipated. However, it was nice to hit some shots around a links course and in a little wind. If there are two things I have learned so far they would be that the ball rolls forever and stay out of the bunkers. I made my first birdie in the UK on the par-3 6th hole and my first eagle on the 17th hole.
The 17th hole was a funny story. It was a 405-yard hole from the tee markers to the front edge of the green, straight away. The threesome in front of us was on the green which means we were clear to hit. Stuart, my playing partner for the day, told me if I hit one good I would be surprised how close to the green the ball would get. The tee shot was downwind and I hit my best one of the day, right down the middle. I picked up my tee and we went on. By the time we had reached Stuart's ball, I noticed a ball up on the green! I thought no way could my golf ball travel that far. As it turns out, my ball rolled up onto the middle of the green, from 420 yards away while the group in front of us was still putting. I put a good stroke on my 20-foot putt for eagle and it went in. I don't think I will ever forget my 420 yard drive.
I continued to catch up on my sleep with a small afternoon nap. I practiced later in the day at a public range and small 9-hole course. My mom and I had the same routine at night, accept this time we went down to Troon harbor for some dinner at an Oyster Bar. I ended up going to sleep again with still a little light in the sky at 10:50 p.m.
James White Diary - Wednesday, June 13, 2012
"We left for the airport in Atlanta at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Two planes, a few delays, no sleep, and a car driving on the wrong side of the road later... we arrived at our hotel in Irvine, Scotland! It was a 21-hour adventure, but couldn't be more excited to be here.
"I feel like I'm in a scene straight out of the movie Braveheart. Some people are harder to understand than others with their thick Scottish accent, but nonetheless, everyone is very welcoming and always offering help. After a small nap, I went to practice at Glasgow Gailes, one of the courses used for the British Amateur, where I saw a picture of a former teammate Chesson Hadley hanging in the clubhouse when he played in the Palmer Cup.
"The visualization of shots and the way the short game is played will take some getting used to as the greens are not elevated, and the ground is really firm. I will have to play a lot of running shots, but I plan to work on that up until tournament time! It is currently Thursday morning now, and I am about to go play a separate course aside from the British Am. This will be fun!"
Note to Tech fans: Charlie Yates, who the 1934 national collegiate championship while at Georgia Tech, also won the British Amateur Championship in 1938, also at Royal Troon.