EDGEFIELD, S.C. — At the start of this season, the Regions Bank Amateur Series was in dire need of new stars to step up and give kingpin Jeff Pope some competition now that Jay Blackburn and Doug Weiss seldom tee it up on the circuit anymore.
That’s exactly what has happened.
In the fifth Regions event of the season, two more strong players emerged at waterlogged Pine Ridge Country Club on Sunday, when Lewis White won the Perry Watson Memorial and fellow Augustan Nix Duncan finished second.
The 29-year-old White, who moved to Augusta two years ago from Spartanburg, S.C., and was playing in his third Regions event, shot 68-73 to beat Duncan by five shots.
Duncan, a 20-year-old former Aquinas soccer standout who has been playing competitive golf for two years, shot 71-75, including a triple bogey on his second-to-last hole. It was Nix’s second career start in the series.
White and Duncan join Kelby Burton and Steve Foss as potential rivals for Pope, who skipped the Perry Watson Memorial but will return this week for the Augusta City Amateur, where he is the defending champion.
Pope, the Regions player of the year in 2012, has won eight of his past 12 starts, dating back to late 2011.
White won’t be able to play in the city amateur this week but plans to play in three of the final four events.
“It’s been great,” White said of the Regions series. “It’s a great group of guys. There are some good players.”
The senior division went down to the final hole before Augusta’s Greg Scurlock held off North Augusta’s Tommy Carpenter.
Scurlock, 64, made an 8-foot par putt on the 18th hole to shoot even-par 72 and edge out Carpenter by a shot.
“I knew how we stood because I was keeping his scorecard,” Scurlock said. “He’s got a beautiful game. Good night, I was really impressed with his game.”
The 54-year-old Carpenter, who has already won twice this year and trailed Scurlock by a shot after the first round, closed with 72.
Carpenter, a former pro, had never met Scurlock, a savvy veteran who has multiple senior division Regions victories but plays only sporadically.
“He’s very solid; he held up very well,” Carpenter said. “He moves it out there good. He made big up-and-downs (to save pars) on 17 and 18.
Lewis, the regular division winner, had never seen Pine Ridge before he played a practice round there Tuesday.
“I like the course; it is set up very long and I hit my long irons really well this weekend,” White said.
White knows the course well now – especially the back nine.
The golfers played the front and back nine in the first round to a par of 71, but because of more rain Saturday night, the front nine was too wet to play Sunday. According to head pro Kurt Kaltz, the course has taken on nine inches of rain since July 3, and it showed.
So the field played the back nine twice (to a par of 72) on Sunday, sometimes in dreadful conditions.
The weather was so bad at the start of the round that Kaltz told the field there was a chance the event would be shortened to a 27-hole tournament.
They fought through what Carpenter called “brutal” conditions in the morning.
“I felt I played 18 holes the first nine,” Carpenter said. “I felt like I played a 27-hole event today with the rain, wind and wet ground.”