Originally created 07/21/02

'Laid back' Whitaker in first at city amateur



Slammed clubs, choice words and long faces were the order of the day at the Augusta City Amateur on Saturday.

For everyone, it seemed, except Chip Whitaker and Carter Newman.

On a day when most of the field went backward, Whitaker and Newman charged ahead at Forest Hills Golf Club.

Whitaker, two shots off the pace after the first round, bolted into the lead by shooting 1-under-par 71. He opened with a 72.

Newman, who was five shots off the lead and tied for 13th place after a first-round 75, matched Whitaker's 71 and moved into second place, three shots behind the leader.

Whitaker and Newman, along with Steve Chapman, had the lone sub-par rounds of the day. Chapman opened with a 79 and is seven shots off the lead.

The combination of heat and slow, grainy greens made for high scores. Even first-round leader Bob Varn, a 53-year-old veteran, wasn't immune. The Orangeburg, S.C., golfer, who opened with a 70, shot 78 and is six shots back.

Jeff Pope, who shot 76 Saturday, is four shots back and 52-year-old Chuck Withers (75) is five back. Defending champion Jay Blackburn (77 Saturday) is six back, along with Chris Kuhlke (74) and Bill Kendall (74).

Whitaker's unflappable demeanor helped him keep his score on the right side of par on a difficult day. He even held his emotions in check when his drive on the 12th hit a hard spot in the fairway and rolled into the water.

"I'm pretty laid back," Whitaker said. "I had my emotions on an even keel today."

Whitaker was 3-under for the day going into No. 12, which he bogeyed after finding the water. He also bogeyed No. 13, then parred in.

Over the final five holes, Whitaker was aware he had a comfortable lead.

"I started playing a little safe," Whitaker said.

Whitaker came into the city amateur on a roll. He won the adult division of the Georgia Games Championships a week ago at the Augusta Golf Course, where he shot 65-70-135. Now, he can add the Augusta City Amateur trophy to his gold medal.

Whitaker is at 1-under 143 for 36 holes, exactly where he was at this time last year in this tournament. He entered the final round tied for the lead with Blackburn, but Whitaker shot 78 and finished fourth.

"Last year, I'd never been in that position before, tied for the lead in a Regions Cup tournament, especially in a prestigious tournament like the city amateur," the 33-year-old Whitaker said.

Newman, the 15-year-old son of former Augusta State golfer Deane Newman, will experience that feeling today.

"I'm hoping I can play well," said Newman, who is home schooled. "I've never really played against amateurs like this. I usually play in junior tournaments."

Newman's round was jump-started by a eagle on the par-4 third hole, where he holed out a 100-yard sand wedge shot. He added birdies on Nos. 9 and 12 to offset three bogeys.

Today's starting times

8 a.m.-Gilliam, Blalock, Stallings, Rhodes.
8:10-Hill, Hawkins, Clements, Turner.
8:20-Rhodes, Schrimsher, Johnson, Macky.
8:30-Harve Mobley, Blackman, Williams, Lilly.
8:40-Freeman, Moye, Kayea, Brown.
8:50-Patterson, Johnson, Ben Payne, Samuels.
9-McKenney, Salazar, Griffin, Davenport.
9:10-Cathey, LaPorte, Bissell, McKenzie.
9:20-Mike Kelley, Mixon, Philip Kelly, Neal.
9:30-Coia, Ingalls, Cartledge.
9:40-Shiver, Long, Klaus.
9:50-Henry, Ross Tilton, Polston, Bland.
10-Zac Tilton, Gurevitch, Benjamin, Walker.
10:10-Hidden, Kim, McKenney, Ken Moody.
10:20-Weiss, Ernyei, Armstrong, Pritchard.
10:30-Al Nelson, Yount, O'Connell, Abate.
10:40-Sapp, Trotter, Crawford.
10:50-Hopper, Bussey, Russell Maddox.
11-Steve Moody, Atchison, Rogers.
11:10-Templeton, Bowden, Richards, Dawkins.
11:20-Steve Nelson, Vigna, Jones, Baldwin.
11:30-Edeburn, Taylor, Watkins, Hutcheson.
11:40-Sessums, Ed Payne, Benham, Marchant.
11:50-Gause, Hartline, Jackson.
Noon-Hanson, Withers, Varn.
12:10-Howard, Chapman, Lee, Taft.
12:20-Smith, Blackburn, Kuhlke, Kendall.
12:30-Pope, Newman, Whitaker.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-085.1