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August 11. 2013 7:27PM

Top U.S. amateur golfers, including five from NH, tee off today

Five New Hampshire golfers are ready to tee it up today in the opening round of this week’s 113th U.S. Amateur Championship at The Country Club (TCC) in Brookline, Mass.

Hanover’s Peter Williamson, Chelso Barrett of Keene, Bedford’s Will McLaughlin, Chris Houston of Gilford, and Evan Russell of Grantham will be among the field of the nation’s top amateur golfers as play opens on Day 1 of the championship.

The field of 312 golfers will play two days of stroke play, today and tomorrow. Half the field will play The Country Club each day and the other half will play Charles River Country Club in nearby Newton, Mass. Each player will play one round on each of the courses.

Williamson, 23, is a Dartmouth grad and a three-time Ivy League champion. He has been a self-taught golfer since his grandmother showed him how to properly hold a golf club at the age of 2.

He has competed in four U.S. Amateur Championships, four U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships and one U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. As a child, Williamson built golf holes out of snow to work on his game during the winter.

He chose to attend Dartmouth so he could help to improve the golf program while succeeding academically, and is a three-time Ivy League champion.

He tees off today at 7:10 a.m. at Charles River Country Club.

Chelso Barrett, 18, is a member of the Barrett family, which owns Bretwood Golf Club in Keene. He won the NHGA Stroke Play Championship at Green Meadow in Hudson last week, and will head off to Texas Christian University this fall on a golf scholarship.

He earned medalist honors out of the Tyngsboro, Mass., sectional. This will be his third consecutive U.S. Amateur. He competed in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Barrett also competed in the 2010 and 2011 U.S. Junior Amateurs, finishing as the runner-up to Jordan Spieth in 2011. He is slated to tee off today at 12:45 p.m. at Charles River Country Club.

McLaughlin, 27, played college golf at The College of New Jersey. He is a member of Concord Country Club. According to a USGA news release, McLaughlin grew up on a property known as “the compound” with six different households of relatives, which was centered on a baseball field and other athletic equipment — including a sandbox — that his father (the general manager of a golf course) turned into a bunker.

McLaughlin tees off at 1:15 p.m. Monday at Charles River Country Club.

Houston is a sophomore on the Penn State golf team, and a graduate of Gilford High School. He tees off at 1:55 p.m. Monday at Charles River Country Club.

Russell is a Kimball Union Academy graduate and sophomore on the University of Hartford golf team. Last month he won the New England Amateur at Killington in Vermont. He tees off today at 1:25 p.m. at TCC.

The Country Club has seen its share of golf history, including 15 USGA championships. Today it adds to its lore, joining Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., as the only two clubs to have hosted the U.S. Amateur, the oldest golf championship in the country, six times.

The Country Club hosted at least one USGA championship in every decade of the 20th century, most memorably Francis Ouimet’s 1913 U.S. Open victory, known affectionately as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

In that match, a 20-year-old amateur named Francis Ouimet, who lived across the street from TCC, defeated English professional Harry Vardon, arguably the most famous golfer of the age, to win the title.

Most recently, TCC hosted the 1995 U.S. Women’s Amateur, and the 1999 Ryder Cup, when the United States overcame a 12-6 deficit on the final day to defeat Europe’s best golfers and retain the cup.

The U.S. Amateur consists of 36 holes of stroke play on Aug. 12 and 13 at the 7,310-yard, par-70 The Country Club and the 6,547-yard, par-70 Charles River Country Club, after which the 312-player field will be reduced to the low 64 scorers. There will be six rounds of match play at The Country Club, starting Aug. 14.

The quarterfinals and semifinals are slated for Aug. 16 and 17, respectively. The championship is scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday, Aug. 18, starting at 9 a.m.

Defending champion Steven Fox will try to become the first golfer to repeat as U.S. Amateur champion since Tiger Woods won three in a row from 1994-96.

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