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Hanover’s Williamson Has Pro Ambitions

Hanover's Peter Williamson watches a competitor's shot on the eighth green of Charter Oak Country Club in Hudson, Mass., during a U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on July 24, 2012. Williamson is expected to turn pro in the coming months after missing the cut at this week's U.S. Amateur in Brookline, Mass. Valley News file -- Greg Fennell

Hanover's Peter Williamson watches a competitor's shot on the eighth green of Charter Oak Country Club in Hudson, Mass., during a U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on July 24, 2012. Williamson is expected to turn pro in the coming months after missing the cut at this week's U.S. Amateur in Brookline, Mass. Valley News file -- Greg Fennell Purchase photo reprints »

Hanover — Connections get you places. Peter Williamson has made enough of them the past few years that a summer lacking success isn’t going to derail his plans.

The Hanover High and Dartmouth College graduate’s next destination is professional golf. His final amateur tournament ended like much of this summer has, a disappointing cut following stroke-play qualifying at this week’s United States Amateur in Brookline, Mass.

Williamson confirmed he’ll turn pro this fall in an interview before this week’s U.S. Amateur in Brookline, Mass. The most likely debut will be at qualifying school for the Web.com Tour, the PGA Tour’s minor league circuit, although connections he’s made in golf the past year may open doors for opportunities sooner rather than later.

“I’ve been talking to agents for a little over a year now and talking with equipment companies,” Williamson said in a phone interview last week. “I’m starting to figure out what clubs will work and what won’t. I feel more secure there.

“I’ll pick an agent, get a schedule and do Q-school to get on the Web.com Tour. I’ll be doing European (PGA) Q-school, too. If it doesn’t go well, I’ll play as many tournaments as I can.”

All of this planning goes on with the knowledge that Williamson is giving himself only so much time to get where he wants to go.

In May 2012, after he completed a four-year career at Dartmouth that included three Ivy League player of the year awards, Williamson embarked on a summer amateur schedule that went better than he could have imagined. He won the North & South Amateur at North Carolina’s Pinehurst Resort and the Southern Amateur in Arkansas, reached the match play semifinals at the Western Amateur in Illinois and made match play at the U.S. Amateur outside Denver.

Points accumulated with those successes shot Williamson up the World Amateur Golf Rankings — to as high as No. 7 at one point — which led to an invitation to join American prospects for this year’s Walker Cup matches for a weekend camp in Naples, Fla., last December. Williamson was three months into a move to Jupiter, Fla., by then, taking advantage of year-round golf to make changes in his swing mechanics that would better suit a professional future.

“It was fun to be with those guys; I don’t see them in college (golf),” Williamson said. “Last summer was the first time I’d been on that circuit, and being around the elite of the elite was fun.”

Unfortunately, the swing tweaks didn’t produce the same results this summer as they did the last. Any lingering hopes to make next month’s Walker Cup squad likely ended with Williamson’s elimination at Brookline on Tuesday.

That said, the successes of 2012 paid off in some benefits in 2013.

Winning the Southern came with an invitation — should he remain an amateur — to the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational last March. When a first bid at Q-school fell short last October, Williamson followed through on the Bay Hill invite, and connections made there resulted in a trip to Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament in Ohio the weekend after Memorial Day.

The 23-year-old knows that his is a unique story. The number of Ivy Leaguers from New Hampshire plying their trade in professional golf probably couldn’t be counted on the fingers of one hand. That doesn’t hurt in connection world.

“An agent will help with scheduling; hopefully I’ll get sponsor invitations from time to time, use the connections,” he said. “That’s what an agent will help with: Pick Dartmouth, pick the Ivy League, pick New Hampshire, anyone with those ties, and try to make a good story of it and take advantage of it. I got two in Bay Hill and the Memorial. I learned a lot through it. I had a fun two days (at each), wish I could have played better and made things easier. It was what I needed to see to get better.”

Williamson faces changes in the Q-school system as he moves to the professional ranks; the same three-stage process remains, but a Web.com Tour slot awaits, not one in the majors. European PGA Tour Q-school intrigues him, even if it would require up to three trips across the Atlantic to compete.

The past calendar year can perhaps be called the typical college graduate’s break before entering the working world. If so, then Williamson’s clock marking the time to connect on his desired future has starting ticking.

“At this point, I don’t want to go into a developmental tour,” he said. “I can do that for a little bit, but I went to Dartmouth for a reason. I have that backup plan if golf doesn’t build into what it can.

“I’m giving it three to five years. I’ll look at it logically, and I should be up to playing at a top level. If I am, great; if not, I have a backup. I’ll have fun with it.”

Vermont Women’s Amateur: Quechee Club member Patricia DeCaire is tied for ninth place after the first day of the rain-altered Vermont State Women’s Golf Association amateur championship at Manchester Country Club.

With wet weather canceling Tuesday’s opening round, VSWGA officials had the tournament’s 65 competitors play 27 holes on Wednesday. DeCaire shot a round of 88 over the opening 18 holes, then produced the day’s best extra nine, a 37, to share ninth with Rutland’s Mary Jane Shomo at 125. Meriden’s Kathy Allbright, playing out of Killington’s Green Mountain National Golf Course, is right behind in a three-way tie for 11th at 128.

Lang Farm’s Madison Corley leads the tournament at 76-40—116, two shots better than defending champion Holly Reynolds of Morristown’s Copley Country Club and Rutland’s Kristen Mahoney. This year’s champ will be crowned after a final 18-hole round today.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.