July 16, 2012

Dalton's Noll close but short at state amateur golf tournament

Defending champion David Noll Jr. believed a 67 in the final round of the Georgia Amateur Championship would win the tournament.

He was right.

Unfortunately for Noll, despite having the best round of the day, he couldn’t catch Augusta’s Lee Knox. Noll shot a 3-under-par 69 and nearly erased a five-stroke deficit, but Knox was able to hold off the charge of the two-time champion to win with a four-round total of 6-under par 282.

Noll finished alone in second place at 5-under (283) for the 72-hole Georgia State Golf Ass-ociation tournament, which was held at Ansley Golf Club’s Set-tindown Creek course in Roswell.

“I tried, but after 36 holes, if you would have told me I would shoot 6-under for the weekend, I would have taken it,” said Noll, who also won the tournament in 2003. “I just came up a little short.”

Noll continued an impressive run at the state amateur, though. It was the eighth year in a row he has finished in the top six; this is his third runner-up finish.

“I am a little disappointed, but ultimately those first two days got me behind, and I was playing catch-up from there,” said Noll, the winner of the GSGA Men’s Player of the Year the past five years.

Noll was at 1-over for the tournament after Friday’s second round.

He got the fast start he was looking for on Sunday with a birdie on the second hole, an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole and a birdie on No. 8 to make the turn at 6-under for the tournament. When he birdied the 10th hole and Knox, playing in the pairing behind Noll, bogeyed the 10th, Noll was within a shot of the lead. A Knox bogey on the 11th put the two in a tie at 7-under with seven holes to play. Noll then bogeyed the 12th to give Knox his one-stroke cushion back.

If Noll had one hole to blame for his second-place finish in the tournament, it was the 455-yard, par-4 14th. After parring the hole in the first round, Noll finished bogey-bogey-double bogey in his next three tries. Sunday’s double was especially costly even though Knox, a senior at the University of Alabama, bogeyed the hole.

The cushion was all he needed.

“It was a tough hole,” Noll said. “It just didn’t set up for me.”

Both players birdied the par-4 15th, and the two-stroke lead was enough for Knox, who gave stroke back with a bogey on 17.

Three players tied for third at 285, including David Yowell of Marietta, Michael Garretson of Acworth and Matt Russell of Dunwoody. Chris Waters of Athens finished alone in sixth at 1-under 287, the only other player to finish under par for the tournament.

Scott Weeks of Savannah, who shared the opening-round lead with Knox, finished seventh at 1-over 289.  Ridge Purcell of LaGrange and another first-round co-leader, Robert Sheats of Atlanta, tied for eighth at 290. Charlie Harrison of Atlanta placed 10th at 291, while Chad Wilson of Calhoun and Jimmy Beck of Columbus tied for 11th at 292.

Five players tied for 13th at 293, including John Hopper of Eatonton, J.P. Griffin of Glennville, Franco Castro of Alpharetta, Mark Strickland of Woodstock and Will Evans of McDonough. The top 15 finishers (including ties) are exempt into next year’s Amateur Championship.

Rocky Face’s Will Snipes finished tied with three others for 27th at 8-over after shooting a 77 in the final round. Eatonton’s Bill Faith, a former Dalton resident, tied for 30th with a 297.

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