June 4, 2013

Course timing helps Phillips to NGI win

Suwanee’s Donny Phillips went out early Saturday and came in late Sunday during the North Georgia Invitational at Dalton Golf & Country Club.

He believes the timing — in both instances — helped him win.

While golfers who played their first round on Saturday had to deal with wet conditions on the course and suspended play — some competitors had to finish the first round early Sunday morning — Phillips opened with a par 72 that put him firmly in contention.

Then he was able to take advantage of Sunday’s lift-clean-and-replace course rules due to wet conditions. It helped him to a 6-under 66 for a two-day total of 138 and a two-stroke victory in the tournament.

“I was one of the lucky guys,” Phillips said. “I played Saturday morning and the course was in great shape and we finished before any rain came in during the afternoon. Those guys who went out in the afternoon played a much tougher course.

“The only thing I had to deal with was a late afternoon tee time on Sunday, and that gave me more time with my family on Sunday morning. Even with all of the weather conditions, they did a great job of getting the course ready for play.”

Phillips, 54, said he has played in the NGI “probably 25 times,” but this was his first victory in the tournament after being runner-up three times. Playing in the championship A flight, Phillips beat out championship flight winner and Dalton State College golf coach Ben Ricketts, who shot a 140. Chase Jones also had a 140, but settled for the runner-up position in the championship flight. Senior championship flight winner Neil Spitalni also shot a 140.

Despite shooting par, Phillips wasn’t happy with his first round.

“I played well, but I just didn’t finish,” he said. “I was 4-under with four to play and managed to play my way back to even. I didn’t take advantage of it on Saturday and I was determined not to let that happen on Sunday.”

Matt Robertson and Will Morrow each shot 141 to finish tied for third in the championship flight. Behind Phillips in championship A were David Watts, Matt Hadden and Shonn Weldon, who each shot 142.

In championship B, Hunter Vest won the tiebreaker with P.J. Shields after both shot a 141. Tyler Mitchell was third at 146. Greg Brock shot a 147 to win championship C, followed by Brad Beck and Terry Mitchell at 149. Ethan Hayes’ 147 was the best score in championship D, followed by Hal Lamb at 150 and Clay Stephenson with a 151. In championship E, Zac Coquerille’s 155 beat out Brad Cline and Joel Hughes at 156. Chris Baker won championship F with a 156, while John Blevins (160) was second and Heath Caylor (168) third.

Spitalni won the senior championship by six strokes over Lanny Bailey and Larry Clark after carding his 140, and Johnny Smith’s 149 won the senior A. Bruce Jennings (150) was second and Melvin Nichelson (155) finished third.

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