July 14, 2013

‘Difficult’ day, but Noll hangs on to lead entering final round

From Staff Reports

— After the first three rounds of the Georgia Amateur Championship at Pinetree Country Club, not a single golfer is under par for the week.

That’s how difficult the course conditions were during Saturday’s third round.

Not only did the golfers cite the greens’ speeds, but many pins were placed near the slopes, making it a challenge to keep the ball underneath the hole and avoid downhill puts. Other holes were placed at the edge of the greens, and the rough was longer than usual, making it difficult to play balls away from the fairway.

“When you hit it close to hole and come away with par more than a handful of times, it’s frustrating,” said LaGrange’s Ridge Purcell, who shot 2-under 69 on Saturday to move into second place. “The way to overcome that is to be level-headed and look at things in different perspective. Par is never a bad score. You have to look at it that way.”

Dalton’s David Noll Jr. maintained the lead he’s held throughout the tournament, but saw it shrink to one stroke after a 76 put him at 1-over. He shot 67-71 in the previous two rounds.

“It was difficult,” Noll said. “The wind was tricky and the green speeds were a lot slower. I don’t know if it was the humidity in the air or what. I played pretty good, but I just got into a rut with my putter for four or five holes and it went into a spiral. I was able to bring it back on the last couple of holes.”

Noll struggled on the front nine, shooting bogey or worse on five straight holes, including a double bogey on the par-4 No. 3. But he managed to preserve his lead with consecutive birdies on Nos. 8 and 9.

Noll is a two-time winner of the Georgia Amateur, winning his first title in the event’s last visit to Pinetree in 2003, and then again in 2011 in Atlanta.

If he can finish off another title today, he would join five others who have won the Georgia Amateur at least three times. Heading into the final round of a tournament with a lead is a position he has been in before.

“I just have to  play some good golf,” Noll said. “I have really played well all three days, and I really haven’t putted my best.”

Chatsworth’s David Watts, who was tied with Kennesaw State’s Kelby Burton for second going into Saturday’s round, dropped to seventh after a 77. Burton dropped to 13th after a 78.

Purcell is tied for second with Travis Williamson, an Armstrong Atlantic golfer who shot 72 for the second straight day.