August 2, 2013

Georgia Open: Low spot a high honor for Mitchell

From Staff Reports
sports@daltoncitizen.com

— Chatsworth’s Tyler Mitchell wasn’t happy with the first half of his final round at the Tilted Kilt Georgia Open, but he was happy with his final standing.

Being the low amateur in a competitive field will have that effect on a golfer.

Mitchell closed the four-day, 72-hole tournament on The Legends course at Chateau Elan in Braselton with a 7-over-par 79 on Thursday. That put him at 6-over 294 for the event and tied with Savannah’s Mark Silvers for 14th place.

But everyone in front of him — including Dalton’s Matt Hughes, the top local finisher in seventh place — had pro status. The next closest amateur was Eatonton’s John Hopper, who was a stroke back and in a five-way tie for 16th place.

“It is definitely an accomplishment,” said Mitchell, 22, who is a senior at Dalton State College. “I’m a little disappointed with how I played the first half of the last round, but it’s a great accomplishment to be with that type of field, with those caliber players and actually contend and be on the leaderboard with the last groups. It was pretty special.”

Mitchell’s best 18 holes at the tournament netted a 69 in the third round. He had five bogeys and a double bogey on the front nine Thursday, but he rallied with a birdie on the ninth hole and had another on No. 14.

“The first half of today, I just missed a lot of greens and failed to get up and down for par,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t make the same key putts I had been making the past three days.”

Those putts earlier in the tournament were able to “keep momentum going,” said Mitchell, who anticipates competing with Dalton State’s golf team as it begins competition this school year. He is still awaiting word on his eligibility from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Mitchell said.

Regardless of where his golf game takes him next, the 2008 Murray County High School graduate knows his finish at the Georgia Open will be a plus.

“It gave me a big boost of confidence,” he said.

Hughes’ top-10 finish came after he held outright or shared the lead in the first two rounds before carding a 75 in the third round and a 73 Thursday to finish at 2-under 286, nine strokes off winner Jonathan Fricke of Covington. Hughes, a former Dalton High School and University of Alabama golfer, shared the second-round lead with Fricke.

Brent Witcher and Jordan Mitchell, both of Atlanta, tied Warner Robins’ Chris Wolfe for second place at 4 under. Duluth’s Eddie Lee and Decatur’s Kyle Scott finished at 2 under and tied for fifth.

Dalton’s David Noll Jr., finished at 13 over and tied for 38th in the 60-player field. Tunnel Hill’s Justin Jolly finished tied for 48th at 16 over.