July 15, 2013

Golf: Watts shares third; Noll manages top-six finish again

Dalton’s David Noll Jr. held a one-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s final round at the Georgia Amateur Championship, but a difficult back nine took what would have been his third title away from him.

Noll, the 2003 and 2011 champion of the Georgia State Golf Association tournament, had five bogeys and one birdie on the back nine and finished with a second straight round of 5-over-par 76 on the Pinetree Country Club course in Kennesaw. Noll’s slow fade on the inward nine gave Kennesaw State University and Columbus native Jimmy Beck an opportunity, and he capitalized.

Beck finished the tournament at 1-under-par 285 for the 54-hole tournament and won by two strokes over Brunswick’s Travis Williamson. Three golfers — including Chats-worth’s David Watts — finished tied for third, four strokes behind Beck.

Watts, a former Murray County High School standout, was in the final pairing with Noll on Sunday, but he finished the third round with a 6-over 77 to move to 5-over for the tournament. He played steadily on Sunday with four birdies and four bogeys to hold his place in the field. He began and closed his round with birdies.

Noll finished the tournament among a group of golfers tied for sixth at 290. Despite not bringing home the trophy, Noll continues an impressive run in the state’s top amateur event. This marked his ninth straight year of finishing sixth or better in the tournament, including three runner-up finishes.

Noll opened with a 4-under-par 67 in the first round and shot par in the second round, but he led after each of the first three rounds despite his 76 on Saturday, when just two players shot under par.

Beck’s 72-hole score of 285 included 13 birdies, 46 pars, 12 bogeys and one double-bogey over the four-day event. He finished 4 over on the par-3 holes, par on the par-4 holes and 3 under on the par-5 holes. His 1-over total was the highest winning score at the tournament in 20 years.

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