Woodstock's Strickland among Georgia Amateur hopefuls
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@cherokeetribune.com
July 11, 2013 12:47 AM | 1272 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Forced to settle for a tie in 13th last year at Settindown Creek, Woodstock’s Mark Strickland is expecting a better finish in this year’s Georgia Amateur Championship. He’ll be playing the tournament on the course he’s called home for many years, Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw.
<BR>Staff file photo by Todd Hull
Forced to settle for a tie in 13th last year at Settindown Creek, Woodstock’s Mark Strickland is expecting a better finish in this year’s Georgia Amateur Championship. He’ll be playing the tournament on the course he’s called home for many years, Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw.
Staff file photo by Todd Hull
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Pinetree Country Club will play host to the Georgia Amateur Championship for the first time since 2003 when golfers tee off at the Kennesaw course today.

The four-round stroke-play event will feature a 144-man field vying for one of the Georgia State Golf Association’s biggest prizes. The field will be cut to the low 70 and ties after 36 holes.

Pinetree will play to a par-71, 7,108-yard layout.

There have been 66 different champions in 91 Georgia Amateurs, and just two recent winners — defending champion Lee Knox of Augusta and Dalton’s David Noll Jr. — are in this year’s field.

Knox, who also won in 2010, shot 282 to capture the title last year at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek course along the Cherokee-Fulton county line in Roswell. Noll is a two-time champion (2003, 2011) and three-time runner-up.

Other previous runners-up competing include Augusta’s Chase Parker and Jeff Knox, Atlanta’s Robert Sheats and Woodstock’s Mark Strickland.

Strickland, a 2007 runner-up at Settindown Creek, should be particularly comfortable at Pinetree as a longtime member of the course.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for three years,” said Strickland, in the field after finishing in the top 15 of last year’s tournament at Settindown Creek. “It’s my home course, so I’m pretty confident that I’ll finish well. Me and the staff at Pinetree are really excited about it. The course is in great shape, and I think my knowledge of it can only help me.”

If there’s one person who could be even more familiar with Pinetree than Strickland, it would be the designer behind the course’s 2007 renovation.

Bill Bergin, a past Georgia Amateur champion, will be competing this weekend. He won the 1981 tournament in Dalton, and has a lifetime exemption to play the Georgia Amateur as a previous champion from 2000 and before.

The Kennesaw State golf program also calls Pinetree home, which could also bode well for the five Owls in the field — Austin Vick, Jimmy Beck, Jonathan Klotz, Kelby Burton and Sam Curtis.

Kennesaw State hosted a tournament of its own at Pinetree in October, finishing first of 12 teams. Beck shot 7 under over three rounds, with Pinetree playing to 72.

“David (Noll) and Lee (Knox) are great golfers, and the five KSU kids playing practice at Pinetree, so they know the course, too, which could be an advantage for them as well,” Strickland said. “They’re all good competitors. I’m hoping I can be there at the end come Sunday.”

Canton’s Justin Johnson and Woodstock’s Ron King will also be competing. Johnson was among the top 10 on the GSGA’s Player of the Year points list, while King made it through a June qualifier at Pinetree.

Pinetree will be hosting its fourth Georgia Amateur in all, also serving as the home course in 1976 and 1985.

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