Knox regains Amateur title
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@cherokeetribune.com
July 18, 2012 12:54 AM | 1480 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lee Knox needed every last stroke of his five-shot third-round lead to hold David Noll Jr. at bay Sunday, winning the Georgia Amateur by a single stroke at Settindown Creek.
<Br>Tribune photo by Todd Hull
Lee Knox needed every last stroke of his five-shot third-round lead to hold David Noll Jr. at bay Sunday, winning the Georgia Amateur by a single stroke at Settindown Creek.
Tribune photo by Todd Hull
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ROSWELL — Lee Knox held a five-stroke lead over David Noll Jr. entering Sunday’s final round of the Georgia Amateur Championship, and the 2010 champion needed every bit of that advantage by the time the tournament ended.

Knox shot a 1-over 73 on Sunday and finished at 6-under 282, holding off a furious charge from Noll, the defending champion, to win by a single stroke at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek course.

Noll began the day tied for fourth at 2 under, but he fired a second-straight 69 to close the gap and conclude the event as the runner-up at 283. Three others — David Yowell (70), Michael Garretson (72) and Matt Russell (74) — tied for third at 285.

Woodstock’s Mark Strickland had the best finish among local players, his final-round 75 tying for 13th at 293. The top-15 standing automatically qualified Strickland for next year’s Georgia Amateur, which will be held at his home course — Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw.

“(Sunday) was a little bit disappointing,” Strickland said, “but I hit it good all week. I just didn’t make the putts I should have that would have kept me in the hunt all week.

“I hit the ball great. In fact, I hit the ball the best I have all year. So, it’s something good to take away for my next tournament.”

Knowing that the Georgia Amateur was going to be held at Pinetree next season, Strickland acknowledged that he was nervous Sunday. He entered his final round tied for 11th with five others.

“I just wanted the free pass with a top-15 finish,” he said. “I’ve been exempt every year since 2003, so I didn’t want to have to go through qualifying.”

BridgeMill Athletic Club member Billy Mitchell just missed out on the top 15 after a 76 left him tied for 18th at 294. It was the second straight day Mitchell carded 4-over round after posting 70 and 72 in his first two rounds.

“I played horrible on the front nine and OK on the back nine,” Mitchell said. “I shot 40 on the front nine going out again, and you just can’t do that. To go the last 36 holes and shoot a combined 81 on the front nine, you just can’t compete when you’re doing that.”

Mitchell did manage to salvage his round with a near eagle on the par-4 18th. He hit his approach shot at the flag stick, and the ball rolled past the pin to within a foot of the hole, where he then settled for birdie.

“It’s weird,” he said. “I birdied my finishing hole every day of this tournament, so all I know how to do is to just grind it out and not give up. You try to finish well and take something from this week to the next tournament and try to build on it and get better. It doesn’t do anybody any good to just tank it. You have to keep grinding.”

Canton’s Justin Johnson shot 72 and finished tied for 21st at 295. Rising Georgia College and State University sophomore David Sullivan, a former Etowah standout, tied for 67th at 311 after shooting a 79 on Sunday.
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