SAVANNAH, Ga. — Cameron Hooper of Atlanta connected on a 30-foot birdie putt on the 54th hole to avoid a playoff with local Danny Nelson and win the 32nd annual Georgia Mid-Amateur Championship at 5-under-par 208 at The Savannah Golf Club. Nelson, the Savannah Golf Club champion, was playing one group ahead of Hooper and also birdied No. 18 to move into a tie for the lead before Hooper’s heroics on his final hole.
Two-time past champion Jeff Knox of Augusta finished third at 1-under 212. Another Savannah Golf Club member, Jack Hall of Sea Island, placed fourth at even-par 213. Travis Steed of Macon and past champion Greg Kennedy of Duluth tied for fifth at 214. Seven players tied for seventh at 5-over 218, including Zane Goldthorp of Tucker, Hal Hayes of Savannah, Chris Waters of Atlanta, Bobby Brent III of Columbus, first-round leader Fred Rescigno Jr. of Suwanee, past champion Doug Hanzel of Savannah and two-time and defending champion David Noll, Jr. of Dalton, who was the second-round leader.
Going into the final round, Hooper sat in second place, trailing Noll by two strokes. He pulled to within one with birdies on holes 5 and 6, then took over the lead when Noll ran into trouble with a bogey on No. 7 and a double-bogey on 8. Hooper made the turn with the lead at 3-under for the Championship, and quickly moved to 6-under with a birdie on No. 10 and an eagle on the 527-yard 12th. Nelson, who began the day four strokes back of Noll, stayed in the picture with four birdies on his back nine (12, 14, 15 and 18), finishing the day with a score of 67, and 4-under 209 for the Championship.
After encountering some trouble on the back (bogey at 13, double-bogey at 15), Cooper arrived to the 18th tee tied with Nelson, and considered going for the green on the 329-yard final hole. His caddy, wife Abby, urged him to lay up instead and use his 6-iron. He found the middle of the fairway, but then hit his second shot past the hole by 30 feet. But the fast-moving putt found the hole and secured the victory.
Hooper, at age 25, was in his first year of eligibility for this Championship. Originally from Jacksonville, Fla., he is a recently reinstated amateur who played his collegiate golf at Coastal Carolina University.
Entries were open to male amateur golfers who are GSGA members, Georgia residents and age 25 or older as of the first day of the Championship. The starting field was 144 players and was cut to the low 70 and ties after 36 holes. The cutline fell at 14-over 156 with 74 players advancing.
The full leader board and individual scorecards are available at the following link: http://www.ghintpp.com/gsga/TPPOnlineScoring/Default.aspx?ID=321
Top 10 Overall
Place Name Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Total To Par
1 Cameron Hooper, Atlanta 68 72 68 208 -5
2 Danny Nelson, Savannah 73 69 67 209 -4
3 Jeff Knox, Augusta 72 69 71 212 -1
4 Jack Hall, Sea Island 72 72 69 213 Even
T5 Greg Kennedy, Duluth 72 70 72 214 1
T5 Travis Steed, Macon 76 68 70 214 1