ATLANTA – David Noll Jr., of Dalton fired a final-round, 4-under-par 66, holding off a late charge from Billy Mitchell of Roswell to win the 90th annual Georgia Amateur Championship by a score of 6-under 274 at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta. It was the second Georgia Amateur title for Noll (2003). Mitchell was one of two players to card a tournament-low 65 in the final round; finishing four strokes back at 278.
Current Georgia Tech golfer Anders Albertson of Woodstock, who trailed Noll by one stroke going into the final round, shot a 1-over 71 to finish third at even-par 280. Franco Castro of Alpharetta placed fourth at 283. Another Georgia Tech golfer, Seth Reeves of Duluth, tied with Ridge Purcell of LaGrange for fifth place with 284. Reeves carded 67 in the final round to move up into that position.
Second-round leader Bill Jones III of Albany and Cameron Simmons of Acworth tied for seventh at 285. Four players tied for ninth at 286, including defending champion Lee Knox of Augusta, Kris Mikkelsen of Atlanta, Mark Strickland of Woodstock and Doug Hanzel of Savannah.
Noll owned a one-shot lead over Albertson going into the final 18 and began the day steady with five straight pars. Albertson tied him briefly with a birdie on No. 1, but it didn’t last as he posted bogey on the 188-yard second. Noll still owned a one-shot lead at No. 6, and made a 25-foot uphill putt for birdie while Albertson three-putted from about eight feet to expand the lead to three shots. Albertson then went on to double-bogey No. 7. Both players bogeyed No. 8 (Noll missing a one-footer), which he described as “the best thing that happened to me today.”
“Both players (Albertson and Lee Knox) had just had bogeys or double bogey, and I had been steady-eddy. I was standing in the fairway thinking, ‘Well, here we go.’ I was almost thinking about my acceptance speech. So as embarrassing as it was, it really helped bring me back down to reality. In hindsight, it helped me out because it helped me refocus a little bit.”
But meanwhile, Mitchell, the reigning Georgia Public Links Champion, was making a charge. Playing two groups ahead of the final pairing, Mitchell posted two birdies on the front nine (holes 3 and 9) to turn at 2-under and move into second place, three shots back of Noll.
On the back nine, Mitchell posted a birdie on 12, and then had three in a row on holes 14, 15 and 16. He cut Noll’s lead to one shot, but Noll was starting a birdie barrage of his own, gaining ground on 13, 15 and 16. On 16, he hit his approach from the rough to within seven feet, a shot which he described as his turning point of the day.
“That ball could have run 40 yards off the green,” Noll said. “(From where it landed), that ball was inches from bogey, definitely par at best. Making that (birdie) putt at that particular moment was crucial.”
That birdie moved him to 5-under for the Championship. After a par on 17, Mitchell couldn’t keep the pace on 18, posting his only bogey of the day but finishing with a tournament-best round of 65. Cherokee club champion Dan Whigham Jr. matched him with a 65 of his own to move up to 16th place.
So Noll owned a three-shot lead on 18, but finished the Championship with an exclamation point, sinking a breaking 15-footer for birdie while he said he had tears in his eyes.
“You have to have good fortune come your way in a golf tournament, and I just feel very, very fortunate,” he said.
Noll captured the 2003 Georgia Amateur at Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw and, with this win, has finished sixth place or better in the Georgia Amateur in each of the last seven years, including two runner-up finishes (2005, 2009). Noll has won GSGA Men’s Player of the Year honors six times since 2003, including the last four years (2007-10).
Noll becomes the 15th golfer in the 90-year history of the Georgia Amateur Championship to win at least two titles. Allen Doyle owns the record with six, followed by Arnold Blum (five), Jim Gabrielsen and Danny Yates (three each). Others with two titles include Watts Gunn, Eugene Cook, Charles Yates, Billy McWilliams, Frank Mulherin Jr., Jack Key Jr., William Goodloe, Tommy Aaron, Carter Mize and Russell Henley.
The Georgia Amateur Championship brings together 144 of the state’s best male amateur golfers for the prestigious state title first won by Bobby Jones in 1916.
The Championship format is 72 holes of stroke play over four days. After 36 holes, the field was cut to the low 70 players and ties and anyone within 10 strokes of the leader. The cutline fell at 10-over 150 with 73 players advancing.