Spratlin – Chicopee, page 12
Shoots 16-under in Chicopee Woods event
By Mike Blum
The first three years Chicopee Woods hosted the Georgia PGA Players Championship, the event either went to a playoff or was decided by the slim margin of one stroke.
That was not the case when the event was played for the fourth time last month.
Clark Spratlin put together two days and 54 holes of exceptional golf, setting a tournament record with a score of 16-under 200. That produced a six-stroke margin of victory which was reduced by two when Spratlin bogeyed his final two holes the second day.
Spratlin, an instructor at Georgia Golf Center, took control of the tournament when he shot 10-under 98 the first day, with tournament competitors playing 27 holes each day over Chicopee Woods’ three nines. Spratlin’s first day performance was highlighted by a 63 on the Mill and School nines, with Spratlin beginning and ending his round on the Village nine due to the shotgun start used because of a pro-am format.
Thanks to his 10-under score, Spratlin took a three-stroke lead over Kinderlou Forest Director of Instruction Chris Dixon to the final round, with Towne Lake Hills assistant Bill Murchison four off the lead at 102.
Dixon and Murchison both closed to within two of Spratlin’s lead early on the opening nine the second day. But Spratlin notched three birdies for a 33 on the Village nine to lead Dixon by four and Murchison and Michael Parrott by five after 36 holes. Spratlin expanded his lead to five over Parrott after shooting 2-under on the Village nine, and ended the little remaining suspense when he went 4-under on a 4-hole stretch early on the his final nine, highlighted by an eagle on the short par-4 fourth hole on the Village.
Spratlin led by as many as nine strokes midway through the final nine, but fell back on the final few holes with a chance to achieve some rare statistical milestones.
After holing a lengthy birdie putt on the fifth hole on the Village nine, Spratlin was 18-under for the tournament. He said he began thinking of getting to 20-under, but “ran out of gas” on the final few holes.
“I was thinking about breaking 100 both days. That would have been kind of cool.”
After a bogey at the par-3 eighth on the Village nine ended those hopes Spratlin still had the chance to break 200 for the tournament, but an errant drive at the par-5 18th resulted in another bogey, leaving Spratlin with a nice, round 200 total for the tournament.
“This was a long time coming,” said Spratlin, whose last win in a Georgia PGA event came in the Section Championship in 2008, the biggest of his seven titles in the Section over the past decade,
“I figured something out with the putter working with my juniors,” Spratlin said, at least temporarily solving the problem that has kept him from winning more than he has.
Spratlin landed at Georgia Golf Center last year after spending about five years at Blue Ridge and Golf Club, which finally abandoned attempts to get the facility open and ready for play.
Going that long without a home course or a practice facility was not an asset to Spratlin’s game. He won just once during that span after five victories between 2001 and ’04, all of them coming in either the Match Play Championship or Griffin Classic when Spratlin was the head professional at Atlanta National.
“I just wanted to win again,” said Spratlin, who is also looking ahead to being part of a Georgia PGA team in the biennial Billy Peters Challenge Cup that will play a team from the GSGA later this year.
“I would hate not to be on that team,” says Spratlin, with the Georgia PGA looking to end a four-match losing stretch, including a few lopsided final scores.
Spratlin began the 2011 Georgia PGA season knowing he would not be competing in the PGA PNC, the national club professional championship, for the first time in eight years, denying him of any hope of qualifying for this year’s PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.
“That was my biggest motivation,” says Spratlin, who came close on several occasions to finishing high enough in the PNC to qualify for the PGA Championship later that year. Spratlin can now focus on the Atlanta Open, which will be played this month just before the PNC, and is one of the two major Georgia PGA titles he has yet to capture.
Spratlin says he got off to “a boring start” in his opening round, making a bogey on his first hole and going to the Mill nine even par after five holes on the Village. He took advantage of the shorter and more inviting Mill nine, scoring birdies on five of the first seven holes, then rattled off four more birdies on the School nine. He added one more birdie on the Village nine to get to 10-under for the day, and carried over his outstanding play to the next day, shooting 8-under for 23 holes before the two late bogeys.
Defending tournament champion Tim Weinhart won the battle for second place, shooting 66 over his final 18 holes to finish at 10-under 206. Weinhart birdied five of the first seven holes on the Mill nine to move into contention for second place, and nailed down the runner-up spot when he hit his second shot on the par-4 seventh hole on the School nine to within a few feet for a birdie to get to 10-under.
Tying for third at 9-under 207 were Parrott and Gary Cressend, Director of Instruction at Augusta CC.
Parrott got as close to Spratlin’s lead as three strokes midway through the final round with four birdies on the Mill nine. The last one came at the 7th hole just before Spratlin scored his eagle by driving within 15 feet of the pin. Parrott recovered from a bogey and double bogey on the first three holes of his final nine with birdies on the next two holes, but another bogey cost him a chance to tie Weinhart for second.
The highlight of Parrott’s first day was a 30 on the Mill nine, which included five straight birdies. Cressend shot 66 for his final 18, playing the six par 5s in 6-under over the 27 holes.
Murchison and Dixon tied for fifth at 208, with both within three of Spratlin’s lead at one point early on the second nine the final day. Murchison, who shot 29 on the vulnerable Mill nine the first day, was 3-under after four holes on it the next day, but suffered a double bogey on the par-3 fifth after missing the green and failing to get his chip to the putting surface.
Country Club of the South Director of Instruction Shawn Koch was 7th at 209, with River Pointe instructor Sonny Skinner 8th at 210. Instructors Craig Stevens (Steel Canyon) and David Potts (CC of the South) tied for 9th at 209 along Chicopee Woods professional Greg Lee, who shot the low score the second day.
Lee struggled to a 3-over total the first day, but shot 64 on his first 18 the final round after playing his first 13 holes in 9-under with a pair of eagles. But Lee managed only one birdie over his next 14 holes, playing them in 1-over to shoot 8-under 100 for the day.