POINT CLEAR, Ala. (June 8, 2014) -- Will Cannon is the State Amateur champion after a closing round of 73 saw him home by one over Ryan Benton, who closed with a 75.
Cannon was two back in the 98th State Amateur at Lakewood Golf Club's Dogwood Course with four holes to play, but prevailed as Benton bogeyed three of the last four holes and Cannon parred in.
Cannon, a former Hoover High School golfer and UAB golf team sophomore Cannon, shot 68-70-69-73--280, eight-under-par. Dothan's Benton, who is a redshirt sophomore on the golf team at Auburn, had rounds of 72-68-66-75--281, seven-under-par.
Former University of Alabama golfer and Birmingham resident Clint Provost shot 69-72-70-72--283 to finish tied third with Pinson resident and University of Cincinnati golfer John-Michael O'Toole, who shot 71-70-71-71.
"This is a huge honor," Cannon said. "It's a one of the very best tournaments I play in and was at a great venue. I'm proud to have done it, to have won this championship, and I could not have done so without the help of my Dad (John Cannon, who caddied all four rounds for his son), my swing coach, Eric Eshleman, and my UAB golf coach, Alan Murray."
He admitted he did a poor job of focusing on his own game and of one shot at a time, which had been his mantra the first three days.
"I did a bad job regards that focus for the first 13 or 14 holes. Then I told myself to forget where I was, what was going on and just try to play golf. I knew we (Benton and Cannon) were close, but I wanted to focus better on what I was doing and managed that on the closing holes."
That he did as he parred all four and it proved to be good enough.
Benton led by one starting the day and he never gave up his lead until the final hole. He and Cannon were tied after 11 holes, but then Benton got his nose in front again and led two after 13 and 14 holes.
"Obviously I'm disappointed. I'm a competitor and I always want to win, but I'll still take way more out of this as positive than negative. I don't like losing, but I didn't have my best stuff, which, combined with tough pins and a tricky wind, left me just short.
"For the most part I hit the ball well, but didn't quite have it coming in."
Tied with Cannon playing the last hole, his second shot leaked right and fell just into a greenside bunker, leaving a very awkward stance. From there he had 20 feet left for par, which just rolled by, and Cannon successfully two-putted from 40 feet to secure the win.
View results for Alabama State Amateur Golf Championship