ALPHARETTA, Ga (October 5-8, 2006) -– With the match all square after nine holes, Woodstock’s Mark Strickland made a late charge to defeat Tony Caporale of Atlanta, 4 and 2, at the 85th annual Atlanta Amateur Match Play Championship, which was held at White Columns Country Club. Strickland closed the match by sinking a seven-foot birdie putt, his fifth of the day, on the 16th hole.
“I really changed my way of thinking coming into this match,” said Strickland. “I came out this morning thinking that I need to play a four-under par round today. From there, if my opponent beats me, then I just have to take my hat off to them and say that they deserved it.”
Caporale, who recently spent time on the Developmental Players Tour before returning to a full-time amateur player, jumped out to the early lead on the first hole , when he hit his approach to fifteen feet and sank the ensuing birdie putt. Strickland answered on the par-3 number two, however, when Caporale took a three-putt and a bogey. Caporale posted bogey on the next two holes and could only watch as Strickland jumped out to a 2 up lead.
Bouncing back though, Caporale proceeded to sink birdie putts of ten, twelve, and eight feet on the next three holes and swung the match back in his favor. After exchanging pars on the eighth hole, Strickland posted his second birdie of the day on the 591-yard ninth hole and squared the match going to the inward nine.
Strickland picked up right where he left off and took a 1 up advantage with a birdie at ten. The players each posted pars at eleven and then each landed their tee shots short and right of the green at hole-12. Strickland’s bogey at 12 was, however, good enough to win the hole. Strickland also capitalized at 13 when Caporale failed to get up and down for par. After another birdie at 14, Strickland found himself dormie with four holes left to play.
Both players landed their approach shots short of the 14th and Strickland’s ball rolled back into the hazard. Strickland chose to play his ball from the hazard, but before Strickland struck his ball he touched a loose impediment with his club. According to rule 13-4, if this happens, the result in match play is loss of hole. Strickland did not let this event effect his demeanor though and drained a six-foot birdie putt on hole 16 to close out the match and defeat Caporale.
“I knew that a win here would get me GSGA Men’s Co-Player of the Year,” Strickland explained. “It feels really great to have accomplished that goal and am proud to be able to put my name on this trophy with all the other great names.”
Strickland’s road to the final included a 5 and 4 victory over two-time past champion Jack Hall of Savannah in the quarterfinals followed by a win in 22 holes against defending champion David Noll Jr. of Dalton in the semifinals.
This is the second statewide amateur title for Strickland this year. He birdied the final hole of the competition to capture the Georgia Mid-Amateur Championship this past May. The former Wake Forest golfer also finished tied for eleventh at this year’s Georgia Amateur Championship. This was the first time that Caporale has competed in an event sanctioned by the Georgia State Golf Association, who is now exempt into the 2007 Georgia Amateur and Mid-Amateur.
The Atlanta Amateur Match Play Championship was open to male amateur golfers who are Georgia residents and members of a GSGA Member Club. Notable former champions include Charlie Yates (1931), Tommy Barnes (1936), Dan Yates (1942), Gene Dahlbender (1946-47, 1957-59, 1962), Bobby Jones’ son, Robert T. Jones, III, (1948), Charles Harrison (1952-54, 1961, 1965, 1967-1969, 1973, 1977), Larry Mize (1979) and Danny Yates (1981-82).
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