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Southern Amateur Exemption Extended

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (March 13, 2007)-- The Southern Golf Association and the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard jointly announced today that the arrangement whereby the winner of the SGA’s Southern Amateur Championship is invited to play in the Palmer-hosted PGA Tour event has been extended for the fourth consecutive year.

Champion of the 101st Southern Amateur, to be played July 18-21 at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, will be invited to play at Bay Hill Club in the Arnold Palmer Invitational next spring.

“It’s always nice to have an amateur in our field,” said Palmer. “In this case, it’s particularly appropriate because of Bay Hill’s close association with the Southern Amateur, which is one of the game’s oldest and most prestigious tournaments.”

Kyle Stanley, winner of the 100th Southern Am last July at the Country Club of Birmingham, is competing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week. Though only a freshman, Stanley, from Gig Harbor, WA, is playing as the number one player on the nationally-ranked Clemson University golf team. He has played in two junior tournaments at Bay Hill in recent years, finishing well below par both times.

The previous two Southern Am champs, Aussie Michael Sim and Wake Forest's Webb Simpson, who was the topped the 2006 amateurgolf.com rankings, competed against the Tour pros at Bay Hill, both narrowly missing the 36-hole cut by one and two strokes, respectively. Sim has earned his 2007 PGA Tour card, but is currently out with a stress fracture to his lower back, while Simpson, a Demon Deacons senior, is again one of the country’s top-ranked amateurs.

“The SGA continues to be honored and appreciative of the invitation Mr. Palmer extends to our champion,” said current SGA President Kevin Butler of West Palm Beach, FL. “More importantly, this pays tribute to the stature of amateur golf and the significant role it plays in competitive golf.”

The Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational joins the Verizon Heritage Classic and the Western Open as PGA Tour events which provide exemptions to winners of major amateur tournaments in their area. In the case of the Verizon Amateur, an exemption goes to the winner of the prestigious Players Amateur played at Belfair Country Club in South Carolina. The Western Open provides an exemption to the winner of the Western Amateur, one of amateur golf's top prizes; both events are administered by the Western Golf Association. --Story courtesy SGA

ABOUT THE Southern Amateur

The Southern Amateur, which dates back to 1902, is one of two competitions held by the Southern Golf Association. (The other is the Southern Junior.) Its champions roster is like a who’s who’s of competitive golf. (And the same could be said of the standing of its host clubs.) Leading this group is Robert T. (Bobby) Jones, Jr., who was the Southern Amateur Champion in 1917, 1920, and 1922. Others who have won or finished in a challenging position and gone on to national and/or international prominence include Tommy Barnes, Dale Morey, Don January, Gay Brewer, Doug Sanders, Billy Joe Patton, Lew Oehmig, Hubert Green, Downing Gray, Marvin (Vinny) Giles, Lanny Wadkins, Steve Melnyk, Tom Kite, John Mahaffey, Ben Crenshaw, Gary Koch, Bill Rogers, Gil Morgan, Danny Edwards, Andy Bean, Vance Haefner, Jerry Pate, Chip Beck, David Edwards, Jay Sigel, Bob Tway, Mark Brooks, Gene Sauers, Davis Love, Justin Leonard and more recently PGA Tour standouts Webb Simpson and Kyle Stanley, who won twice each between 2005 and 2008 in alternate years.

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