Adam Mitchell, a rising senior at the University of Georgia, is no stranger to the pressures of playing in major amateur tournaments, after all, he did win the Bubba Conlee Junior Tournament in 2004 as a 17-year-old, but when he gave away a seven-stroke lead to the University of Alabama-Birmingham's Zach Sucher at the Porter Cup Invitational no one could fault him for having a fitful night's sleep.
His father Jim, a onetime Bulldog pitcher, was thinking the same thing, and hopped a flight from the family home in Chattanooga to Niagara Falls to help his son right the ship.
Whether it was his father on the bag, the fact that the final day had only 18 holes scheduled or just Mitchell's toughness, he was able to storm back in the final round with a 1-under-69 to take a three-stroke victory at 270.
Sucher finished second at 7-under 273.
“This is huge,” Mitchell told the Buffalo News after the tourney. “It’s a great tournament. It has great history. It’s the 50th anniversary, so that’s cool. A lot of my friends were here playing. It was just fun, a fun tournament and a fun week.”
“After the 73, I thought maybe I could give him a boost of energy,” Jim told the Niagara Gazette. “In terms of support, I'm sure it helped. But I didn’t say much. He did this.
“To be here is an honor. To watch my son win this ... it leaves me speechless.
Mitchell started the tourney by firing a scorching 62 in the first round at the Niagara Falls Country Club, and followed that up with a 66 to open up a seven-stroke lead halfway through the tourney. But after heavy rains on Thursday postponed play, forcing golfers to play 36 holes on Friday, he faded on the second 18, posting a 1-over 73 and allowing Sucher to close the gap by firing a 6-under 66.
"We've always had good luck with UGA players," said Porter Cup tournament director Steve Denn, who dubbed Mitchell a 'cool cat' after his comeback. "Brian Harman won in 2007 (and set the tournament record at 20-under) and Adam became the fifth Bulldog to win the event."
He followed that up with what may be an even more impressive feat, a semifinal appearance at the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst, where he fell to Drew Kittleson.
Mitchell has had his share of solid finishes last summer as well, with top-10 finishes in the Northeast Amateur and Jones Cup Invitational, as well as being one of three Americans to make match play at the British Amateur. In 2006 he tied for 6th at the Dogwood Invitational.
As a junior golfer he found similar success, setting the tournament record (13-under-197) and course record (10-under 70 )in his victorious showing at the 2004 Bubba Conlee National as well as taking a runner-up finish at the 2004 Southern Junior and third at the 2003 Tennessee Junior Amateur. He can boast of an undefeated high school match-play record (16-0-2) and a state championship title as a sophomore.