SAVANNAH, GA. (July 10, 2005) -- Brian Harman of Savannah birdied three of his last eight holes and carded a final-round, three-under 68 to secure the 84th Annual Georgia Amateur Championship at The Savannah Golf Club. Harman, at eight-under 276, finished two strokes ahead of 2003 Amateur Champion David Noll of Dalton, while his final-round playing partners, Jay Moseley of Bainbridge and Doug Hanzel of Savannah, finished three and four strokes back.
Brent Witcher of Duluth placed fifth at two-under 282 after a final-round 73. Savannah Golf Club member Danny Nelson and 2004 Georgia Amateur Champion David Denham of Tifton tied for sixth at even-par 284. Five golfers - Chris Hall of Marietta, Jack Hall and Mark Silvers of Savannah, Chris Kirk of Woodstock and Atlanta's West Streib - tied for eighth at 285.
Rounding out the top 15 and earning exemptions into next year's championship (if eligible) were Chase MacFarland of Savannah (286), Johnathan Shaw of Cartersville (287) and Jon David Kennedy of Hawkinsville (287).
"I just wanted to play aggressively today," said Harman, who shot 71 in the third round, and saw his tie for the lead disappear when Moseley sunk a 30-foot birdie putt to take a one-shot lead going into the final round. "I can't believe how well I played today; I just can't describe it. This summer I haven't played well in third rounds, and even though I've done well in the final round I've usually been too far behind at that point. Today they gave me an opening, and it worked out."
Harman and Hanzel, who began the final round tied at five-under 208, remained neck-and-neck through their first nine holes. Hanzel dropped a stroke on No. 2, but quickly made it up with a birdie on the third. Harman then went up a stroke when he stuck his tee shot to within 12 feet on the par-3 No. 5, but evened the score again one hole later with a bogey on the sixth. Hanzel briefly took the lead when he birdied the eighth hole, but Harman responded with an unexpected birdie on No. 9 to square it up at the turn at six under par. Harman's tee shot on the ninth found the cart path and bounced into the bunker of an adjacent hole. He then pitched over another bunker and greenside mound to within six feet for birdie putt.
Meanwhile, Moseley, the 54-hole leader, got off to a rough start with a double bogey on his first hole, which included a one-stroke penalty for picking up his ball in the rough. The Auburn University golfer held steady with pars through the turn, to stay within one or two strokes of the leaders.
On No. 10, Hanzel took the lead again when Harman bogeyed 10, but the youngster responded with a birdie of his own at 11 to once again move to six-under. Moseley moved to within a stroke of the leaders with a birdie at 11 as well. Meanwhile Noll, one group ahead, had already eagled 11 to go to four-under for the Championship and also move within striking distance of the lead.
Harman then connected on a six-foot birdie putt on No. 12 to go to seven-under, while Hanzel held par. On 13, a 154-yard par-3, Hanzel found trouble, hitting a tree and landing in a hazard and eventually taking a double-bogey. Harman, now with some breathing room, promptly birdied 14 with a 12-foot putt to take a four-stroke lead over Hanzel and three over Moseley.
Hanzel, the 2004 Georgia Mid-Amateur Champion, had only three bogeys through 66 holes before the double. He would finish with pars the rest of the way but could only hold on to fourth position, carding 72 for the day. Moseley would get to within two strokes with a birdie on 15, but would get no closer with a bogey on 16 and pars on 17 and 18 to close out his day at one-over 72. Noll kept himself in contention, coming in with birdies on 17 and 18 to finish with a 69 for the round, a six-under 278, and the runner-up finish.
Harman won back-to-back Georgia Junior Championships in 2002 and 2003 as well as the U.S. Junior Amateur title in 2003. A recent high school graduate, he will join the University of Georgia golf team this fall.
The Georgia Amateur Championship is conducted by the Georgia State Golf Association and brings together 156 of the state's best male amateur golfers for the prestigious state title first won by Bobby Jones in 1916. There were 130 qualifiers that joined 26 exempt players to make up the field. A total of 627 golfers entered the qualifying process, competing at 10 sites for the available places. The Championship format is 72 holes of stroke play over four days.
The field was cut to the low 70 and ties after the second round, with the cut line falling at 10-over 152 and 74 players advancing to the weekend. The par-71 layout at The Savannah Golf Club played to approximately 6,361 yards.