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Georgia Senior: Thomas Birdies 18 to Win

COLUMBUS, GA (August 29, 2009)--With a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe at the 18th hole, Jimmy Thomas of Johns Creek fired a 1-over-par 72 in the final round to post a tournament-total 1-over 214 and edge four-time champion and second-round leader Spencer Sappington of Milton by two strokes at Georgia Senior Championship. The 23rd annual event took place at Green Island Country Club, August 26-28.

Local Bobby Brent of Columbus and Jerry Greenbaum of Atlanta battled for the top spot during the early part of the final round, but both wound up tied for third at 217, three strokes back of Thomas. Bill Leonard of Kennesaw, Bill Newsom of Clarkesville and past champion Larry Clark of Kingston all tied for fifth at 218. Karl Simon of Lawrenceville and another past champion, Tommy Reid of Macon, shared eighth place at 219. Bill Blalock of Atlanta posted the low round of the day, 69, to move into a 10th-place tie with Ernie Venet of Moultrie at 220.

Defending champion and Green Island member Bill Ploeger of Columbus posted a final-round 74 and finished tied for 12th place.

Sappington began the day with a one-stroke lead over Clark and Thomas, but it was Greenbaum, playing one group ahead, who made the early charge with birdies on his first two holes. He added another birdie with a long putt on No. 7 to move to 1-under-par for the tournament, the only player to break into the red numbers during the round. Sappington had bogeyed his first hole to move back to even and added two more bogeys at holes four and six, which meant Greenbaum's birdie at the seventh gave him a three-stroke lead.

Despite a bogey at No. 9, Greenbaum sat at even-par and held a two-shot advantage over Sappington at the turn. But it was still a five-man race, as Thomas and Brent were both hanging in there at 1-over, and Clark dropped back to 2-over with Sappington. Thomas played a steady front nine with just one bogey (No. 5).

Things got a little more interesting on the back nine. Both Sappington (bogey on No. 10) and Clark (No. 11) dropped to 3-over, and Brent posted three bogies, one double and a birdie in a five-hole stretch from 11-15 to move to 3-over as well. Greenbaum stayed steady with pars through 14, and Thomas squared things up, moving to even-par with a birdie on 13.

Greenbaum's approach at the 15th landed in a bush off the green, and after a drop, he wound up with double bogey. Thomas held sole possession of the lead, but not for long. His tee shot on the par-3, 173-yard 16th found the water, and he had to settle for a double bogey of his own. This time, however, he wasn't tied with Greenbaum (who had bogeyed 16 himself), but Sappington, who made a 10-foot par putt on 16 to move back to 2-over and knot it up with Thomas. Greenbaum sat one stroke back.

Both Sappington and Thomas parred the par-5 17th, and went to the 18th tee still tied. Thomas' approach landed just in the fringe on the high side of the green, while Sappington's came up short and rolled back into a bunker fronting the green. His bunker shot just missed the green, and he couldn't get up and down for par. Thomas, just needing par to win the Championship, sunk the 20-footer for birdie.

Playing in just his third Senior Championship, Thomas described his win as "very emotional" and said it was a "great testimony." Over the last year he had battled neck cancer, undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and didn't know if he would ever play golf again. After picking the game back up just this past April, he said his goal for this week was to "enjoy myself and have fun."

The final round was delayed two and a half hours on Friday after 1.8 inches of rain fell on the golf course in the early morning hours.

The Georgia Senior Championship was conducted by the Georgia State Golf Association. Entries were open to male amateur golfers at least 55 years old as of August 26, 2009, who belong to a GSGA Member Club. The field of 144 was determined by the lowest USGA Handicap Indexes.

After the second round, the field was cut to the low 70 players and ties, with the cutline falling at 14-over 156 and 74 players advancing.

Founded in 1916, the Georgia State Golf Association (GSGA) received its official charter on June 24, 1924. Since that date, the GSGA has grown to one of the largest state amateur golf associations in the country, with over 355 member clubs and 85,000 individual members. With a mission to promote and preserve amateur golf in the state of Georgia, GSGA offers a computerized handicapping service, course rating and measuring, and annually conducts a full schedule of statewide competitions for men and women of all age groups. Other services include a summer-long junior sectional program, award-winning Golf Georgia magazine, membership recognition and rewards programs and a charitable foundation administering two college scholarship programs.

Georgia State Golf Association
23rd Annual Georgia Senior Championship
Green Island Country Club, Columbus
August 26-28, 2009

Final Results
Par 71

Place Name Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Score To Par
1 Jimmy Thomas, Johns Creek 72 70 72 214 1
2 Spencer Sappington, Milton 69 72 75 216 3
T3 Bobby Brent, Columbus 71 73 73 217 4
T3 Jerry Greenbaum, Atlanta 69 75 73 217 4
T5 Bill Leonard, Kennesaw 72 75 71 218 5
T5 Bill Newsom, Clarkesville 73 73 72 218 5
T5 Larry Clark, Kingston 73 69 76 218 5
T8 Karl Simon, Lawrenceville 73 72 74 219 6
T8 Tommy Reid, Macon 74 72 73 219 6
T10 Bill Blalock, Atlanta 78 73 69 220 7
T10 Ernie Venet, Moultrie 76 72 72 220 7
T12 Bill Ploeger, Columbus 70 77 74 221 8
T12 Don Marsh, Alpharetta 72 75 74 221 8
T12 Matt O'Brien, Decatur 77 72 72 221 8
T15 Donald Crump, Atlanta 75 70 77 222 9
T15 Steve Schwartz, Savannah 75 76 71 222 9
T17 Jim Planche, Lawrenceville 69 79 76 224 11
T17 Joe Whisenant, Douglasville 71 76 77 224 11
T17 Ron Hunter, Jasper 69 76 79 224 11
T17 Taylor Adams, St. Simons Island 74 72 78 224 11
T21 Bill Evans, Columbus 71 74 80 225 12
T21 Duffy Oelberg, Peachtree City 76 72 77 225 12
T21 John Davis, Atlanta 79 75 71 225 12
T21 Mike Jackson, Martinez 74 76 75 225 12
T21 Nick Kirkland, Snellville 77 73 75 225 12
T21 Phil Pavoni, Macon 74 73 78 225 12
27 Jim Kamis, Marietta 73 76 77 226 13
T28 Dave Wilder, Braselton 78 75 74 227 14
T28 Doug Cole, Lawrenceville 78 73 76 227 14
T28 Joe Brogdon, Macon 79 73 75 227 14
T28 Sid Gilstrap, Columbus 75 71 81 227 14
T28 Stokeley Pound, Pine Mountain 79 74 74 227 14
T33 Donald Lorson, Woodstock 74 75 79 228 15
T33 Pete Malcolm, Duluth 75 78 75 228 15
T35 Bob Cecil, Acworth 80 74 75 229 16
T35 Frank Perry, Fayetteville 79 77 73 229 16
T35 Rob Lauer, Newnan 78 78 73 229 16
T38 Buddy Williams, Carrollton 76 77 77 230 17
T38 Don Russell, Atlanta 72 78 80 230 17
T38 Eddie Register, Sugar Hill 77 77 76 230 17
T41 Daniel Rhoads, Flowery Branch 71 85 75 231 18
T41 Dave Sexton, Suwanee 75 78 78 231 18
T41 Gordon Harrison, Kennesaw 76 77 78 231 18
T44 Barry McCormick, Powder Springs 79 76 77 232 19
T44 Dick Donegan, Kennesaw 80 75 77 232 19
T44 Ron Savastano, Roswell 76 79 77 232 19
T47 Curt Knorr, Dunwoody 75 79 79 233 20
T47 Curtis Wagner, Peachtree City 78 74 81 233 20
T47 David Nichols, Roswell 75 78 80 233 20
T47 Don Chambers, Fayetteville 77 78 78 233 20
T47 Michael Kelley, Martinez 81 75 77 233 20
T47 Richard Farage, Warner Robins 76 79 78 233 20
53 Jim Lester, Columbus 77 78 79 234 21
T54 Martin Ball, Rome 77 77 81 235 22
T54 Mike Tarnoff, Warner Robins 75 80 80 235 22
T54 Pete Livezey, Atlanta 74 78 83 235 22
57 Berney Armstrong, Valdosta 76 74 86 236 23
T58 Harvey Gammon, Duluth 78 77 82 237 24
T58 James Jarrell, Columbus 80 74 83 237 24
T58 Michael Green, McDonough 77 78 82 237 24
T58 Tom Flowers, Columbus 77 79 81 237 24
62 Edward Rock, Bogart 79 77 85 241 28
63 Jake Shirley, Newnan 77 79 86 242 29
T64 Alan Thielemann, Woodstock 77 71 WD
T64 Brett Blevins, Canton 78 78 WD
T64 Carl Carroll, Odum 78 77 WD
T64 Doug Faulkner, Martinez 79 76 WD
T64 Erik Daniels, Marietta 78 73 WD
T64 Ken Benson, Alpharetta 79 75 WD
T64 Kent Blevins, Canton 82 74 WD
T64 Martin Horsky, St. Simons 71 79 WD
T64 Randy Bowman, Summerville 80 75 WD
T64 Richard Van Leuvan, Roswell 79 74 WD
T64 Tom Toombs, Perry 78 77 WD
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