Georgia Mid-Am: Huge comeback win by Cooper

MACON, Ga. (May 23, 2010) -- Adam Cooper of Columbus posted a final-round 69 for a 7-under-par 209 total and a two-shot victory over 36-hole leader David Noll Jr. of Dalton at the 29th annual Georgia Mid-Amateur Championship. Cooper trailed Noll by six strokes entering the final round, but his deficit vanished as Noll carded a 5-over 77 in the final round.

Two-time defending champion Jeff Knox of Augusta finished third, three strokes back, with a final-round 71. Another former Mid-Amateur champion, Greg Kennedy of Duluth, tied for fourth with Jack Hall of Sea Island at 214. Chase Jones of Cartersville and Mark Northey of Savannah tied for sixth at 215, while Dave Poteet of Duluth and Harold Wyatt of Atlanta shared eighth spot at even-par 216. Kris Mikkelsen of Atlanta and Hal Johnson of Macon rounded out the top 10 at 217. Mikkelsen and Wyatt both shot 5-under 67 on Sunday, the low round of the day.

After breezing through the first two rounds at a 10-under clip with just one bogey through 36 holes, Noll, the 2007 Mid-Amateur Champion, found trouble early in the final round. He bogeyed the second hole, then carded a triple bogey on the 469-yard fourth after finding a hazard. Another bogey on No. 8, followed by his lone birdie of the day at No. 9, put him at 4-over for the day, yet still 6-under for the Championship and hanging on to a slim, one-stroke lead over Cooper.

Cooper, playing in the final group with Noll, was able to cut into the deficit with three birdies on the front nine (holes 1, 7 and 9) despite two bogeys of his own on the third and eighth holes. The two were tied after 11 after Noll posted bogey on the 215-yard par-3; the lead then changed hands as Cooper birdied the 488-yard 12th.

Noll was unable to make up the ground he had lost, posting pars the rest of the way. Cooper pushed his lead to two shots with another birdie on 15, but gave it back on 17 after his par putt just missed. Going into the 495-yard final hole with a one-shot lead, Cooper said he started to “feel the nerves,” but hit what he called his best shot of the day on his approach to the green, finding the fringe just short, but not far from the front-right hole location. Noll, meanwhile, ended up on the back of the green and his long comeback putt was slightly off mark. Cooper left himself a short putt for birdie to post his second-straight 69 and the two-shot margin of victory.

The win marks Cooper’s first GSGA title. The former Columbus State golfer returned to amateur competition in 2009, tying for runner-up honors in the Mid-Amateur Championship, tying for 14th at the Georgia Amateur and placing fifth in the Georgia Public Links Championship to finish sixth in the GSGA 2009 Player of the Year standings.

The Mid-Amateur field was cut to the low 70 and ties following Saturday’s round, with the cutline falling at 12-over 156 and 73 players advancing. The Brickyard at Riverside played to 7,111 yards and a par 72.

An online leader board, featuring all competitors’ complete scorecards, is currently available at www.gsga.org.

Entries were open to male amateur golfers who are GSGA members and age 25 or older as of the start of the championship. Non-exempt players had to qualify into the championship through one of six 18-hole qualifiers held across the state.

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.

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