Michael Johnson Wins Alabama Match Play Title

Michael Johnson of Birmingham is the new champion of the State Match Play Championship, played at Saugahatchee Country Club in Opelika. In a real battle of endurance, Johnson, 17 and a rising senior at Spain Park High School in Hoover, won six matches over three days to be crowned champion. On Saturday's final day he beat No. 1 seed Glenn Northcutt, who is from Dothan and played for Auburn, 1 up in the semifinals and then beat Zachary Portemont, who is from Andalusia and plays golf for Troy University, 2 & 1 in the final. Portemont beat David Zickler, who is from Florence and plays for Auburn, in the other semifinal. Johnson, who has committed to play for Auburn and will start on the Plains in 2011, never led his semifinal against Northcutt, runner-up in the State Amateur earlier this summer to Hunter Hamrick, until the 18th hole. Johnson came on strong on the back nine, playing it five-under-par, to pip Northcutt, holing a 20-footer on the final green for the winning birdie. In the final it was the exact opposite as he was never headed by Portemont, but never led by more than two holes in a tight match. Johnson shot four-under-par on the front nine to lead 2 up and he kept ahead on the back nine until Portemont ran out of holes. "It feels really good to win a state championship," Johnson, the reigning 6-A State High School individual champion, said. "My toughest match was against Glenn. He's had a great summer and plans to turn pro later this year. It was special to come back and beat him. And then I kept it going in the final."

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