DAHLONEGA, Ga. (Aug 27, 2010) – Spencer Sappington grabbed the lead at the 12th hole and held on, despite three bogeys down the stretch, to make history by winning his fifth Georgia Senior Championship title at 1-over-par 211. The 24th annual event took place at Achasta Golf Club, August 25-27.
Sappington edged 36-hole leader Larry Clark of Kingston and Bill Blalock of Atlanta by one stroke. Clark posted a final-round 75 to drop to the runner-up spot, while Blalock came in with a 69 – one of just two competitors to shoot under par in the final round.
Jack Kearney of Peachtree City, who shared the first-round lead with Clark after opening with a 67, finished alone in fourth place at 3-over 213. Donnie Crump of Atlanta and Don Marsh of Johns Creek finished tied for fifth at 214. Dave Wilder of Braselton, the only other player to shoot 69 on Friday, moved up to a tie for seventh with Brian Johnston of Duluth at 215. Three players tied for ninth place at 216 – Walter Hope of Gainesville, Bill Leonard of Kennesaw and Ken Walters of Kennesaw.
Clark entered the day with a two-shot lead over Sappington, and that lead was still in place at the turn. Clark bogeyed 11, however, and then the lead changed hands at 12 where Clark bogeyed and Sappington carded his first birdie of the day. Clark suffered his third-straight bogey at 13, while Sappington posted his second-straight birdie, and all of a sudden his lead was three shots.
Just when it appeared he might cruise to the title, Sappington started finding trouble as well. Up three shots with two holes to play (although he wasn’t completely sure where he stood at that point), Sappington bogeyed the par-3 17th when he tee shot fell short of the green, his chip shot flew well past the hole, and the downhill comeback putt stopped about four feet short.
“It’s funny, because I really define this tournament for me by two bogey putts,” Sappington said. “On the first day, I bogeyed No. 1, scrapped to a par on two, and was on my way to a double-bogey at three, but I somehow made the bogey putt. And then from that point on I played well (4-under over the next 15 holes). Today, that bogey putt on 17 was critical. It was a tricky downhill shot that I needed to make.”
He made the putt at 17 for a two-shot cushion heading into 18, which he also bogeyed, resulting in the one-shot margin of victory.
Sappington becomes the first five-time champion in the event’s history. He was the first to collect four titles (2003-05, ’07) and Bill Ploeger of Columbus matched him a year later (1995, ’97, ’99, 2008). Sappington, a member of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, also won the Georgia Super Senior Championship (for ages 65 and older) earlier this year, his second title in that event.
After the second round, the field was cut to the low 70 and ties, with the cutline falling at 13-over 153 and 74 players advancing to the final round. Achasta Golf Club played to 6,334 yards.
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