WOODSTOCK, Ga.(Sept. 24, 2011) – After the opening round of the 23rd Georgia Public Links Championship, four players share the lead at Towne Lake Hills Golf Club in Woodstock. The defending champion, William Mitchell of Roswell, is joined by Larry Clark of Kingston, Chris Minkley of Kennesaw and Matt Russell of Dunwoody at the top of the leaderboard with 3-under-par 69 totals.
Mitchell, who won this event last year with a 2-over-par 146 score at BridgeMill Athletic Club in Canton, finished in the runner-up spot at this year’s Georgia Amateur Championship at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta. In the past six Georgia Public Links Championships, the 47-year-old Mitchell has finished in the top-10 each year.
Should Mitchell put together another solid round in tomorrow’s final round and successfully defend his title, he would become the fifth player in the history of the event to win it multiple times, and third player to win back-to-back titles. Jack Larkin of Atlanta (1996, ‘01), David Potts of Commerce (1994, ’95), Brent Sizemore of Calhoun (1998, ’99, ’07) and Dave Womack of McDonough (2003, ’05) are those who have claimed multiple titles.
Entering tomorrow’s final round, one player, Randall White of Canton, is within one stroke of the lead pack at 2-under-par 70. Two players, Scott Melton of Ringgold and Mark Sweeney of Monroe, are within two strokes at 1-under-par 71.
Between the four players tied for the opening-round lead, there was one eagle, 21 birdies, nine bogeys and one double-bogey. Russell earned his eagle on the 531-yard, par 5, 10th hole. Alex Geary of Acworth also recorded an eagle on the 495-yard, par 5 fifth hole.
In the other flights, Robert Fink III of Chamblee leads the first flight at 1-under-par 71. In the second flight, Bud Harrod of Americus leads at 8-over-par 80, and Ed Mathis of Rome leads the third flight at 11-over-par 83.
The field this week consists of 113 players, 72 with the lowest USGA Handicap Indexes and 63 minimum drawn by lottery. Three exemptions were given to the host club and flight winners from the previous year.
The par-72 layout at Towne Lake Hills Golf Club is playing to 6,784 yards for the Championship flight and 6,291 yards for the first, second and third fights. Only the players competing in the Championship flight are eligible for the overall title.
The final round gets underway Sunday with the first flight beginning at 9:10 a.m. and the second and third flights beginning at 8:30 a.m. The Championship flight starts at 12:20 p.m. The final pairing of Russell, Mitchell and Minkley tee off from hole No. 1 at 2:10 p.m
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