BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 9, 2013) -- Michael Johnson is the champion of the 97th State Amateur Championship. He toured host course Hoover Country Club in rounds of 69-67-69-67–272 for a 16-under-par 72-hole total.
He bested overnight leader Robby Shelton IV by two shots as the 17-year-old University of Alabama signee from Wilmer shot 68-67-68-71–274. Alabama sophomore and Mountain Brook resident Tom Lovelady was third after rounds of 68-71-70-72–281.
Johnson, who just finished his sophomore year at Auburn and was a former Spain Park Jaguar, started the day two back of Shelton, but instantly took control of the championship and was two clear after just three holes. After they both parred the first, Shelton found the water on the par 3 second hole and his double bogey, combined with Johnson’s par, meant they were tied.
Johnson then hit a big drive and five-iron to eight feet on the par 5 third. The resultant eagle putt fell and he had a two shot lead. More magic was to follow as he chipped in for birdie on No. 4 to pad his lead to three shots.
But then Shelton methodically pegged Johnson back courtesy of birdies on Nos. 6, 8 and 9. Johnson also made a two on No. 8, but he made his only bogey of the day on No. 9 and they made the turn tied at 14-under-par.
However, there was another two-shot swing on No. 10 when Shelton three-putted and Johnson almost holed his pitch shot for an eagle, leaving a tap-in birdie.
Shelton was undeterred and birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 saw him close the gap again as standing on the 15th tee they were tied at 15-under-par.
However, a poor iron from Shelton meant he missed the green and could not get up-and-down to save par. His bogey, combined with a Johnson approach to within inches, meant the lead was back to two and would stay that way the rest of the round.
A short rain delay delayed the proceedings, but Johnson made par on the final three holes, while Shelton made bogey on 17 and birdie on 18.
“It means a lot to win the State Amateur. It’s always nice to win at home.”
This is Johnson’s second Alabama Golf Association state title as he also won the 2011 State Match Play.
“It was a really good battle (between Robby and me). I was very comfortable starting the round and got off to a fast start. This is a special win for me.”
Shelton will start his college career at Alabama in a couple of months and is the No. 1 ranked junior in the country .
“My swing felt good, but we had to wait a long time on the second tee and I made my worst swing of the tournament (and hit it in the water).
“I take a lot of pride in my performance and that I was able to hang with some good college players. I just wish I had not three-putted 10 and should have birdied 11. Those are two birdie holes and I feel like they cost me the championship.”
Click here for completed final round scores.
Next year’s State Amateur will be played at Lakewood Golf Club in Point Clear.
View results for Alabama State Amateur Golf Championship