Danny Nelson (center) shakes hands with runner-up John Skeades III as 2016
champion Tripp Coggins looks on (Ben Brengman/Savannah Morning News)
By Elmo Weeks, Savannah Morning News
SAVANNAH, GA (September 4, 2017) - The competitive fires still burn for Danny Nelson, and he rekindled championship form in the final round of the Savannah City Amateur played on Monday at Bacon Park Golf Course.
Nelson, 55, posted a final-round score of 4-under-par 67 to catch 36-hole leader John Skeadas III and then made par on the first playoff hole to win his fifth City Am title. Nelson also won the tournament in 1990, 1992, 1998 and 2012, but this win may reignite the passion that drove Nelson to be one of Georgia’s top amateur golfers for two decades.
Nelson was one of only two players to post a score under par in the third round. The other was the father of the runner-up, three-time champion John Skeadas II, who eagled the eighth hole and finished with a 2-under 69 in the third round to climb into a tie for fifth.
Skeadas III, who started the day with a four-stroke lead over Nelson, still led the tournament by a stroke through 15 holes on Monday. Nelson’s second shot to the par-4 16th hole sailed long and left, settling near the forward tees of the 17th hole.
Nelson managed to flip a wedge shot onto the green about 6 feet from the hole, and he was tied for the lead when he calmly sank his putt and Skeadas missed a downhill par putt. Skeadas made bogeys on Nos. 15, 16 and 17 but birdied the 18th hole to force a playoff.
“In every tournament you win, there’s one thing that happens whether it’s lucky or whatever,” Nelson said. “It wasn’t lucky but that up and down (on No. 16) was what I could do 25 years ago. It was one of the best up and downs of my life given the situation.”
Nelson had a 5-foot putt to win the tournament on the 18th green but could not get it to drop. Skeadas hit his tee shot on the first playoff hold behind an oak tree that led to bogey, and Nelson was able to capture the win with a two-putt par.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed, and there’s not much else to say,” said Skeadas, who finished runner-up for the second time despite carding an even-par 71 on Monday and finishing the tournament with a score of 7-under-par 207 for 54 holes. “(Nelson) played a great round of golf, but at the same time I feel like I had my opportunities. I hung in there pretty well today, and if you told me before the tournament started I would shoot (7 under), I would have absolutely taken it.”
Nelson, a single father after losing his wife, Cathy, in 2014, has not played or practiced as much as he once did. But he told himself before the City Am that it was time to return to the form that made him one Savannah’s most consistent and successful amateur golfers.
“I’ve been so frustrated, and I was so tired of playing poorly,” Nelson said. “I didn’t have any confidence, and I haven’t been able to work on my game. This week’s intensity came from telling myself I wasn’t going to screw up this time.
“I know I can play and it was time to show it again,” Nelson added.
Nelson didn’t make a bogey in the third round and was 2 under on both the first nine and the second nine on the restored Donald Ross course at Bacon Park. Following his miraculous par on No. 16, he hit his tee shot on the 240-yard par-3 17th hole into the middle of the green and then reached the par-5 18th hole with his second shot.
“I’m not a quitter,” Nelson said. “Golf is my release, and I need it. This gives me the confidence I needed, and it helps with the belief that I can do it under pressure because there were a number of times I could have folded but I didn’t.”
Howard Bacon carded a third-round score of 3-over 74 to overtake Frank Costanzo and win the Senior Division.
Bacon began the day two strokes behind 36-hole leaders Tommy Chu and Costanzo. But Costanzo faded to an 8-over 79 and Bacon was able to edge runner-up Chris Holland, whose 73 was the third round’s lowest score.
Gary Friend finished with a 72 and won the Legends Division with a score of even-par 213.
Friend ended up eight strokes in front of runner-up Doug Burford, whose 70 in the second round was one of only two under-par rounds in the division during the tournament.
View results for Savannah City Amateur
ABOUT THE Savannah City Amateur
Long a favorite of Savannah area
players and contested on a classic 1926
Donald Ross design,
tournament has been won by local legends
Doug Hanzel (5-time champ), Danny Nelson (5-time
champ) and Jack Hall
(multiple titles) play each year. Championship and
flighted divisions, plus a women's division and
gross and net competitions for seniors and super
View Complete Tournament Information