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Golden Isles Invitational: Bryce Lewis is playoff victor
Winner Bryce Lewis and Brunswick GC head pro Dan Hogan
Winner Bryce Lewis and Brunswick GC head pro Dan Hogan

A July Fourth weekend tradition continued at coastal Georgia's Brunswick Country Club at the Golden Isles Invitational.

After plenty of fireworks (of the birdie and eagle variety) a playoff was required to settle the score with Eli Scott and Bryce Lewis tying the 54-hole event at 16-under 200.

Lewis, a member of the University of Tennessee golf team from Hendersonville, Tenn., won it on the first hole with a birdie.

The birdie continued a flawless day that saw him post 66 to Scott's 67 on a card that included no bogeys. It did include an eagle on the par-4 7th hole -- where he drove it to 3 feet on the reachable par four -- and four birdies (three of them on the back nine.)

Maybe it was meant to be the whole week.

Making the turn to No. 1 in Thursday's first round after a 10th tee start, Lewis rattled off six-straight birdies on Hole Nos. 10-15 on his way to an 8-under 64 (tied for the lead). And get this - it could have been seven-straight but not for a three putt by Lewis on No. 7, where he drove the green on the short par four.

Lewis added a 70 on Friday to enter the final day one behind Scott, who fired the low round of the tournament Friday, a 9-under 63.

With 36-hole leaders Stan Gann, Jr. (final round 73) and Mason Williams (final round 72) having trouble continuing the torrid pace that got them to 12-under, the lead was flopping around in the breeze, with Scott grabbing it with a birdie on No. 16 and keeping it with a par on No. 17.

Lewis, who played two groups in front of the leaders, could only watch from the clubhouse as the outcome was now out of his hands. He had a clear view of the final group coming in, and he thought the tournament was Scott's as he watched him over his pitching wedge approach to No. 18, after a lengthy drive to the middle of the fairway.

"I thought it was over when I saw where he drove it," Lewis said in a phone interview. "But then his approach flew the green leaving him a tough up-and-down for the win."

When Scott's pitch shot went 12 feet by and he failed to convert, the pair headed back out to No. 1 for a playoff. Scott drove it 20 yards past Lewis, giving him the first go at the pin and he didn't disappoint, stiffing his approach to 3-feet. Scott misjudged the distance and wound up with a longer birdie attempt from the front of the green, and when he didn't convert it was Lewis' chance to claim his first amateur/collegiate victory.

"I've won a lot of junior and regional events in Tennessee," said Lewis. "But to get a win like this against collegiate and amateur players is a first."

Shortly after holing the three footer for the win, Lewis got a congratulatory call from his Tennessee coach Brennan Webb.

"I have the best coach in the country," he said. "He really cares about all 15 players on the team."

Lewis will enter his sophomore year at Tennessee, while Scott is going to start playing at Georgia this year as a transfer junior (from the College of Coastal Georgia).


Scott Ferrell
TOURNAMENT NOTES

Hole in one -- Brunswick CC member Scott Ferrell made a hole in one on No. 17 today. He finished T10 at 10-under par.

Jackson Byrd -- son of PGA Tour star Jonathan Byrd -- was the youngest player in the field, at just 13 (turning 14 next month). Byrd finished in 14th place, and ahead of many collegiate players at 8-under par. Byrd will enter the 8th grade this fall.


Jackson Lawlor
Jackson Lawlor, who plays at the College of Coastal Georgia, is obviously not afraid of alligators. He is shown hitting out of the water to the green on No. 17.

Thanks to Susan Hogan for reporting.

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ABOUT THE Golden Isles Invitational

The Golden Isles Invitational dates back to 1949. That year, 'Dynamite' Goodloe claimed the inaugural championship - marking the beginning of a long-standing tradition at Brunswick Country Club. Through the years, this event has gained notoriety and popularity and continues to attract players of all ages and ability levels.

The Golden Isles Invitational is traditionally played over the July 4th holiday week and many players and their families travel to Brunswick and St. Simons to enjoy the golf, the beach and the celebration of our nation's independence. Invitations are mailed out the first week of May.

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