Dobbelaar survives long final day to win the Dogwood Invitational
- Savannah Richardson photo
- Savannah Richardson photo

The 54th Dogwood Invitational champion has been crowned, with Louis Dobbelaar of Australia holding off the field to win by two strokes with an 18-under total score.

It's the second major win for Dobbelaar in 2021, having won the Australian Amateur earlier this year in comeback fashion. Before that, he served notice of his potential by winning the New Zealand Amateur as a 15-year-old in 2016.

The final day of the Dogwood was a marathon day of golf for the field as they started with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun to finish out the rain-delayed third round. Dobbelaar opened the morning up with a birdie on nine to make the turn at 32. Then he stayed hot by making birdies on 11, 12 and 13. Those three birdies got him to 20 under par for the tournament. However, his first double bogey of the tournament on 15 pushed him back to 18 under heading into the final round of play.

Before that double bogey on 15, Dobbelaar had made 21 birdies over his last 44 holes.

After round three finished, the golfers all rested for an hour before going off on split tees to finish up the tournament. Tee times began around 1 p.m. and Dobbelaar’s group went off at 2:30 p.m. He was paired with Nick Lyerly of UNC Greensboro for the final round after Lyerly posted a 67 to get to 13 under.

The Aussie birdied seven and nine to close out the front nine with a 34, stretching his lead to five and getting back to 20 under. As for Lyerly, two pars and a birdie on nine put him at 37 at the turn.

Then the second rain delay of the tournament hit, forcing an hour long delay with eight-and-a-half holes left to play for the leaders.

Dobbelaar's momentum was slowed significantly after the resumption of play, and he had to earn pars on 10 through 15. Then he bogeyed 16 but still led four shots. A par on 17 gave him breathing room, which it turned out he needed on 18. Dobbelaar hit his tee shot into the bushes on the left side of the fairway and after hunting for his ball and finding it, he had to take an unplayable lie penalty. Then he hit his third shot into the fairway and laid up his fourth shot. But he calmly found the green with his fifth shot and sank the putt to close the round with a bogey and win by two shots.

“Gary, my caddie, did a great job of keeping me straight down the stretch when the nerves were getting to me a tad,” Dobbelaar said. “It had been a while since I held the lead and had that kind of pressure on me, so it was good I had him on the bag to keep me level-headed. I just played my game and was able to close it out.”

Dobbelaar held off University of Georgia golfer Nic Cassidy who shot a 62 to tie for second with Canadian mid-amateur Garrett Rank at 16 under par. Rank won the mid-amateur title but missed a six-foot birdie on 18 that would have given him solo second in the championship.

Manuel Lozada surged up the leader board with a 68 and Cole Anderson shot a 65 to tie for fourth at 15 under with Jack Crosby, who also shot a 68, and Lyerly who finished out his round with a 70. 36-hole co-leader Josh Edgar was part of a group tied for eighth at 14 under.

Dogwood Notables

Junior Gems: Two of the five junior golfers who were invited to play in this year’s tournament survived the 54-hole cut Saturday morning and played the final 18 in the afternoon to complete all four rounds.

Those players were Rolex All-Americans Maxwell Ford (Peachtree Corners, Ga.) who will enroll at the University of Georgia in the fall to play for the Bulldogs, and Tommy Morrison (Dallas, Texas), a rising junior in high school who is already committed to Texas. Ford finished in a three-way tied for third at 8-under-par 280 (73-68-66-73) while Morrison, who is 6-foot-9, was among four players tied for 31st at 5-under 283 (71-71-70-71).

Missing in Action: There were several notable names who did not make it beyond the third round when the field was cut to 41 players for the final 18.

With the cut line falling at 4-under, two players actually withdrew after making the cut. One was defending champion Brandon Mancheno (Jacksonville, Fla.) who was 11-under and seven off the lead pace. He was playing two groups in front of the final pairing. Mancheno, who planned to play the Sunnehanna (Pa.) Amateur next week, said he felt his right knee pop on his tee shot at the fifth hole. Unable to finish the round, he withdrew from the Dogwood, and the Sunnehanna and plans to see an orthopedist next week.

Also not playing the final 18 were former champion Ashton Poole who was even-par after three rounds, highly-ranked mid-amateur Derek Busby (1-over), sixth-ranked senior Bob Royak (4-over) and Latin American Amateur winner Abel Gallegos (6-over) who played in this year’s Masters tournament.

Summer Storms: Friday’s third-round was severely interrupted by thunderstorms that are common in Georgia during the summer months. A storm rolled into the Druid Hills area, northeast of downtown Atlanta, about 1:45 Friday afternoon and play was halted due to heavy rain and lightening about 15 minutes later.

Play did not resume until 6:05 p.m., and thus the final pairing of the day did not start its round until about 7 when the leaders were scheduled for a 2:45 start. They made it through seven holes and returned to the course to finish out their round early Saturday along with all others who failed to finish.

Saturday’s final round did not begin until 1:05 p.m. with the field going off both sides of the course in twosomes. The leaders started at 2:30, just 30 minutes ahead of the original scheduled time for the awards ceremony.

The final round also was stopped by a thunderstorm at 4:50, despite only a 15 percent chance for rain in the forecast for the humid afternoon. A weather horn could be heard in the distance coming from another nearby course. One player hinted that it might have been coming from East Lake Golf Club which is 3.7 miles away.

Play resumed at 6:15 with the final group on the 10th hole.

Tidbits: Ed Klein, tournament co-chair and 48th president of the Druid Hills Golf Club, spoke at the awards ceremony, thanking the membership for its support of the tournament while noting that many players noticed their support of the invitational … Solomon Dobbs, recent recipient of the Reynolds Scholarship which is sponsored by the Druid Hills Foundation was recognized at the awards ceremony. He is a rising junior at Morehouse College, where he is majoring in business administration while playing golf for the school ….. Canadian Garrett Rank, who tied for second and was this year’s low mid-amateur, made sure to thank the rules officials from the Georgia State Golf Association for their efforts during the tournament. “Being a rules official of a different kind, I want to thank you,” Rank said during the awards ceremony. “Just be glad you didn’t have people screaming at you and hitting rubber objects at you.” Rank is an NHL referee. He chose to make officiating hockey as a career and play golf for fun rather than a paycheck.

Notebook by Kevin Price of AmateurGolf.com

Results: Dogwood Invitational
1AustraliaLouis DobbelaarAustralia100068-64-66-72=270
T2GANicolas CassidyJohns Creek, GA70071-67-72-62=272
T2CanadaGarrett RankCanada70065-69-70-68=272
T4MECole AndersonCamden, ME50071-65-72-65=273
T4ArgentinaManuel LozadaArgentina50070-64-71-68=273

View full results for Dogwood Invitational

ABOUT THE Dogwood Invitational

Tournament week is June 6-11 at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. The entry fee includes breakfast and lunch tournament days as well as special events.

The history of this prestigious event extends back to 1941, when legendary amateur Tommy Barnes captured his first of five Dogwood titles. Evolving with the times, the modern Dogwood has produced fine champions like Webb Simpson (’07), Brian Harman (’09), Dawson Armstrong (’15), and in 2019 Brandon Mancheno. This evolution can be seen also in our course renovations and set-up, our relaxed tournament atmosphere, and our spirit of social responsibility.

Players are required to walk during tournament play and may carry their golf bag themselves (push carts are allowed) or take a caddie. Caddies may be requested in advance during registration, or players may select one on their own.

Player housing is provided on an as available basis to players only, caddies and traveling companions are not provided housing.

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