Georgia Golf Association photo
A year ago William Love
held the 36-hole lead at the Georgia Amateur and couldn’t finish the job. This year, in the same situation, Love drew from his experience and closed the deal on the weekend to win the 101st Georgia Amateur at The Landings Club in Savannah.
Love, a recent graduate of Westminster and a Duke signee, had such a large lead that he was able to survive a final-round 76 and hang on to beat Billy Abdow
of Duluth by two shots. Love’s first three rounds of 69-67-68 gave him plenty of wiggle room – he led by as many as six shots on the final nine – and he was able to shoot 8-under 280 and hoist the Robert H. Martin Trophy that bears the names of such greats at Bobby Jones, Allen Doyle and Arnold Blum.
“I had a close call last year and to actually have it happen this year feels amazing,” Love said. “Definitely on that back nine I learned a lot about myself and learned that no matter how bad things seem to get, you can make it work, you can find a way to manage and get your way through.”
Love was up by six shots with eight holes to play when he had a bad lie in a fairway bunker on the 11th hole that led to a double-bogey. He then made bogeys at No. 12, No. 13 and No 14 and saw his lead shrink to three shots.
After steadying himself – and with steady high school teammate Daniel Wood as his caddie -- Love hit his approach shot on the 18th hole in the hazard in front of the green, but got a decent lie and was able to make a double-bogey.
“I was feeling comfortable and I guess I got a little too comfortable on the back nine,” Love said. “I got brought back to reality a little bit and really had to grind my way in, but to come out on top feels really special.”
Abdow, a rising junior at Rivers Academy, closed with a 74 to shoot 6-under 282. Logan Perkins of Locust Grove, who just finished his career at West Virginia, shot 74 and finished third at 283. Bruce Murphy of Johns Creek and J.D. Culbreth of Thomasville tied for fourth at 284. Murphy’s final-round 69 shared the low score on the day.
Love admitted that he was a bit nervous on the first tee, despite the big lead. It didn’t show, as his approach on the opening hole finished about five feet away and he rolled in the birdie to expand the advantage to five shots.
“I played really solid on the front nine,” he said. “At 11 is where things started to take a turn. I made double there and I just told myself, I’ve played such good golf that I could afford some mistakes and still be OK.”
Players were also racing to beat the weather. There had been rain delays during the three previous rounds, which forced the third round to be completed on Sunday morning – Love had to play 25 holes on Sunday. The final round finished about 15 minutes before a storm clobbered the clubhouse area.
Winning the state amateur was a big deal for Love, who has been playing since he was 2 or 3 and has always been encouraged by his father David, who walked every step of the way to watch his son. Love has had a good season; he helped Westminster win the state championship and he was named high school golfer of the year by the AJC.
Defending champion Harris Barth
, who was Love’s teammate at Westminster, had to withdraw at the last minute because of a shoulder injury.
“It was really special to get my name on that trophy and be a part of Georgia history, especially after my teammate took home the trophy last year,” Love said. “I told him early in the week I’m going to try to do this for him and keep the title and it felt really good to be able to follow up on what he did.”
By Stan Awtrey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ABOUT THE Georgia Amateur
A field of 144 of the state's best will compete
over 72 holes of stroke play with the field cut to
the low 70 and ties after 36 holes.
Open to male amateur golfers; non-exempt
through one of 11 statewide qualifiers
View Complete Tournament Information