Mason Williams takes over lead at Southern Amateur
A course softened by heavy rains the previous three days yielded more low scores Thursday in the second round of the Southern Amateur Championship at the Sea Island Golf Club on the Georgia coast.

And Mason Williams made the most of the easier-than-usual playing conditions on the 7,024-yard, par-71 Plantation Course as he fired an 8-under-par 63 to take the lead at the halfway point of the four-round championship.

Williams, who plays for Georgia Southern University, sits atop the leaderboard at 14-under through the first 36 holes after opening the tournament Wednesday with a 6-under 65 while playing in the afternoon.

“I played really well today,” Williams said. “I got off to a hot start. I was 3-under through five (holes) which kinda kick-started everything. I got a little bit too aggressive in the middle of the round and got lucky to get away with some pars. And then, I finished strong. It was a fun day.”

Williams, from Bridgeport, W.Va., currently holds a three-shot advantage over two players while two others are four strokes back after two rounds.

He is actually the clubhouse leader overnight as play had to be suspended again late Thursday afternoon due to another thunderstorm. The horn sounded to get the players off the course at 5:30 p.m. as the wind began to gust, the air temperature cooled and the skies darkened over the St. Simons Sound in the distance.

Storms have rolled into the local area four straight days, cutting the Tuesday practice round short for some players and forcing a handful of players to close out their opening rounds by playing their final few holes Thursday morning as Wednesday’s first round was ultimately suspended by darkness before it could be completed following the resumption of play when the storm passed.

The field will be cut to the low 66 players and ties following the completion of round two. The projected cutline is 1-under.

The third round is scheduled for Friday with the final round set for Saturday. The forecast calls for rain showers starting at 1 p.m. Friday with a thunderstorm possible again early Saturday afternoon.

After finishing just before dark on Wednesday, Williams joined his same playing companions for one of the first starting times Thursday morning when the conditions were calm along the coast. He made a birdie on the opening two holes and his third birdie on the front nine on the tough par-4 fifth hole to reach 9-under for the tournament.

He started the back with his fourth and fifth birdies of the day on the short, par-4 10th and the long par-3 11th which plays to an elevated and tricky green. Williams added an eagle at the par-5 14th by sinking a 35-foot putt before posting his last red number of the round with a birdie at the par-4 17th after knocking down the flag-stick with his approach shot.

Williams has yet to make a bogey through 36 holes.

“I’ve played here a couple of times in the past,” he said. “I usually play it in the winter when it’s a lot firmer, a lot faster. To play it when it’s soft is a little different. You’ve gotta be a little more aggressive than you normally would.”

Williams holds a two-shot cushion over Birmingham, Ala., native Tom Fischer and University of North Carolina rising sophomore David Ford from Peachtree City, Ga.

Ford was still playing Thursday when play was halted. He was 7-under through 14 holes after making an eagle at the 14th just prior to the weather horn. Ford opened the week with a 4-under 67 on Wednesday.

Fischer, who will be a freshman at Ole Miss in the fall, finished his round in early afternoon. He signed for a 6-under 65 to reach 11-under after carding a 5-under 66 in round one which he finished early Thursday morning.

“I had two tap-in birdies to finish out the first round and that gave me some momentum going into the next round,” Fischer noted. “I really just kept it going, hit some good tap-in wedges and got off the tee well which is key out here.”

First-round leader Bryce Lewis settled for a 3-under 68 in round two after grabbing the early lead with his 7-under 64 in the first round. The University of Tennessee standout and this year’s Sunnehanna Amateur winner is tied for fourth at 10-under with Louisville golfer Jiri Zuska who followed up his first-round 65 with a 67 in the second round.

“I played fine today, but had two bogeys which is two too many,” Lewis said. “There’s no excuse to make a bogey out here this week. It’s pretty wide open and soft, so the ball’s not gonna get away from you. It’s such a wet-fest. I just didn’t make enough putts today to shoot 7-under like yesterday.”

Lewis came into this week leading the point standings for the first-year Elite Amateur Golf Series after the first four events. The Southern Am is the fifth tourney in the seven-event series which will land the points champion exemptions into USGA Championships, select PGA Tour events and Korn Ferry tournaments.

• • • • •


SEC Bound: Tom Fischer will be in contention for the Southern Amateur Championship in this 116th edition of the tournament going into the weekend after playing really well the first two days of the tournament on Sea Island’s Plantation Course.

Fischer was three shots off the lead when the second round was suspended by inclement weather Thursday evening as he is 11-under-par for the championship through 36 holes after shooting 66 in round one and then a 65 in round two.

Fischer is a recent graduate of Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Ala., and has signed to play collegiate golf with Ole Miss starting in the fall. He was the No. 2 recruit coming out of Alabama and won two state championships while competing for his high school team.

He can’t wait to join the Rebels in Oxford. “I’m super excited to go to Ole Miss and just see what I can do,” he said.

Getting one of the top prospects out of Alabama was definitely good work by the Rebels considering the strength of the men’s golf programs at SEC rivals Alabama and Auburn.

“I just loved it,” he said about Ole Miss. “I just loved Ole Miss as a whole. It’s a good fit.”

Eagles’ Nest: Georgia Southern University is located in Statesboro, Ga., which is less than a two-hour drive from St. Simons Island and the Sea Island Golf Club where this week’s tournament is taking place.

But, that was not a drive three players who play for the NCAA Division I program wanted to make all week. So, current tournament leader Mason Williams and his Eagles teammates Ben Carr, a two-time Southeastern Amateur champion, and Brantley Baker are renting a house on the island and making that their living quarters for the week.

“The Eagles are together,” Williams quipped during his post-round interview.

Lowering Par: The Plantation Course normally plays as a traditional par-72 with two par-5 holes and a pair of par-3 holes on both the front and back nines.

This week, though, the Southern Golf Association has made it a par-71 track by turning the usual par-5 eighth hole into a long-par-4.

The eighth, which features a big fairway bunker on the right side of the fairway and a large green that is guarded by a water hazard that runs along the right side, is playing 482 yards this week from the back tee.

The hole ranked as the third most difficult in round one, according to the course statistics for the day as there were 33 bogeys, four double-bogeys and one “other” score made there. There were only two other holes where more bogeys were made than on No. 8 in round one.

When play was stopped by the bad weather Thursday, the eighth was playing as the toughest hole of the day with 53 bogeys made there, 18 doubles and four “others.”

Big-Time: It looks like defending champion Maxwell Moldovan will indeed play the weekend as he finished round two at 2-under for the championship with a huge finish.

With the live scoring showing the projected cut coming at 1-under, Moldovan, who shot even-par 71 in the opening round, found himself 3-over for the tournament after going out in 38 strokes Thursday after making an early bogey and then a double-bogey at the par-4 ninth.

He quickly went to 4-over with a bogey at No. 11, but he righted his ship near the Atlantic Ocean when he proceeded to score three birdies in a row to get back to 1-over and made another birdie on the par-3 16th to get back to even before finishing with a bang as he eagled the par-5 18th which plays around a watering hole to end up shooting an amazing 69 and get into red figures.

Results: Southern Amateur
1GADavid FordPeachtree Corners, GA120067-62-70-65=264
T2Czech RepublicJiri ZuskaCzech Republic90065-67-69-66=267
T2WVMason WilliamsBridgeport, WV90065-63-68-71=267
4NCCaleb SurrattIndian Trail, NC70068-68-64-68=268
5TNBryce LewisHendersonville, TN70064-68-68-70=270

View full results for Southern Amateur

ABOUT THE Southern Amateur

The Southern Amateur, which dates back to 1902, is one of two competitions held by the Southern Golf Association (the other is the Southern Junior). This is a 72-hole stroke play championship with a cut made after 36 holes. Entries are open to any male amateur golfer who has a current USGA Handicap Index® not exceeding 3.4 under the USGA Handicap System. Non-exempt players must pre-qualify at one of the qualifying sites held across the southern U.S. in the two months leading up to the championship.

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