Mason Williams remains on top at the Southern Amateur
15 Jul 2022
by Kevin Price of AmateurGolf.com

see also: View results for Southern Amateur, Idle Hour Country Club, Mason Williams Rankings

Mason Williams (Kevin Price photo)
Mason Williams (Kevin Price photo)

Mason Williams will sleep on the lead a second straight night as he held onto the top spot on the leaderboard after the third round Friday in the Southern Amateur Championship at the Sea Island Golf Club’s Plantation Course located on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia.

The Georgia Southern University golfer carded a 3-under-par 68 to reach 17-under for the tournament, giving him a three-shot cushion over North Carolina player David Ford going into Saturday’s final round.

Ford shot a 1-under 70 score Friday on the par-71 layout and stands at 14-under through the first 54 holes of this long-running championship.

Williams seemed comfortable with going home with the lead once again.

“It was a good sleep last night, and hopefully it’ll be another good one tonight, too,” said the Bridgeport, W.Va., native.

The third round was the first this week that wasn’t interrupted by a weather delay. Th first two rounds were suspended by afternoon thunderstorms which are common in the South during the hot and humid summer months.

The forecast for Friday did call for showers in the early afternoon. The early forecast for Saturday shows a possible thunderstorm as early as 11 a.m. with showers possible through early afternoon but the chances diminishing after 2 p.m.

The final round is set for a 7:30 a.m. start with the final group teeing off at 9:20. Players will start from the first and 10th tees.

The last pairing will include the leader Williams along with Ford and Caleb Surratt who moved into a tie for third at 10-under with a 7-under 64 in the third round. Surratt, who won the Terra Cotta Invitational a second straight time in May and is the reigning Western Junior champion, is the current points leader in the Elite Amateur Golf Series.

Surratt, who is headed to play at the University of Tennessee, finished fourth in the Sunnehanna Amateur, third at the Northeast Amateur and ninth at the North and South Amateur already this summer. Those were the first three tournaments in the Elite Series.

The Southern Amateur is the fifth of the seven events that make up the series. The points champion will earn exemptions to upcoming USGA championships, select PGA Tour events and also Korn Ferry tournaments.

Also looking to chase down the lead Saturday will be Bryce Lewis, the current No. 2 player in the Elite Series Cup standings. Lewis, who already plays for Tennessee, will play in the next-to-last group on Saturday. He is also at 10-under for the tournament.

Lewis held the lead after round when he posted a 7-under 64 score. He has shot 68 in the last two rounds. Lewis won the Sunnehanna Amateur in June to kick off the Elite Series and finished fourth at the Northeast Amateur in his second series appearance.

Williams collected series points by finishing 23rd at the Sunnehanna and 33rd at the North and South. He came to the Southern Am in 62nd place in the point standings, but could make a big jump in the standings with a victory on Saturday.

David Ford
He opened the tournament Wednesday with a 65 which quickly got him into contention as he was just a shot off the lead following the round. He took the lead Friday with his 8-under 63 round which is the second-best single-round score of the week.

Williams turned in bogey-free scorecards the first two days, but finally made his first bogey of the week Friday at the par-5 fourth hole. He had already made a birdie at the second, though.

He made another bogey on the back nine, but also added four more birdies including two over the final three holes by sinking lengthy downhill-putts.

“I got off to kind of a rocky start,” Williams said. “It was just kind of squirrelly off the tee, never really got it in play to give myself good looks at birdie. The swing wasn’t really there like it was the first two days, but it wasn’t anything insane. I did finish well which was good.”

Ford, a Georgia native from Peachtree Corners, bolted into contention with a hot finish to his second round when he made five birdies on his homeward nine and also an eagle at the par-5 14th for a 29 on the back and a 62 score for the round which is the best tally of the week thus far.

On Friday, he was tied for the lead with Williams at one point on the back nine, but trailed the leader by a shot coming to the par-5 18th where eagles and birdies have been aplenty all week.

Williams managed a birdie after finding a fairway bunker off the tee, but Ford took a bogey after his approach found the water hazard surrounding the green, making for a two-shot swing at the finish as he ended up signing for a 70.

You wouldn’t think Ford would have a chance to claim a big win in amateur golf this week if you had asked him about his game before he arrived at Sea Island.

“I’ve been waiting for two years to play well,” he said, despite knowing just a couple of weeks ago it took the eventual champion 21 holes to knock him out in the quarterfinals at the North and South Am in Pinehurst.

“The only tournament I played well this spring was the national championship. I played solid there. I haven’t had my A-game in awhile, but the first two rounds here I’ve played really, really solid.”

Tournament Notebook

Ford's Frustration: David Ford is still very much alive for the Southern Amateur title heading into the final round on Saturday.

But Ford walked off the course a bit frustrated Friday afternoon after taking the aforementioned bogey at the par-5 finishing hole when his second shot landed in the water around the green.

He said he felt the wayward shot was a direct result of having mud on his ball. Ford had ripped a drive to the middle of the fairway and chose to go for the green on his second shot.

He ended up having to take a drop, then hit his fourth shot onto the green and two-putted for bogey.

Tournament leader Mason Williams finished with a birdie and his lead over Ford went from a shot to three shots.

Ford asked a rules official as he walked off the green who decides if the golfers have to play the ball down rather than implementing the lift, clean and place rule.

The Plantation course has been softened by the rains all week, leaving it possible for balls to collect mud when they land in the fairways or other closely mowed areas.

Ford expressed his frustrations in a post-round interview.

“I’ve been talking about it all week with guys,” he said, “and it just makes no sense why we’re not playing it up. I’ve gotten a mud ball on like 14 holes everyday except for the par-3s.

“On 18, it really hurt me because I hit a really good shot there. It was a really good number, and it just went straight left. I’m not gonna lay up from 237 (yards). It’s frustrating, but it’s how it goes some days.”

They’re all lined up: Four of the players who came into the week among the top 10 in the point standings for the first Elite Amateur Golf Series are inside the top 15 on the leaderboard at Sea Island going into Saturday’s closing round.

Caleb Surratt and Bryce Lewis, who are first and second, respectively, in the point standings after the first four series tournaments, are tied for third going into Saturday. Meantime, Jiri Zuska is among the three players tied for fifth going into the final round. Zuska, who plays at Louisville, came into the week in eighth place in the Elite series standings.

Also, Australian Karl Villips, who is third in the points race at present, sits in 13th place here going into Saturday’s round.

Crunching Numbers: The average score in round three was 69.63. … There were five eagles posted on Friday, along with 297 birdies. … A total of 46 players broke par out of the 71 who made the cut which came at 1-under-par. … The easiest hole in round three was No. 4, a par-5, where the average score was 4.56. … The hardest hole was No. 7, a par-3, where the average score was 3.28.

Use This One: The tourney leader Williams got hot on the greens at the finish on Friday, making birdie putts on the par-3 16th and the par-5 18th which were long and also downhill to the hole.

He said this about the one he drained at the closing hole after he was forced to lay up well short of the green on his second shot following his tee shot that landed in a fairway bunker.

“I really wanted to make that one,” Williams said. “That was a good one to finish on. It’ll make dinner taste a little better.”

Behind the Name: The Plantation course gets its name because it is built on an old plantation named Retreat Plantation.

Another course that is part of the Sea Island Golf Club is named Retreat.

The players might have noticed a large plaque as they made their way to the first tee this week that explains the property’s background.

It reads: “The Sea Island Golf Club is located on the lands of Retreat Plantation, a Sea Island cotton plantation of the antebellum days. This area of Retreat, in part a colonial grant to James Spalding Esq., was purchased in 1804 by Major William Page of South Carolina whose only daughter, Anna, married Hon. Thomas Butler King. Visitors will be interested in the ruins of the dwelling house and the slave hospital as well as in the slave burying ground. The tabby barn, formerly a storehouse for corn, served as the clubhouse for the Sea Island Golf Club from 1928 until 2001.”

On a related note, the barn, referred to by club members as the Corn Barn, is now used as the tournament office for the RSM Classic, a PGA Tour event hosted by the Davis Love Foundation on the Seaside and Plantation courses. It is located to the left of the first fairway. Golfers also pass it as they leave the ninth hole and head to the back side of the Plantation course.

This week, the Southern Golf Association is using space in the Corn Barn for its tournament office.

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.

View Complete Tournament Information

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