Records lowest total score in storied history of state championship
AUGUSTA, Ga. --- Justin Connelly of McDonough picked up right where he left off and held on to the lead to win the Georgia Amateur Championship. His 17-under-par 267 total score was two strokes better than Connor Coffee of Peachtree City, who earned runner-up honors at 15-under-par 269. The 96th edition of the state championship took place at West Lake Country Club, July 13-16.
Connelly becomes the 70th different winner of the Georgia Amateur Championship over the 96 times it has been played, and he did it in impressive fashion. His total score of 267 is the lowest ever in the storied history of this competition. The record was previously held by Russell Henley when he posted a 268 in 2009 to win his second consecutive state title at Country Club of Columbus.
This year Connelly, who is fresh off graduating from Mercer University in Macon where he played golf, began the championship on Thursday with four birdies and two bogeys for a 2-under-par 69. During Friday's second round, it was smooth sailing on the front side with nine pars, then on the back side he recorded four birdies and two bogeys for another 69, bringing his two-day total to 4-under.
On Saturday, Connelly started as hot as the temperature was by going par-eagle-birdie on 1-2-3, respectively. He would add six more birdies and two bogeys on the day for his 64, bringing his 54-hole total score to 11-under. He held a one-stroke advantage over Coffee, but kept his composure all day during Sunday's final round despite wet conditions due to heavy overnight rain. Connelly cruised to a bogey-free, six-birdie outing over the final 18 holes. Playing with a two-stroke cushion, Connelly made birdie on his 72nd hole to seal the deal and become the 2017 Georgia Amateur champion.
Coffee turned in an impressive performance of his own at 15-under-par 269 (69-69-65-66). A rising sophomore at Kennesaw State University, Coffee recorded 22 birdies to seven bogeys over the course of the 72-hole competition.
Joining Connelly and Coffee in the day's final group was Nathan Mallonee of Lexington, who finished at 10-under-par 274 (69-70-67-68) for third. Steven Fisk of Stockbridge came in fourth at 9-under-par 275 (71-68-68-68). In fifth place was 18-hole leader Jared O'Kelley of Canton at 8-under-par 276 (67-68-71-70). Emmanuel Kountakis of Covington recorded a 6-under-par 278 (72-68-70-68) for sixth place. Two players tied for seventh at 5-under-par 279, including Taylor Smith of Covington (74-74-66-65) and David Mackey of Watkinsville (72-70-72-65). Rounding out the overall top 10 on the final leaderboard were a pair of players at 4-under-par 280 - Chris Waters of Atlanta (67-74-71-68) and Dalton Reese of Warrenton (71-68-72-69).
The three former champions entering this year's event were David Denham of Athens, Lee Knox of Augusta and David Noll, Jr., of Dalton. Denham, who won a national championship at the University of Georgia in 2005, earned his state championship title in 2004 at Athens Country Club. This year he tied for 14th at 2-under-par 282 (75-65-72-70). Knox is a two-time champion in 2010 and 2012 at The Landings Club-Deer Creek in Savannah and Ansley Golf Club-Settindown Creek in Roswell, respectively. He finished in a tie for 32nd at 4-over-par 288 (77-66-66-79). Noll won his two titles in 2003 at Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw and 2011 at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta. This year he tied for 17th at 1-under-par 283 (76-70-68-69).
After 36 holes of play, 71 players made the cut at 6-over-par 148 and better. West Lake Country Club played to 6,816 yards and a par of 71.
Entries were open to male amateur golfers who are GSGA members and residents of the state of Georgia. The field of 144 players competed over 72 holes of individual stroke play and the field was cut to the top 70 and ties now after 36 holes were played.
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