Mason Williams stays ahead at Southern Amateur



Mason Williams (photo Kevin Price)

Mason Williams will sleep ahead for a second straight night as he retained the top spot in the standings after Friday’s third round of the Southern Amateur Championship at Sea Island Golf Club’s Plantation course located on St. Simons Island off Georgia . . The Georgia Southern University golfer shot a 3-under 68 to reach 17 under for the tournament, giving him a three-shot cushion on North Carolina player David Ford heading into Saturday’s final round.

Ford shot 1-under 70 Friday on the par-71 course and sits 14-under the first 54 holes of this long-running championship.

Williams looked comfortable going home with the lead once more.

“It was a good night’s sleep last night, and I hope it’s going to be another good night too,” the Bridgeport native, W.Va, said.

The third round was the first this week that was not interrupted by a weather delay. The first two laps were suspended by the afternoon thunderstorms that are common in the South during the hot and humid summer months.

The forecast for Friday called for showers in the early afternoon. Early forecasts for Saturday show a possible thunderstorm as early as 11 a.m. with showers possible in the early afternoon, but the chances diminish after 2 p.m.

The final round is scheduled for a 7.30am start with the final group leaving at 9.20am. Players will start from the first and 10th tees.

The latest pairing will feature leader Williams with Ford and Caleb Surratt moving into a tie for third at 10 under with a 7 under 64 in round three. Surratt, who won the Terra Cotta Invitational for a second straight time in May and is the defending Junior West champion, is currently the points leader in the Elite Amateur Golf series.

Surratt, who heads to the University of Tennessee, finished fourth in the Sunnehanna Amateur, third in the Northeast Amateur and ninth in the North and South Amateur already this summer. These are the first three tournaments in the Elite Series.

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

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

Lewis held the lead after the inning when he posted a 7-under 64. He shot 68 in the final 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 appearance in the series.

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


David Ford

He opened the tournament on Wednesday with a 65 that quickly put him in contention as he was just one shot off the lead after the round. He took the lead on Friday with his 8-under 63 round which is the second-best single-round score of the week.

Williams handed bogey-free scorecards the first two days, but finally hit his first bogey of the week on Friday at the par-5 fourth hole. He had already birdied the second, though.

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

“I got off to a tough start,” Williams said. “It was just kind of a squirrel off the tee, I never really put it on the line to give me a good look at the birdie. The swing wasn’t really there like it was the first two days, but it wasn’t anything crazy. I finished well, that’s good.”

Ford, a Georgia native from Peachtree Corners, entered the fray with a hot finish in his second round when he birdied five on his back nine and also an eagle on the par-5 14th for a 29 on the backstroke and a score of 62 for the round which is the best count of the week so far.

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

Williams birdied after finding a fairway bunker off the tee, but Ford took a bogey after his approach found the water hazard surrounding the green, resulting in a two-shot swing to the arrived when he ended up signing for a 70.

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

“I’ve been waiting for two years to play well,” he said, although he knows that just a few weeks ago it took the eventual champion 21 holes to eliminate him in the quarter. finals 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 a while, but the first two rounds here I played really, really solid.

Tournament notebook

Ford’s frustration: David Ford is still alive and well for the Southern amateur title heading into Saturday’s final round.

But Ford left the course a little frustrated on Friday afternoon after taking the aforementioned bogey on the par-5 hole when his second shot landed in the water around the green.

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

He ended up having to drop, then hit his fourth shot to the green and putt twice for bogey.

Tournament leader Mason Williams finished with a birdie and his lead over Ford went from one stroke to three strokes.

Ford asked a rules official as he left the green to decide whether golfers should play the ball rather than enforce the lift, clean and set rule.

The Plantation course was softened by rains all week which allowed the balls to pick up mud as they land on the fairways or other closely mowed areas.

Ford expressed his frustrations in an interview after the round.

“I’ve been talking about it all week with guys,” he said, “and it makes no sense why we’re not playing it. I’ve had a mud ball on 14 holes every day , except for par-3.

“18, it really hurt me because I landed a really good shot there. It was a really good number, and it went straight left. I’m not going to lay down at from 237 (meters) It’s frustrating, but that’s how it goes some days.

They are all lined up: Four of the players who entered the week in the top 10 in the points standings in the inaugural Elite Amateur Golf Series are in the top 15 in the standings at Sea Island heading into Saturday’s closing round.

Caleb Surratt and Bryce Lewis, who are first and second respectively in the points standings after the first four tournaments in the series, are tied for third on Saturday. Meanwhile, Jiri Zuska is one of three players tied for fifth heading into the final round. Zuska, who plays in Louisville, entered the week in eighth place in the Elite Series standings.

Additionally, Australian Karl Villips, who is currently third in the points race, sits 13th here heading into Saturday’s round.

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

Use this one: Tournament leader Williams warmed up on the greens at the finish on Friday, making birdie putts on the par-3 16th and par-5 18th that were long and also downhill to the hole.

He said this about the one he drained at the closing hole after being forced to lie well short of the green on his second shot after his tee shot which landed in a fairway bunker.

“I really wanted to do that one,” Williams said. “It was a good ending. It will make dinner a little better.

Behind the name: The Plantation course gets its name from the fact that it is built on a former plantation called Retreat Plantation.

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

Players may have noticed a large plaque as they made their way to the first tee this week, explaining the history of the property.

It reads: ‘The Sea Island Golf Club is situated on the grounds of Retreat Plantation, a Sea Island cotton plantation from the pre-war days. This retirement area, partly a colonial grant to James Spalding Esq., was purchased in 1804 by Major William Page of South Carolina whose only daughter, Anna, married the Hon. Thomas Butler King. Visitors will be interested in the ruins of the slave dwelling house and hospital as well as the slave cemetery. The tabby barn, once a corn warehouse, served as the clubhouse of the Sea Island Golf Club from 1928 to 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 at the Seaside and Plantation courses. . It is located to the left of the first fairway. Golfers also cross it when leaving the ninth hole and heading towards the back of the Plantation course.

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

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