Much of that could be attributed to Saturday’s difficult course conditions.
Not only did the golfers cite the fast greens, but many pins were placed near the slopes, making it a challenge to keep the ball below the hole. Other holes were placed at the edge of the greens, and, combined with the rough being cut longer, it made it difficult to play balls away from the fairway.
“When you hit it close to the hole and come away with par more than a handful of times, it’s frustrating,” said LaGrange’s Ridge Purcell, who shot 2-under 69 on Saturday to move into second place. “The way to overcome that is to be level-headed and look at things in different perspective. Par is never a bad score. You have to look at it that way.”
David Noll Jr. of Dalton maintained the lead he’s held throughout the tournament, but saw it shrink to one stroke after a 76 put him at 1-over. He shot 67-71 in the previous two rounds.
Noll is a two-time winner of the Georgia Amateur, winning his first title in the event’s last visit to Pinetree in 2003, and then again in 2011 in Atlanta. If he can finish off another title today, he would join four others who have won the Georgia Amateur at least three times.
David Watts of Chatsworth, who was tied with Kennesaw State’s Kelby Burton going into Saturday’s round, dropped to seventh after a 77. Burton dropped to 13th after a 78.
Purcell is tied for second with Travis Williamson, an Armstrong Atlantic golfer who shot 72 for the second straight day.
Jimmy Beck, one of six current or former Kennesaw State golfers playing on the course adjacent to campus, shot 73 and is in a three-way tie for fourth with at 216, alongside Jeff Knox of Augusta and Zachary Healy of Peachtree Corners.
“I wasn’t terribly happy with how I played,” Beck said, “but I was surprised that the scores were high as they were, and I am glad to still be in it.”
There was one golfer, however, who had no issue with the toughness of the course.
Cody Shafer, an Augusta State golfer, shot a bogey-free 66 to put himself back in contention — four shots behind Noll — despite shooting 80 on Friday. Shafer had three birdies on the front and two on the back.
Noll struggled on the front nine, shooting bogey or worse on five straight holes, including a double bogey on the par-4 No. 3. But he managed to preserve his lead with consecutive birdies on Nos. 8 and 9.
Purcell, who was 20th overall going into Saturday’s round, started on No. 10, and was even going into his final hole of the day with three birdies and three bogeys. He ended his round at the par-5 ninth by pitching in from 30 yards out for eagle.
“I really learned from (Friday’s) round when I got impatient,” Purcell said. “I got close to the hole and would miss them. No matter what happens (today), I’m going to try to be patient all day.”
Beck started on the back nine and it took the first nine holes to get acclimated. He settled for four bogeys and one birdie on the back before playing a bogey-free front with birdie on 7.
“I had to go out there and have fun and not put pressure on myself,” Beck said. “If I go out there and have fun, I’m going to shoot well and play well.”
Woodstock resident Mark Strickland, a longtime Pinetree member, shot 75 and is seven shots back of Noll in a tie for 26th. Though a win may be distant for Strickland, he can guarantee a return invitation to the Georgia Amateur with a top-15 finish.