Scott Davenport and Jeff Belk were among 20 who advanced to the July 12-15 state tournament at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek course, along the Cherokee-Fulton county line in Roswell.
Davenport birdied two of final last three holes for a 2-under 70 along the 6,830-yard Woodmont layout and will return to the Georgia Amateur after failing to qualify last year.
“I made some putts when I really needed to,” Davenport said. “There’s just some holes you have to get by out here, and I got by them, and that’s what happened.”
Belk made six birdies as part of a roller-coaster round to shoot even-par 72, but he had to par the second hole of an eight-man playoff to secure his spot.
Belk qualified for a 16th-straight Georgia Amateur by atoning for an early mistake. After finding a hazard on the way to a double bogey on the 195-yard par-3 second hole during his round, he returned to the same hole in the playoff, hit the center of the green with his tee shot and two-putted for the clinching par.
The last time the Georgia Amateur was played at Settindown Creek, in 2007, Belk led after three rounds but struggled on the back nine on Sunday and ended up tied for fifth with a final-round 77.
That year, he slipped into the field as an alternate. Now, his place in the 144-player field is certain.
“I want to get back there and see if I can redeem myself a little bit better,” Belk said.
Former Milton golfer Zack Jaworski topped the qualifier with seven birdies and a 5-under 67.
Jaworski, who is heading to Vanderbilt to play golf this fall, had worked hard to straighten out his irons in the immediate lead-up to the qualifier. On Thursday, it was his putter that propelled him to the day’s low round down the stretch, after a bogey-bogey start.
“I made a few good putts coming in — made about a 30-footer for birdie on No. 13 — and that kind of started it,” Jaworski said. “I missed a few, but I definitely caught fire with the putter on the back nine.”
Former Mercer golfer Ryan Blackburn started eagle-birdie and hit 16 greens in regulation to finish one shot back of Jaworski and in a tie for second with Augusta’s Brian Carter, who just completed his sophomore season at Georgia.
The lone local qualifier on the Cherokee County course was David Sullivan, who graduated from Etowah in 2011 and now plays at Georgia College and State University. Sullivan’s 2-under 70, highlighted by a pivotal hole-out from a bunker on the par-3 11th, earned him his second trip to the Georgia Amateur in as many years.
“I was 1-over, and it got me back to even, and, when you’re even, you know, if you have a couple of holes left, you’re going to stay even because you’re hitting it well,” Sullivan said.
Jerry Witt of Acworth will be the second alternate after a double-bogey 5 on the second playoff hole left him just short of the automatic qualifiers.