Keppler, a rising senior at Kennesaw Mountain, placed sixth with a three-round total of 3-under 213 at the Georgia Junior Championship at Brunswick Country Club. Barnett, a rising junior at Whitefield Academy, was seventh after a 16-over 232 in the Georgia Girls’ Championship at The Standard Club in Johns Creek.
Keppler entered Wednesday’s final round atop the leaderboard, with a two-stroke lead after shooting 69-67 over the first two days of competition. He teed off from the first hole as part of the final pairings Wednesday and went 1-under at the turn.
Keppler shot even-par over Nos. 10 and 11 in his first two rounds, but he ran into trouble Wednesday with a double bogey and bogey.
Back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13 were offset by a double-bogey at 14. He birdied 16, but he went on to cap his round with a triple bogey on 18.
“I played two really good rounds and 45 good holes, but didn’t finish the way I wanted to,” Keppler said. “I played a good front nine (Wednesday), but on 10, I hit my tee shot out of bounds and lost my confidence. I slowly fell apart from there. I beat myself and got in my own way.”
Duluth’s Charles Huntzinger, who was 3-under entering Wednesday, finished at 10-under 206 to win the tournament.
Although Keppler lost his lead, he didn’t lose his opportunity to play in the Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match. As a top-eight finisher, he will represent Georgia at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek course July 25-26 in Roswell.
“I can’t wait to represent Georgia in that event,” Keppler said. “It’s a good consolation prize for not winning (Wednesday). It will be my first time competing in it, and I know it’s two rounds of match play. I haven’t done match play before, so I’ll have to get ready.”
Several other local golfers made the cut, including Harrison’s Luke Schniederjans (218), who tied for 19th, Kell’s Ryan Hines (228), who tied for 41st and Walton’s Andrew Yowell (229) who tied for 44th.
Kennesaw natives Brock Nixon and Mitchell Rostowsky also finished among the top 50, while Mount Paran Christian’s Mack Alford, Walker’s Barrett Kulik and Harrison’s Matt McMahon made the cut.
Barnett shot rounds of 76-77-79 to finish at 16-over 232 in the girls tournament. Milton’s Payton Schanen won the championship with an even-par 216.
“It was a really challenging course,” Barnett said. “I think I played the best I could, but I could have done better. I saw some strokes I could have done better with, but I’m pretty happy with the way I played.”
The tournament was set up to have similarly handicapped golfers participating in the same flight each round. Barnett was the medalist for her flight, and scored better than six golfers with lower handicaps from the championship flight.
“There was some hard competition, but it feels good to win against the equal competition in my flight,” Barnett said.
Other local golfers included Walton’s Abbey Williams (236), who tied for 12th, and Pope’s Lizzie Reedy (246), who was 24th. Walton’s Autumn Gabe tied for 36th, and Pope’s Alexis Brindley was 40th.