ROSWELL -- Jonathan Keppler became the first Cobb County resident in 38 years to win the Georgia Amateur on Sunday, shooting a final round 73 to finish at 7-under-par for a three-shot victory at Ansley Golf Club-Settingdown Creek.

Keppler's final round of 1-over par was good enough to hold off second-place finisher Ryan Schaetzel of Atlanta. Schaetzel's 2-under 70 was enough to catch and pass Georgia Southern golfer Ben Carr. Carr began the day two shots behind Keppler, but a 76 forced him to settle for third.

“To be honest with you, I’m speechless right now,” Keppler said. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but it feels pretty good. This is special. I haven’t had the best amateur career but it’s starting to come along nicely and this was a nice victory.”

The Florida State graduate said he struggled recently, said he has been seeing sports psychologist Bhrett McCabe to help him better recognize his talent and he has started working with a new swing coach, Chan Reeves.

Keppler’s most recent success included winning the Dixie Amateur at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last December and qualifying for the U.S. Open Sectional in May on his home course at Marietta Country Club. At Florida State, he saw limited playing time, competing in only three tournaments for the Seminoles last season.

At the Georgia Amateur, the former Kennesaw Mountain High School standout shot 68 in the opening round Thursday and followed up with a 66 Friday to move to 10-under par atop the leaderboard. A 74 on Saturday left him with a 2-stroke lead.

Now, he is the first champion from Marietta and Cobb County to hoist the Amateur trophy since Bill Bergin won the event in 1981.

That made his father Stephen Keppler, the head professional at Marietta Country Club, proud.

“He’s worked very hard. This is well deserved,” Stephen Keppler said. “He’s putting in the hours, putting in the time, and it’s paying off.”

Keppler started the day at 8-under par, two shots clear of Carr. Carr cut the lead to one shot with a birdie on No. 5, but Keppler answered with birdies at Nos. 6 and another on No. 8, when he holed a 35-foot putt, to push his lead to three, and reach 10-under par. 

His most important hole of the day may have come at No. 7, the 137-yard par 3, when he saved par after his tee shot sailed over the green and into the thick primary rough.

After a bogey on the ninth, Keppler played the back nine in 2-over par, but Carr started his final nine with three straight bogeys to take himself out of contention.

“I definitely did not hit it well on the back nine,” Keppler said. “I felt the nerves starting to sink in and I scraped it around. My two-putt on 12 was big. My two-putt on 13 was big. My up and down on 14 was big. The putter and short game saved me on the back nine.”

Schaetzel made his charge past Carr into second place by making birdies on his last four holes. 

Keppler now joins some elite company as champions of the Georgia Amateur, including 13-time major champion Bobby Jones, Charlie Yates, 1973 Masters champion Tommy Aaron, Champions Tour winner Allen Doyle, and current PGA Tour members Harris English and Russell Henley.

Mercer's Spencer Ball and Georgia's Nicholas Cassidy were the only other players in the field to finish the tournament under par. They tied for fourth at 1-under par. 

Marietta's Chris Waters finished with a 71 on Sunday to tie for 11th.

Defending champion Brett Barron struggled to a final-round 77 to finish at 7 over and in a tie for 17th. Two-time champion David Noll also shot 77 to finish tied for 28th at 10-over, one shot ahead of 2016 winner Colin Bowles.

98th Georgia Amateur Championship

Final Round

Jonathan Keppler -7 68 66 74 73 281

Timothy Schaetzel -4 68 73 73 70 284

Ben Carr -2 68 69 73 76 286

Spencer Ball -1 67 73 72 75 287

Nicolas Cassidy -1 69 74 70 74 287

Chip Thompson E 71 76 71 70 288

Taylor Smith +1 74 73 71 71 289

Keith Guest +2 70 73 74 73 290

Will Kahlstorf +2 72 71 75 72 290

Andy Mao +3 66 75 73 77 291

Chris Waters +4 74 71 76 71 292

Tye Waller +4 70 74 72 76 292

William Hanna +4 72 73 72 75 292

Jake Maples +5 74 71 73 75 293

Jack Larkin Sr. +6 70 70 79 75 294

Hogan Ingram +6 68 73 75 78 294

Alex Ross +7 69 78 74 74 295

Brett Barron +7 74 72 72 77 295

David James +7 75 71 75 74 295

Bob Royak +7 71 76 73 75 295

David Denham +8 72 68 80 76 296

Jackson Buchanan +8 69 71 80 76 296


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