KENNESAW — Eli Scott was seven strokes behind the leader entering the final round of the Atlanta Open at Pinetree Country Club.

Five birdies later, Scott was the champion of the two-day tournament. He shot a 4-under 68 on Wednesday after shooting even-par 72 in the opening round.

Scott, a rising sophomore at Coastal Georgia, won by one stroke over four others, including first-round leader Takufumi Shimoji.

Scott said his victory ranks as one of his biggest accomplishments in golf.

“It’s definitely an honor to say that I’ve put my name up there with some big names,” Scott said. “I know this is a big tournament, so it definitely means a lot.”

Shimoji, a rising freshman at Kennesaw State, shot a 4-over 76 and lost the four-shot lead that he earned after a first-round 65.

Shimoji finished in a four-way tie for second with Robby Bruns (67), Justin Kim (68) and Matthew Hayes (70) at 3-under 141.

Shimoji’s first-round 65 still marked the best round of the tournament. That round, which included nine birdies and one eagle, surprised even him.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Shimoji said.

Scott was not as surprised with his performance in the second round. He said his style of golf matched up well with Pinetree.

“It’s a very fun golf course,” Scott said. “It benefits me because it’s a longer course and I’m a longer hitter. And I usually putt fast greens well, and these greens were running really quick.”

Scott thought he had a chance to win after completing the 11th hole, in which he lipped out a 20-foot eagle putt and settled for a tap-in birdie.

On the next hole, a tournament official told him he was two strokes off the lead. Scott eventually birdied 16 and knocked it to within 3 feet for another birdie on 17 to capture the lead.

On 18, Scott had a 40-foot putt for birdie from the front of the green.

After parring the 18th, all Scott could do was wait. It would be about an hour until he was officially crowned the winner.

Scott, the fourth amateur to win the Atlanta Open title since 2013, attended several Georgia PGA Junior events growing up. Now, he is the winner one of the organization’s adult tournaments.

“Georgia PGA is really what got me started in golf,” Scott said. “I’ve never had a bad tournament with them.”

Craig Stevens, the 2011 Atlanta Open winner, and Sonny Skinner, the winner of the tournament in 2015 and 2016, both shot 3-under 69s on Tuesday, but they slipped out of the top five Wednesday. Stevens shot 77, and Skinner 74.

Defending champion Spencer Ball shot a second-round 70 to finish at 3-over and tied for 19th.

John Bednarowski is the sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. He can be reached at or on Twitter @jbednarowski


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