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Murrell, Spannuth win Four-Ball title; Albany duo finishes tied for 9th

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- You couldn't miss Wes Spannuth and his creamsicle orange shirt, like a splash of bright light buried in the lush greens amid the pines and magnolia's of the Doublegate County Club course.

"It's my lucky shirt,'' he said. "My wife just bought this shirt for me. It still has the crease in it.''

He may never wash it.

Not after Sunday, not after teaming up with Corey Murrell -- and not after destroying the final nine holes to leap-frog to the title of the 39th annual Georgia Four-Ball Championship.

"I'm going to have Corey sign the shirt,'' Spannuth said.

Murrell should only sign the backside of the shirt.

That would be fitting, because that's where Spannuth and Murrell won the three-day event, burning up the backside of a soggy course that had been drenched in an early morning thunderstorm.

They birdied eight of the final nine holes to shoot a 28 on the backside to finish at 63 for the day and win the whole shooting match with a 20-under par performance.

"That's when I started digging the spurs in,'' joked Brunswick native Spannuth of the difference in the back nine. Then Murrell, from Kingsland, added: "We hit our range balls on the front.''

That's the way these guys talk, completing each other's sentences, and completing each other's shots on every hole.

"Our games are perfect for each other,'' Spannuth said.

They didn't have a bogey during their three days at Doublegate with rounds of 65, 68 and 63. They started the day in fourth place, four strokes behind the leaders -- Albany's Craig Taylor and Spencer Davis, who carried a two-shot advantage after Saturday -- and ended it in dramatic fashion when Murrell dropped in a 30-foot putt at No. 18.

"It was our day,'' Murrell said. "When we started the day, we said we need to shoot a 63 to have a chance.''

Davis and Taylor, who birdied eight odd-numbered holes Saturday to take the lead, fell out of the lead and dropped to a tie for ninth after shooting a 74 to finish at 13-under.

"We just didn't play well (Sunday),'' Davis said. "But we had a great time this weekend. You've got some great players in the state of Georgia. We were fortunate to be in the hunt.''

Taylor felt the same way.

"If you would have told us before we teed off on Friday that we would finish in the Top 10, we would have said: 'All right.' We had a great time.''

They did, just not as great a time as the winners.

After making birdie on the second hole of the day, Spannuth and Murrell parred the next seven holes, and were just one-under when they made the turn.

"We just sort of scratched out a bunch of pars," Spannuth said. "We weren't really hitting the ball well at all. We knew that we had to turn it on during the back nine in order to have any chance at making a run at the title."

The only hole they didn't find a bird was No. 14, and then they streaked home with birdies at 15, 16, 17 and 18. Then laughed their way off the final green.

"I couldn't believe what we did (on the back nine),'' Murrell said. "It just seemed like every putt we stood over was makable. What a neat way to win!"

Tee times had to be delayed for an hour while the crew cleaned up the 7,000-yard course, which was hammered by a thunderstorm, but the play was steady and the sun dried things up Sunday afternoon.

"I just want to say thanks to the superintendent of this course, for what they did to make this course playable today,'' Spannuth said. "It would have been cancelled anywhere else.''

The two old friends have been playing together for 15 years, and remember each other from high school when they played for different teams.

"We've played a lot of two-man tournaments,'' Murrell said. "But we've never played in (GSGA-sanctioned) Four-Ball.''

Then Spannuth chipped in: "I'm not going to play any more. I'm one and done.''

It wasn't easy for Spannuth to joke. He lost his job as a branch manager of a bank just two weeks ago, so the victory meant a lot more to him to lift his spirits.

"If you're writing an article about this, tell them I'm looking for a job,'' Spannuth said.

Albany's Blake Clanton and Dwayne Hale finished tied for 19th with a 9-under 207. Valdosta's Nic Daugharty and Tifton's Casey Willis -- who were tied for first with Davis and Taylor at the end of the first round and two strokes behind them after Saturday -- finished second at 17-under after shooting a 67 to finish the three-day event at 199.

Cartersville-duo Chase Jones and Jayce Stepp finished tied for third position at 16-under 200 with Kyle Harper of Hartwell and Greg Kennedy of Duluth. Adam Thomas of Baxley and his partner, Dave Womack of McDonough, finished tied for fifth with Steve and Carter Collins, a father-son tandem who posted three consecutive rounds of 67, the 2006 champions, Doug Hanzel of Savannah and Bob Royak of Alpharetta, and Jack Hall of Sea Island and Savannah's Danny Nelson. Kevin Jordan of Smyrna. Mark Strickland of Woodstock tied Davis and Taylor for ninth.