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Davis, Fowler, Burt, Cooper early Albany Amateur leaders

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Spencer Davis is at it again.

Davis, who paired with Craig Taylor to lead the prestigious Georgia Four-Ball Tournament at Doublegate heading into the final round back in April, has the early lead in the Albany Amateur Championships.

Davis fired a 72 Friday at Doublegate, then joked with The Herald that he didn't want to talk about his lead for fear of a jinx like before. Finally, he admitted that he'd rather be at the top and talking than chasing the leader.

"I'd rather be where I am,'' said Davis, who had three birdies and three bogeys to finish the day at even par, four strokes ahead of Jon Salter and five strokes ahead of Colin Ho. "I played solid and kept it in front of me."

Davis then added with a laugh: "It's playing mighty long for an old man. The other players are mighty young. It's going to be a good tournament.''

One of the young and talented golfers who was a favorite to contend never fired a shot. Darton's Roy Steinberg, the Region XVII low medalist for the Cavs a month ago, missed his tee time and was disqualified.

The three-day event is played on three courses, and moves to Stonebridge today and finishes up at Grand Island on Sunday.

"I like that,'' Davis said. "We've got a lot of good golf courses in Albany, and this way no one has the home course advantage.''

Doublegate is Davis' home course, so he'll have to go on the road the next two days to win the title.

Stonebridge is the home course for Kathryn Fowler, the defending women's champ who took the first-round lead, firing a 71. Fowler, who redshirted this year at Ole Miss, said she was looking forward to playing in a competitive tournament after sitting out this season.

It showed. She had five birdies in a row on the front nine as she birdied the fifth through ninth holes.

"I've never had five birdies in a row,'' Fowler said. "It started on the fifth hole when I hit my drive in the trees. My second shot went through two trees and landed 10 feet from the cup, so it started out lucky. I just got in a zone.''

Fowler, who lives in Americus, has a five-stroke lead on former champ Kelly Pearce, who shot a 76, and seven strokes on recent Lee County High grad Christian Liggin, who may have an advantage Sunday when the tournament moves to her home course at Grand Island. Former champ Helen Kirbo is one shot behind Liggin at 79.

"It was a lot of fun playing with Kelly and Christian,'' Fowler said. "They were kidding me and making fun of me during the birdie streak. They kept saying I was going to have an eagle to break the streak.''

Fowler didn't get her eagle, but she came close to a hole-in-one on No. 16, and then tapped in for her seventh birdie of the day. She also birdied No. 15.

"It was a fun day,'' she said.

The tournament, which began in 2004 and benefits The First Tee, a child oriented organization with the goal of helping the youth of Albany, added a division this year and Mike Cooper, who won the men's title in 2007, is the early leader in the new men's mid-am. Cooper shot a 70 and is 10 strokes ahead of Dan Hill, whose 80 put him in second place.

Bubba Burt won the senior's title last year despite shooting an 84 on the opening day, which included a 10 on the par 5 13th hole -- a hole Burt can see from his house across from Doublegate.

Not on Friday. Burt birdied 13 and finished the day at 72, four strokes ahead of Joe Dornier and Lenny Delamar.

"If he shot a 10 on that hole last year and won it, what's he going to do this year after shooting a four on the hole?'' joked Dornier.

Burt, who had five birdies and five bogeys, likes to talk about how inconsistent he is on the course, saying he never knows who will show up.

"Looks like the good Burt showed up (Friday),'' he said, joking in the third person. "Burt shot a 72, which is good for Burt.''