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Albany Amateur crowns four new champions

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Spencer Davis is talking to The Albany Herald these days, and that's good news for everyone.

Davis joked with The Herald after the first day of the 6th annual Albany Amateur Golf Championship that he was afraid the media attention would jinx him. After all, Davis had paired with Craig Taylor to lead the prestigious Georgia Four-Ball Tournament at Doublegate heading into the final round back in April, and poked fun at the so-called media jinx then.

No jinx this time.

Davis works for a candy company, but there's nothing sweeter than his golf game as he won the men's title Sunday, wrapping up the three-day event at Grand Island Golf Club with a three-day total of 220.

Davis shot a 72 the first day at his home course, Doublegate, came back with a 71 at Stonebridge on Saturday and then cruised home at Grand Island, where he shot a 77 that was good enough to beat James Salter (76-74-74 -- 224) by four strokes. Deerfield-Windsor baseball coach Rod Murray was third (76-74-75 -- 225) and Colin Ho (77-75-78 -- 230) was fourth.

"I'm going to quote Lee Trevino who said: 'I had a big enough lead that I could choke and still win,' " said Davis, who was all smiles after beating the field and just beating the rain Sunday afternoon. "I didn't have a birdie all day, but it was good enough to win.''

Davis had finished in the top five once before in the tournament that features the best amateurs in the area playing three different courses in three days.

"I played steady (Sunday), and just made pars,'' Davis said. "The first two days won the tournament for me. There's a lot of great golfers who have won this tournament, and I'm just proud to have my name listed with theirs.''

No one played better than Kathryn Fowler, who scorched all three courses and won the women's title by 13 strokes. She won by 15 strokes a year ago and defended her title with an impressive performance, firing back-to-back 69s to run away from a tough field with a three-day 209. Kelly Pearce, a former Sherwood star who won the title in 2008, was second (76-69-77 -- 222) and recent Lee County High grad Christian Liggin was third (78-73-75 -- 226).

Fowler just came home after spending a redshirt year at Ole Miss, where her future couldn't be brighter. After sitting out all year, she couldn't wait to get back into a competitive tournament, and there's none better for her than the Albany Amateur Championship.

Fowler, who was a four-time state champ at Southland Academy in Americus, ran off five birdies in a row on the front nine during the first day at Doublegate and finished the day at 71. She fired a 69 at her home course at Stonebridge on Saturday and then came right back with another 69 on Sunday that included birdies on No. 3 and No. 6. She eagled the par five No. 7 when she chipped in from about 30 feet out.

"I kind of put everything together,'' Fowler said. "It was just fun to play well. I felt like my long game was really good (Sunday).''

Fowler won't have much time to celebrate. She left Grand Island and headed for Atlanta, where she will compete in the Greater Atlanta Women's Tournament today. She had played in a tournament in Alabama just prior to coming to Albany.

"It will be 11 days of golf in a row,'' she said. "I'm getting back (into competitions). The (adrenaline) kicked in, but it was manageable. Sometimes you can have too much adrenaline.''

She's a two-time champ, and that's more than manageable.

"I'm definitely coming back to play in this next year,'' she said.

This year's tournament even had a little history as the first father and son champions were crowned. Joe Dorner (76-73-69--218) won the senior division for the first time, beating defending champ Bubba Burt. Dorner's son, Brent, won the men's title the first two years the tournament was played.

"It took me a while for me to win it. My son won it his first time out,'' said Joe Dorner, who had a five-stroke lead on Burt when the day began. They both shot 35s on the front nine, then Dorner fired a 34 on the back nine to finish with a 69.

"He just ran away from me,'' said Burt, the leader after the first round who shot a 75 to finish nine strokes (72-82-75 -- 229) behind Dorner.

Dorner had finished second in the men's division in 2005, and was second behind Burt after the first day of play this year. But Dorner took the lead when he shot a 73 at Stonebridge and Burt struggled with an 82 on Saturday.

"It feels good to win it,'' Dorner said. "I played well, and I never got in trouble.''

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 -- the mid-amateur-- this year. Mike Cooper, who won the men's overall title in 2007, won the new title with a solid three days of golf.

Cooper shot a pair of 70s during the first two days and fired a 72 on Sunday to win by 17 strokes with a 212. James Stroup was second at 229 (81-75-73).

"It was a good tournament,'' said Fred Sharpe of U-Save-It Pharmacy, which sponsored the tournament. "It gives a lot of people a chance they wouldn't have to compete, and it benefits The First Tee. We have some really good golfers in town.''