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Americus' Fowler rallies, wins ATL Amateur

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALPHARETTA -- Grab a book and go bass fishing.

That's how Kathryn Fowler plans to celebrate her whirlwind 11 days of golf that saw her break out of a year with no competition to scorch her way through three tournaments.

But you couldn't tell last week when Fowler won the Albany Amateur Championship, and you sure couldn't tell Wednesday when Fowler pulled off one of the sweetest comebacks of her career by rallying from five strokes down with nine holes to play to win the Greater Atlanta Women's Amateur Championship.

Despite the deficit -- and the fact she never led once during the three-day tournament until the very end -- Fowler never looked back, never looked ahead, but just kept the faith and birdied three of the final six holes to storm back and capture arguably the most prestigious title of her young amateur career.

"It was really a rough front nine,'' said Fowler, who shot a 42 on the front nine, including a triple bogey on the fifth hole. "But I didn't (get down about it). I just tried not to worry about the score. If you start worrying about numbers, that's not conducive to playing good golf. Then you are worried and you try to make things happen, and you can't make things happen. You can't control everything, and if you try, you put too much pressure on each shot.''

Fowler started to steadily climb back with a 34 on the back nine to finish the day at 76. She took the lead with a birdie at 17 to move past Sarah Butts of Carrollton, and won the 54-hole three-day tournament with a 9-over 225. Butts, who started the day with a two-stroke lead, ended the day with a 79 and a 226 for the tournament.

Fowler was steady throughout the three days at the Manor Golf and Country Club, where the event was held for the last time. It's moving to a match-play format next year.

"It's the first state amateur tournament I've ever won, and this is the last year for the tournament, so I'm the last one to win it, and that's pretty neat,'' Fowler said. "Winning two in a row is pretty nice. It's been so much fun.''

Her secret?

"I really tried to play shot by shot and not worry about the future or worry about the past,'' she said. "If I got caught up in all that, I would be trying to make shots I couldn't make. I just kept playing and stayed in the moment and kept focused. It's really hard to do, but I'm getting better at doing it.''

Fowler, who won four GISA state high school titles at Southland Academy in her hometown of Americus, didn't play any competitive golf all year. She redshirted as a freshman at Ole Miss, but feels that year in Oxford changed her game.

"It was a year of real intense practice,'' she said. "And for the first time in my life I practiced year-round with teammates, and the practices were structured. It really made a difference in my game.''

No one could tell, because she wasn't playing in college tournaments. Then 11 days ago she entered the Southern Women's Amateur in Chattanooga, and made it to the semifinal round of the consolation bracket. She left Tennessee headed for Albany feeling a lot better about her game. She made five birdies on the front nine the next day and fired a 72, 69 and 69 to win the three-day Albany Amateur by 12 strokes.

She bolted from Albany and played the first day of the Atlanta Amateur "blind" without a practice round. She shot a 76, then came back with a 73 to close to within two strokes of Butts (77-70-79) before dropping back and closing with a dramatic finish.

"This tournament just shows how much things can change,'' Fowler said. "Now I'm going to get a break and just chill a little bit. It's kind of been intense.''

Fowler then let out a loud laugh before adding: "I'm going bass fishing. That's what I like to do. There's a lake right at (my) house, and I like to read. I just downloaded a new book -- "The Passage." It's supposed to be the book of the summer, so I'll fish and read.''

And practice, too. She plans on entering her third tournament, the GSGA Top 60, which begins June 29 in Augusta.

"I guess I really was excited about getting back to competition again,'' she said. "It's been a great week and a half.''