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Darton's Jones III surges to lead at Georgia Amateur Championship

Bill Jones III

Bill Jones III

ATLANTA -- He may have just succeeded Dale Dover as coach of the Darton College golf team, but Bill Jones III is still getting advice from his mentor and former coach.

Before Jones headed to Atlanta for the Georgia Amateur Golf Championship, he received a few lessons from Dover about his posture and alignment.

"For the most part those are the things that I have messed up in my past," Jones said. "I think he knew I was playing good golf this summer and all I needed was a little tweak before I headed up here."

Good golf? How about (ITALICS) great golf.

Jones shot a 68 in Friday's second round of the Georgia Amateur Championship and currently has a one-shot lead over three players going into the weekend of the top amateur tournament in the state.

Past champion David Noll Jr. of Dalton, Doug Hanzel of Savannah and Georgia Tech golfer Anders Albertson of Woodstock all trail Jones' 36-hole total of 137 by one stroke.

Playing at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, Jones had a quiet front nine with eight straight pars before a birdie on No. 9. On the back he posted three bogeys and four birdies, including birdies on three of the last four holes.

"On the front nine I hit a lot of greens, some quality shots, but just didn't have any really close birdie putts," Jones said. "On the back nine I struggled at times, had a couple three-putts. The last few holes I had three-four makeable birdie putts and was lucky enough to make a few of them."

It's Jones' short game -- and the fact that he has only missed five greens in regulation in his first 36 holes -- that has propelled him atop the leaderboard.

"I'm just sticking to my game plan," he said. "I knew this golf course wasn't very long. The greens are really fast, and that's why the scores are high. My game plan has been to put it in play and hit as many greens as I can."

Jones, who was officially named Darton's golf coach June 14, said the pressure of holding the 36-hole lead isn't getting to him. In fact, he said he is looking at his lead as an opportunity to make a good impression on possible recruits.

"I know there are a lot of high school kids who are playing in this tournament, and a lot of them I knew about already and some of them I didn't," said Jones, who finished 11th in 2009 and 15th in 2006 in the annual tournament. "Hopefully this will get them interested in Darton."

Jones, who tees off at 10 a.m. today with Albertson and Hanzel, isn't the only Darton golfer making noise in the tournament. Ridge Purcell is two-over and tied for 10th, and Taylor Welborn is six-over and tied for 35th. Spenser Ferrell, a rising sophomore for the Cavs, didn't make the cut after finishing the first two rounds 18-over.

Former Lee County star and Georgia Southwestern State's No. 1 player Nate Gahman shot a second-round 72 and is five-over and tied for 27th going into the weekend.

First-round leader and defending champion Lee Knox of Augusta struggled a bit on Friday, shooting 75 with six bogeys and a double-bogey. He has dropped to a tie for 10th with four other players at 2-over-142.

Harold Wyatt of Atlanta scored a hole-in-one on the 176-yard 14th hole, using an 8-iron. Wyatt started on the back nine, turning at 5-under 30 and ending the day as one of three players with a field-low, 3-under-par 67. Noll and Strickland carded the other two 67s, which matched Knox's first-round score as a tournament low thus far.