Jones III slips in amateur tournament

Photo by Mike Phillips

Photo by Mike Phillips

ATLANTA -- Bill Jones III fell out of the lead in the Georgia Amateur Championship on Saturday, but he's ready to climb right back on top.

"I still feel pretty good about it. This is a course where you can make up shots,'' said Jones, who shot a 5-over, 75 on Saturday and now sits tied for fifth at 2-over for the tournament, four shots behind the leader, David Noll Jr. of Dalton, who finished the third round at even-par 70.

Noll has a 54-hole total of 2-under-par 208 (71-67-70) and a one stroke advantage over Anders Albertson of Woodstock (1-under-par 201).

Doug Hanzel of Savannah is tied for third with the defending champion Lee Knox at 1-over-par 211. Jones is tied with Franco Castro of Savannah, who plays golf at LSU, and 2011 Georgia Mid-Am Champion Mark Strickland of Woodstock at 212.

Noll, the four-time reigning GSGA Player of the Year, turned in two birdies and two bogeys on Saturday's round at Cherokee Town & Country Club in Atlanta, and will look to capture his second amateur championship of his career since winning the annual event in 2003.

But Jones said there's a lot of golf to be played in today's final round.

"I would feel better if I was one or two shots back, but it's not hard to make up ground on this course,'' Jones said. "If (Nole) shoots 3-over I believe I can catch him. All the pressure is on him. If he lets anything slip there are four or five of us ready to jump in there and take his spot.''

Jones led after the first two rounds, but his short game betrayed him on Saturday.

"It was a tough day,'' said Jones, who was recently named the golf coach at Darton College. "I actually hit the ball pretty similar to what I did the first two days. But I didn't make any putts and didn't make any chip shots when I missed the green.

"When I missed the green I took a bogey,'' he said. "I missed six greens and was 7-over (on those holes). Other than that I had a pretty good day. I was 5-over for the day.''

Former Darton golfers Ridge Purcell and Taylor Welborn also made it to the weekend of the four-day tournament.

Purcell shot a 72 on Saturday to fall to 4-over, which puts him tied for 10th with four other golfers. After opening the tournament with a pair of 73s, Welborn slipped up on Day 3, shooting a 79 and falling to 64th place at 15-over.

Lee County grad Nate Gahman also had his worst day of the tournament, shooting a 76 to fall to 11-over. Gahman, the No. 1 golfer at Georgia Southwestern State, is tied for 37th.