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Rough day at Georgia Amateur for local golfers

Darton State golf coach Bill Jones III had a long day at the Georgia Amateur Championship, where he had to withdraw after he ran out of golf balls.

Darton State golf coach Bill Jones III had a long day at the Georgia Amateur Championship, where he had to withdraw after he ran out of golf balls.

ROSWELL — Bill Jones III kept hearing the same question over and over.

“People kept asking me, ‘What happened out there? Why did you withdraw?’ ” Jones said after Thursday’s opening round of the Georgia Amateur Championship. “I wish I could have told them I hurt something.”

Instead, Jones — Darton’s head golf coach who finished tied for seventh in last year’s tournament — had to tell people he ran out of golf balls.

It was that kind of day for many Southwest Georgia golfers in the 91st annual tournament.

The state’s top 144 amateurs had to battle through tough conditions on an even tougher course, and the majority of the Southwest Georgia golfers aren’t in position to make today’s cut.

Darton had seven former or current players in the field, including Ridge Purcell, who shot a two-over 74 and is tied for 40th, five shots behind leaders Scott Weeks, Robert Sheats and Lee Knox.

Leesburg native and Georgia Southwestern golfer Nate Gahman also shot a 74, while Albany native Lee Jamison and Darton golfer Austin McNeill each shot 76 and are tied for 65th.

The rest of the local golfers are outside of the Top 70, which is the projected cut line heading into today’s second round.

“It was a beautiful, magnificent course, but it’s as tough as nails,” Jones said about the Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek course. “It’s very long, and they got five inches of rain this week so it’s playing even longer. That’s where the trouble comes.”

The trouble came at No. 18 for Jones — who began his day on the back nine — when he lost his first three tee shots and took a 7-over 11.

He eventually ran out of balls on the 17th hole and had to withdraw from the tournament.

“Had I finished, it was the single worst round of golf I have ever played in my life,” Jones said. “That’s how bad it was.”

Darton golfer Robert Robertson also ran out of golf balls and had to withdraw with just a few holes left in his round.

The rest of Darton’s golfers could creep back into the Top 70 with a low round today, including freshman Von Stripling (79), freshman Tyler Vaughn (80) and sophomore Chase Jones (82).

It’s validation for out program (that seven Darton golfers qualified for the tournament),” Jones said. “Hopefully a few of them will play well (today) so I can go cheer them on during the weekend.”

Albany natives Craig Taylor (78) and Collin Ho (79) and GSW’s JP Griffin (77) also played their opening rounds Thursday.