At left, South Korean native Andy Shim, who moved to the U.S. three years ago and now lives in Duluth, smiles as he hoists the trophy Wednesday for winning the Georgia Junior Championship at Doublegate Country Club. Shim led wire-to-wire and won the prestigious event by five shots. At right is GSGA rules official Fred Cox. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Andy Shim tentatively lifted his Georgia Junior Championship trophy Wednesday afternoon at Doublegate Country Club, almost afraid to show too much emotion.
The Duluth resident and South Korean native’s victory speech was less than 10 words long after running away with the three-round tournament and winning by five strokes, and his non-assuming presence went hand-in-hand with his humble smile.
His confidence, however, was through the roof.
“I thought about it even before I played the first round, and I thought I could win this,” said Shim, a 17-year-old who moved from South Korea three years ago. “This is the biggest tournament I have won, and it feels pretty good. There were a lot of really good players out here, so it was tough. It just feels really awesome.”
Shim snagged the opening-day lead with a 66 and never looked back, finishing the tournament with a 2-under 70 and beating last year’s champion, Greyson Sigg, by five shots. Sigg, a 17-year-old from Augusta, shot a 4-under 68 on Wednesday for the low round of the day, but it wasn’t enough to catch Shim, who finished with an 11-under 205.
“It’s hard to come back from that far down,” said Sigg, who was seven shots back entering the final round. “You just have to go out there and try to shoot 66 or go as low as you can. It just depends on what (Shim) does. You never know.”
Shim, Sigg and the rest of the Top 8 qualified to compete in the Georgia-South Carolina Challenge Match in July, while Shim also earns an exemption into the prestigious Georgia Amateur Championship on July 12-15.
Shim had two eagles, five birdies, one bogey and one double-bogey Monday to take a four-shot lead into the second round. He then continued his strong play Tuesday with five birdies and two bogeys, and finished the tournament Wednesday with five birdies and three bogeys.
“I was hitting a lot of greens,” Shim said. “I didn’t miss a lot of fairways, and my irons were sticking to within 10 feet. I was bound to make some of (the birdie putts).”
Jacob Joiner, a 16-year-old home-schooler from Albany, started the final round tied for 24th place and 14 shots behind Shim, but Joiner was one of eight players to shoot under par Wednesday, vaulting himself into the Top 10 with a 2-under 70. That earned him a spot as one of three alternates for the Georgia-South Carolina Challenge Match.
“I knew I had to really post a good score,” said Joiner, who had five birdies and three bogeys during his final round that included a stretch on the front nine of four birdies in six holes. “I got an alternate position, and a lot of years the alternates get to go because (the Georgia-South Carolina Challenge Match) conflicts with the U.S. Junior.”
After 54 holes, Joiner was tied with Kennesaw’s Tyler Young for the No. 2 alternate spot, and the duo played a sudden-death playoff to decide who would get the higher position on the list of alternates.
Joiner’s drive on the opening playoff hole left him in the left rough behind a tree, but he pitched over it with an 8-iron and landed his ball 10 feet away from the pin, setting up a birdie putt that he snaked in.
“It wasn’t an easy putt,” Joiner said. “It was downhill, hit the right edge and lipped in. I was just praying that it went in. I had missed a lot of those the last couple of days.”
Joiner’s 15-year-old younger brother, Tyler — who was tied with Jacob at 24th overall entering the final round — shot a 2-over 74 on Wednesday to finish tied for 14th with a 6-over 222, while Moultrie’s Andrew Eunice shot a 79 to finish tied for 47th.
The other golfers finishing in the Top 8 and securing a roster spot for the Georgia-South Carolina Challenge Match were Martinez’s Emmanuel Kountakis, Marietta’s Adam Wright, Alpharett’s Brandon Lee, Suwanee’s Harry Lambert, Cumming’s Christopher Guglielmo and Griffin’s Tye Waller.