Gann makes a move to get into the hunt

sports@macon.comJuly 11, 2014 

Leading up to the Georgia Amateur Championship this week at Idle Hour Club, Bonaire’s Stan Gann Jr. left little doubt about what he thought his chances were to contend, stating he expected to be somewhere near the top of the leaderboard.

After a shaky start Thursday, Gann has picked up his game, going 5 under in his past 29 holes, including a 3-under-par 67 on Friday to move into a tie for second. Gann is two shots behind leader Kelby Burton heading into the third round Saturday.

“I felt great (Friday) and was able to keep the ball in the fairways and on the greens,” Gann said. “When you are putting for birdie all day long, you are bound to make a few of them. It’s good to get in the mix for the tournament, and once I was able to get the juices flowing, I seemed to be OK.

“This tournament has a great group of players, and I am glad to be near the top. But this is a four-day tournament, and the older guys like me aren’t used to playing four rounds in four days like the younger guys are, but I still feel like I am in great shape.”

Local focus

With the cut line at 8 over, several other local golfers made it to the weekend. Eatonton product and Mercer standout Trey Rule followed his first-round 65 with a 74 and stands at 1 under, while Idle Hour member John Walker IV recovered from a first-round 73 to shoot 68 on Friday. Shawn Hodge also made the cut despite a 75 on Friday, while Macon’s Sandy Burgess is at 8 over after a second-round 75.

Championship experience

Two-time Georgia Amateur winner David Noll Jr. was fairly sure that he had missed the cut for the first time in 18 years in the tournament when he finished his round early in the afternoon with a 76, to go along with a first-round 72.

“It’s just crazy because I don’t feel like I played that bad, but it’s very disappointing because I have worked extremely hard and put in a lot of effort to get ready for this tournament,” said Noll, who has never finished worse than sixth in the tournament. “I think I have three-putted six times in the two days, and that’s just not going to get it done in a tournament like this. I would love to sneak into the weekend, because I feel like a 2 or 3 under is possible on Saturday and then who knows on Sunday. It would be great to make the cut, but it’s not looking good right now.”

Noll got his wish for the weekend as his 8 over par earned him two more rounds.

Familiar name

Robert Mize, the son of former Masters winner Larry Mize, is also having a solid weekend, carding a second-round 72 after shooting a 69 on Friday to put him in a tie for 11th.

“I have struggled with my putter a little bit, but I am very pleased with my ball-striking,” said Mize, who plays golf at Columbus State.

When asked if it puts more pressure on him being the son of a professional golfer, Mize had a quick answer.

“I am pretty much used to it because I have dealt with it my entire life,” said Mize, whose 72 included double-bogeys on Nos. 11 and 17. “When I am playing well, it feels great for everyone to know who I am, but it really is a little difficult when I am struggling.”

Young star

Rome’s Justin Kim was the youngest player in the tournament at 15, and he made a run Friday to make the cut. After starting on the back and struggling, Kim had consecutive birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 to get below the cut line.

But he but bogeyed No. 5 and had a double-bogey on No. 6 to just miss the cut at 10 over.

“It was very frustrating because I came here wanting to make the cut, but I will learn from it,” said Kim, who will now head to Cleveland, Tennessee, on Sunday to play in a qualifier for the U.S. Amateur. “I felt like the course was set up to score well, but I just wasn’t consistent enough the last two days.”

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