MACON — Louis Brown of Newnan and Mark Strickland of Woodstock carded key birdies on the final hole of regulation and the second playoff hole to defeat Jeff Knox of Augusta and Jack Larkin of Atlanta and win the 37th annual Georgia Four-Ball Championship at The Brickyard at Riverside, April 25-27. The two teams tied at 19-under 197 for 54 holes after Knox/Larkin posted a final round 64 and Brown/Strickland came in at 66.

Brown and Knox both birdied the par-5 18th, the first playoff hole. Brown was in a valley just off the green, while Knox found his ball in a greenside bunker. Both stuck their third shots to within two feet for short birdie putts. That sent the playoff to the par-4 17th, where Strickland stuck his approach to 15 feet and sunk the birdie putt for the win.

Strickland also posted a birdie in the final hole of regulation. His second shot just missed the green, but his chip shot landed within eight feet and he made the putt.

Knox and Larkin, who entered the final round in a tie for third, posted the low score of the day at 8-under 64. The duo combined for four birdies over the last four holes, while Knox also posted an eagle on the seventh.

Past champions Doug Hanzel of Savannah and Bob Royak of Alpharetta finished third at 17-under 199, two shots back of the leaders. Second-round leaders Doug Green of Cumming and David Noll Jr. of Dalton carded 73 in the final round to drop into a tie for fourth, along with defending champions Brian Davidson of Baldwin and Scott Pitts of Cornelia, at 14-under 202. Jeff Belk of Marietta and Erik Martin of Alpharetta, who shared the first-round lead with Brown and Strickland, finished in sole possession of sixth place at 203. Martin recorded seven birdies on the back nine en route to a final-round score of 67 for the team.

Another team of past champions, Jack Hall of Sea Island and Danny Nelson of Savannah, placed seventh at 204 with a final-round 66. Coleman Tidwell and John Walker of Macon were the highest local finishers, placing eighth at 205. Four teams tied for ninth at 206 — Taylor Floyd of Macon and Brendan Gillins of Savannah, Eric Blaylock of Rome and Adam Thomas of Baxley, Cason Hammock of Columbus and Bill Roberts of Pine Mountain and Doug Stiles of Athens and Garrick Stiles of Watkinsville.

Matt Oxford of Rocky Face and Tony Patterson of Dalton shot a 76 in the final round to finish at 216 and tied for 34th.

Although this is the first Four-Ball title for either one, both Brown and Strickland have won previous statewide amateur championships. Brown won the 1985 Georgia Amateur Championship before embarking on a professional career. Strickland won the Georgia Mid-Amateur and Atlanta Amateur Match Play Championships in 2006 and received the 2007 Tommy Barnes Award as GSGA’s overall player of the year.

This marked the third straight year the Georgia Four-Ball Championship had been decided in a playoff.

Rain showers, some heavy, pelted the competitors from about 10:00 till 12:30 p.m. Play was suspended for 27 minutes during a particularly heavy shower from 12:21 p.m. to 12:48, to allow for water accumulation in a few areas of the course to recede.

The Brickyard at Riverside played to 7,128 yards and a par 72.

The field of 80 teams was cut to the low 40 and ties after the second round, with the cut line falling at 1-under-par 143 and 46 teams advancing.

Entries were open to two-man teams of male amateur golfers who are GSGA members and who have a maximum handicap differential of no more than six strokes.

Founded in 1916, the Georgia State Golf Association (GSGA) received its official charter on June 24, 1924. Since that date, the GSGA has grown to one of the largest state amateur golf associations in the country, with over 365 member clubs and 85,000 individual members. With a mission to promote and preserve amateur golf in the state of Georgia, GSGA offers a computerized handicapping service, course rating and measuring, and annually conducts a full schedule of statewide competitions for men and women of all age groups. Other services include a summer-long junior sectional program, award-winning Golf Georgia magazine, membership recognition and rewards programs and a charitable foundation administering two college scholarship programs.

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