First round leaders usually have a big advantage in 36-hole weekend tournaments in the Upstate.
One or two golfers post low first rounds and then make the rest of the field chase them down.
At the 7th annual Upper State Amateur the first round leaders didn’t have much breathing room.
Golfers as many as four shots back had a real opportunity to win the championship.
Austin Duncan shot a respectable opening round 3-under par 69.
It meant he started three groups behind the leaders with 13 golfers between him and the top spot.
When the North Greenville University golfer shot a final round 4-under par 68 and posted his score he wasn’t able to celebrate a win, instead he just got to hang around the scoreboard and wait.
“I really didn’t have anything to do except wait,” said Duncan. “I did all I could and I knew there were a lot of good players still on the course,” he said.
Duncan kept his tee shots in the fairway for most of the round and his approach shots left him with relatively easy birdie chances on the final 5-holes.
“I was focusing on my wedges and was hitting the ball in tight. I had birdies on 15, 16, and 17 and none of them were outside of 10 feet,” he said.
His two day total of 137 topped the best score on the board by two-shots.
If not for an unfortunate penalty Presbyterian golfer Jimmy McCollum might have been the one waiting to see if anyone could match or better his score.
McCollum suffered a two-shot penalty on the 11th hole for playing the wrong golf ball. The penalty set the Blue Hose sophomore back, but it also set him on fire.
McCollum went 5-under on his last 7 holes with 3-birdies and an eagle. He finished at 139 and had the lead on the scoreboard until Duncan turned in his card.
The only other golfer in the final three groups to make a run at the lead was USC Aiken’s Bjorn Rosengren.
The Pacers sophomore started the final day in a four-way tie for the lead. He broke out of the tie with Robbie Biershenk, Levi Joiner and A.J. Nolin, but was unable to catch Duncan.
McCollum’s 68 and Rosengren ‘s 72 left them in a second place tie at 139.
Joiner shot a final round 73 to finish in fourth place.
Six golfers finished in a tie for sixth place with Danny Brock shooting a 2-under 70 for the best round of the group.
Joining Brock in 6th place were Cory Taylor, A.J. Nolin, Michael Powell, Nick Willis and Zach Bishop all at 141.
Duncan’s North Greenville golf team plays in Conference Carolina and right now there is not much to play in after the league suspended fall competition.
“We can keep practicing and we may play in some tournaments, but it is a little uncertain right now. It’s great that this event was here. It was almost like a college tournament because many of the players are guys I play against in college. It was great to get a win,” he said.
Over the 7-year history of the championship college players have become a bigger part of the event.
The first four tournaments were won by Mid-Am type golfers, but the last three events have been won by college players.
Complete scores are available at http://upstategolfclub.com/2020UpstateAmateur.html