07/09/18 — GOLF: Great Dane -- Jones repeats at Amateur Open Division champ

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GOLF: Great Dane -- Jones repeats at Amateur Open Division champ

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 9, 2018 5:51 AM



MOUNT OLIVE -- Dane Jones could live with the string of pars.

Still, he desperately needed a pick me up.

And a double bogey on No. 6 where he hit a rope hook out of bounds, Jones told himself to 'go ahead and get one here on seven.'

He did.

Jones bagged the 'big bird' -- an eagle on the par-5, 439-yard layout.

"That got me jump-started to finish out my round strong," Jones said.


Jones built a two-stroke lead over second-day leader Michael Sutton and stepped into cruise control, which made the back nine a mere formality. He eventually filed a 4-under-par 67 and secured his second consecutive Wayne County Men's Amateur Open Division championship at Southern Wayne Country Club on Sunday afternoon.

He became the first back-to-back Open Division winner since Clark Rose accomplished the feat in 2012 and '13. In all, there have been seven back-to-back champions spread among the four divisions since the Amateur's inception in 1999.

"It feels good to be part of the back-to-back club," said Jones, whose three-day mark of 206 ties him for the second-lowest 54-hole total in WCMA history.

Lionel Sutton claimed his third straight Senior Division title, and tied John Zambelli for the most WCMA individual crowns with seven.

Ben King topped the Super Senior field.

Larry Keim derailed two-time defending champ Mickey Nance in the Masters Division.

Sutton turned in a stellar 67 on a soggy Lane Tree course and held a one-stroke lead over Jones going into the final round. That advantage dwindled after a bogey on No. 3 and a double-bogey on No. 8.

"I probably missed about six putts within six feet," Sutton said. "The margin of error for winning this tournament is very small. They're great players. You can't just waste strokes away out there and expect to win like I did today.

"It's a new experience, a whole lot of pressure. It was my first time actually contending in this tournament, so I was really feeling it. I'm glad I did as well as I did, honestly."

Nick Adams, who played in the final foursome with Jones, Sutton and Jonathan Burke, was the only player in the group to birdie No. 8. He made the turn at 1-under.

The four-time Open Division runner-up dropped in three birdies on the back side and ended with a 68 -- a total of 212 over the three-day tournament.

"He was coming, hitting the ball pretty good and made a couple of birdies in a row that got me thinking 'what if this, what if that,'" Jones said. "I knew par was going to be a good score coming in the last three holes and I just happened to throw a birdie in there on 17.

"That was it."

Burke had his share of birdies and posted a 70. His 54-hole score was 214.

Lionel Sutton has finished atop the leaderboard in either the Open or Senior Division each of the last four years and seven times overall since 2007.

"It's always fun competing," Sutton said. "I have really struggled this weekend and just barely got it done. They kind of let me win this one, I believe. I didn't go out and win it, really. I guess all of us there at the end were not playing like we were capable of."

Sutton carded a 76 and ended up at 218.

Jamie Martin finished two strokes back, followed by Stan Adams.

For just the third time in WCMA history, a playoff was needed to determine a division champ. King forced the extra hole with a final-round 73 and denied Roland Gurley, who entered the final day with a three-stroke advantage.

The previous two playoff winners were Harvey Reinhardt in 2000 and John Zambelli in 2007, both in the Senior Division.

Keim, like King, became a first-time WCMA champ. He managed to protect his one-shot lead over Nance, who recorded his lowest round (76) of the tournament at SWCC.