Amateur champion Alan Dunbar rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to defeat US Amateur Champion Steven Fox one up to win the 16th annual Georgia Cup match at the Golf Club of Georgia last Thursday.
One up playing the last, Dunbar never gave Fox a chance to address his 10-foot birdie putt as he drained an uphill, right to left 12 footer for birdie to close out the match.
The Rathmore man’s win evened the overall Georgia Cup series at 8-8 with three of the last four editions going to the British Amateur champion. He also became the third Irish player to compete in the event and win his match (See past winners below)
According to B.B. Branton in The Chattanoogan:
On a wet, cold day on the Lakeside course, Dunbar - who said with a smile “the weather was great” - came out of the gate fast with birdies on Nos.1 and 2 to offset pars by Fox for a 2-up lead.
“Winning the first two holes was key as that definitely gave me confidence,” said the Northern Ireland native, who turns 23 on April 30, and who did not start playing competitive golf until he was 16.
“I thought I drove the ball well today and putted well, but missed some makeable putts,” he stated.
Missed Opportunities: Dunbar had a chance to go 4-up after seven, but missed a 10-foot par putt to win No.6 and slid a birdie putt attempt by on the left side on No.7
Fox, who trailed the entire match, pulled within one shot on three occasions – winning Nos.3 and 15 with pars to Dunbar’s bogey’s – and rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt to win the Par-3 17th before Dunbar closed out the match on 18.
“The weather made the course play long, but I had some chances to pull even and fought to the end,” said Fox.
Dunbar’s largest lead was 3-up after nine.
Fox had chances to halve No.9 to stay 2-down and win 11 and 12, but could only capture No.11 with a par-5 as Dunbar three-putted for a bogey 6.
The UTC senior three-putted from 10 feet on No.9 for a bogie 6 to trail by three and missed an 8-foot birdie attempt for the win on 11.
“I gave him one on nine and he gave me one back on 11, but I still had a chance at the end,” stated Fox.
After Fox won No.11, the golfers halved 12-13-14 before Fox won No.15 with a 3-foot par putt and was 1-down.
Big Putts for Fox: The UTC golfer stayed within striking distance as he rolled in a 12-footer to halve the par-4 10th, made an important save on the par-3 13th and also halved the par-4 14th with an up-and-down out of the bunker.
But at 16, Dunbar made an excellent up and down himself from a greenside bunker for a par-4, while Fox carded a bogey and the lead was back to two before Fox rolled in the long birdie putt on 17.
No.1 par-5 - Dunbar goes 1-up with 5-foot birdie … Fox is 20 feet below the hole and makes par
No.2 par-4 - Dunbar goes 2-up with 15-foot birdie … Fox is 30 feet past hole and 2-putts for par
No.3 par-3 - Fox wins with a par .. is 1-down … both players short of hole on tee shot … Fox makes a par from 6 inches … Dunbar misses par from 10 feet
No.4 par-4 - halved the hole … Dunbar putts from off the green and makes par … Fox chips to within 2” and makes par
No.5 par4 - Dunbar goes 2-up with par … Dunbar makes 2-foot par .. Fox misses 5-foot par putt
No.6 par-3 - both bogey .. Dunbar stays 2-up … both layers missed par putts .. Dunbar was beyond the hole on a hill 100 feet away and puts his excellent chip shot within 10 feet, but misses the par putt and a chance to go 3-up
No.7 par-4 - halved with pars … both on in 2 … Fox gets par from 30 feet … Dubar misses 7-foot birdie putt … Dunbar stays 2-up
No.8 par-4 - halved with pars … Dunbar misses 10-foot birdie putt .. Fox makes 18-foot par putt
No.9 par-5 - Dunbar wins with par … goes 3-up … Dunbar recovers from poor chip from the front of the green to 2-putt from 30 feet for par, but Fox 3-putts from 10 feet for bogey
No.10 par-4 - halved with pars … as Dunbar chips to within 2” for par, while Fox follows with big 12-footer also for par … Dunbar stays 3-up
No.11 par-5 - Fox wins with par … Fox’s long birdie putt slides by … Dunbar three-putts from 12 for bogey … Fox pulls within 2
No.12 par-4 - halved with pars … both just missed birdie putts … Dunbar, 2-up
No.13 par-3 - halved with pars … Dunbar is on in regulation and gets his par … Fox gets up and down from off the green for a big save … Dunbar stays 2-up
No.14 par-4 - halved with pars … Dunbar is on in regulation and two putts .. Fox makes 18-footer for par for an up-and-down from the bunker … Dunbar stays 2-up
No.15 par-4 - Fox wins with a par … Dunbar misses 10-footer for bogey … Fox makes 3-footer for par to pull within 1 with three to go
No.16 par-4 - Dunbar wins with par .. and his 2-up with 2 to go … puts bunker shot within 2 inches for par and Fox has bogey
No.17 par-3 … down 2 with 2 to go, Fox wins with birdie .. Dunbar putts from 40 feet for birdie and goes 10 feet past above the hole … Fox drains a 30-footer for birdie to extend the match … first time in the history of the event that a match goes 18 holes
No.18 par-5 .. Dunbar halves hole with a birdie to win 1-up .. in a greenside bunker in 2 … chips 12 feet past and makes the birdie putt to win as Fox’s ball was 10 feet away lying 3.
On To The Masters: The two champions will join four other amateur golfers at The Masters Tournament next week.
Turning Pro: Dunbar said he plans to turn pro after The Masters, while Fox plans to go pro at the end of the year.
Honorary Members: Both golfers and honorary Georgia Cup captain and former Masters Champion Bill Casper were given lifetime honorary memberships to the Golf Club of Georgia. “I will cherish this the rest of my life,” Casper stated.
Kudos to the Club Members and Staff: “Everyone has been so nice to us the past couple of days from the committee to the volunteers and to the 60 or 70 fans who came out and walked 18 holes with us on a cold, wet afternoon,” Fox stated. “Everything was great - but I hope the weather is better at The Masters!”
Deep Pockets and Helping Hands: The Wednesday night dinner and auction raised $110,000 for charities.
Billy Casper’s Advice: “Both of you (Alan and Fox) have exceptional talent … so you have to protect your talent … avoid the outside distractions that could hurt that talent.”
You Know You Are in the South, When …: At many golf tournaments, a few volunteers carry wooden paddles which have the word QUIET on them and hold them up when a player is about hit the ball … at Thursday’s Ga. Cup, the paddles had these words on them … “HUSH, y’all !”
Future UTC Golfer: Ringgold senior Brooks Thomas was at the match play event … he signed with the Mocs last November and will enroll in the fall.
Dunbar and Fox are amongst six amateurs who will tee it up in the Masters next Thursday.
They are joined by US Mid Amateur champion Nathan Smith, US Public Links champion TJ Vogel, US Amateur runner-up Michael Weaver and 14-year old Chinese player Tianlang Guan.
Guan who on the fourth-annual Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in November and will be the youngest player in the field and the youngest competitor in Masters history - 14 years, 5 months and 17 days old - when play begins. The previous youngest competitor was Matteo Manassero in 2010, who was 16 and qualified by winning the 2009 British Amateur Championship.
Georgia Cup - Past winners
Year - Course - Winner (US or British Amateur champion) - Result
1998 (Lakeside) Matt Kuchar (US) bt Craig Watson (Brit) 3&1
1999 (Lakeside) Sergio Garcia (Brit) bt Hank Kuehne (US) 5&4
2000 (Lakeside) David Gossett (US) bt Graeme Storm (Brit) 3&2
2001 (Creekside) Mikko Ilonen (Brit) bt Jeff Quinney (US) 6&4
2002 (Creekside) Michael Hoey (Brit) bt Bubba Dickerson (US) 4&2
2003 (Lakeside) Ricky Barnes (US) bt Alejandro Larrazabal (Brit) 4&2
2004 (Creekside) Gary Wolstenholme (Brit) bt Nick Flanagan (US) 4&2
2005 (Creekside) Ryan Moore (US) bt Stuart Wilson (Brit) 2&1
2006 (Lakeside) Brian McElhinney (Brit) bt Edoardo Molinari (US) 3&2
2007 (Lakeside) Richie Ramsay (US) bt Julien Guerrier (Brit) 2&1
2008 (Creekside) Colt Knost (US) bt Drew Weaver (Brit) 2&1
2009 (Lakeside) Danny Lee (US) bt Reinier Saxton (Brit) 2&1
2010 (Creekside) Matteo Manassero (Brit) bt Byeong Hun An (US) 5&4
2011 (Lakeside) Peter Uihlein (US) bt Jin Jeong (Brit) 2&1
2012 (Lakeside) Bryden Macpherson (Brit) bt Kelly Kraft (US) 2&1
2013 (Lakeside) Alan Dunbar (Brit) bt Steven Fox (US) 1 up.