Originally created 08/20/00

Juniors take control in Palmetto Am 082000 - The Augusta Chronicle



AIKEN -- Two of South Carolina's top junior golfers used the Palmetto Amateur's second round Saturday as their springboard to the top of the leaderboard.

Seventeen-year-old Alex Hamilton of Aiken leads Brian Duncan, 18, of Greenville, S.C., by one shot as both posted two of the tournament's three sub-70 rounds.

Both Hamilton and Duncan are high school seniors, Hamilton at South Aiken, Duncan at Travelers Rest. Both rank in South Carolina's top 10 among juniors, Hamilton at No. 6, Duncan at No. 2. Both are being heavily recruited by colleges and neither has made up his mind.

And both played in the recent U.S. Junior Amateur in Waverely, Ore, where both made the 64-player cut, both won their first-round match before both lost in the second round.

And the similarities between the two lean teens doesn't end there.

Both used streaky putters Saturday to bolt into contention, Hamilton making four birdies to shot 2-under-par 69, Duncan making five in carding a tournament-best 4-under-par 67.

"To win this tournament would be huge for me," Hamilton said. This is the 25th anniversary of the Palmetto Amateur, sponsored by the Aiken Sertoma Club.

"I know how much this tournament means to everyone in Aiken. Winning this would really kick-start my year."

Mark Gaynor of Greenville, S.C., and Steve Liebler, a former PGA Tour member and former University of South Carolina golf coach, sit at 2-over-par 144, two shots behind Hamilton.

A member of the Thoroughbreds' state champions from a year ago, Hamilton should have plenty of local knowledge in navigating the 6,380-yard Palmetto Golf Club as he and his family are members.

"I play here almost every day during the summer," Hamilton said. "There are some putts you have here you have to know where the break is because you won't be able to read it."

That intimacy may have helped his round Saturday, as he made birdies at Nos. 2 and 6, and at 10 and 18.

At the difficult No. 3, Hamilton made a clutch 10-foot par putt, and he rolled in a 4-foot sidehill snake on No. 11 for par.

"Definitely, my putter was working," he said. "It just kept my momentum going, and when you can make putts out here, your whole game gets a boost."

Duncan, a non-resident member of Palmetto, gave himself plenty of boosts after opening with a 5-over-par 76 on Friday.

"I couldn't concentrate the first day," Duncan said of Friday's traditional am-am day, where two sponsors join two competitors. "Today felt more like a tournament day, and it does make a difference with who you play with."

Winner of the Carolinas Juniors and the South Carolina match play in 1999, Duncan straightened out his driver and found himself with plenty of birdie chances.

"On 3, I hit my tee shot right in front of the red tees on 14," Duncan said, sheepishly. "I hit an iron to 15 feet and made it. I knew it could be a good day then."

When he ran in a 30-foot birdie on the 8th, Duncan discovered just how good his day would be. He added two-putt birdies on the par-5 6th and 10th in posting his 67.

"It was just one of those days where everything was working," he said.

It wasn't working for first-round leader Brennen King, who followed his Friday 70 with a Saturday 78.

"Two stupid doubles on the front killed me," said King, 22. "When you only make one birdie, you don't expect to play good."

Scores, tee times

Palmetto Golf Club, Aiken

6,380 yards, par-71

Alex Hamilton/73-69 -- 142Brian Duncan/76-67 -- 143Mark Gaynor/74-70 -- 144Steve Liebler/71-73 -- 144Kevin Robinson/72-73 -- 145Matthew Kohut/72-73 -- 145Terry Faulk/75-71 -- 146Gus Sylvan/73-73 -- 146Matt Harbin/72-74 -- 146

147 -- Buddy Davis (78-69), Vance Embry (76-71), Dick Hogan (75-72), Wade Radke (75-72), Ken Wiland (75-72), Mark Wagner (73-74), Chad Perman (71-76).

148 -- Richard Tatum (75-73), Noble Judy (75-73), Daran Womack (74-74), David Reece (74-74), George Coker (73-75), Stephen Lessing (73-75), Matt Stewart (73-75), Chris Cassetta (72-76), Jay Sylvan (71-77), Brennen King (70-78).

149 -- Hunter Shull (79-70), Joe Hendrick (78-71), Joey Davis (72-77).

150 -- Justin Young (77-73), Christopher Connolly (76-74), Trey Williamson (76-74), Jeff Knox (75-75), David Sligh (74-76), Jamie Thomas (73-77), Sam Mays (72-78).

151 -- Kevin Kisner (77-74), Jason Martin (76-75), Tom Wyatt (74-77), John Blackwell (73-78).

152 -- Todd King (77-75), Rhett Graham (77-75), Paul Tucker (77-75), Jimmy Hamilton (75-77), Jay Cudd (74-78).

153 -- Phil Milner (78-75), Robert Dargan (77-76), Joe Stepp (77-76), Todd Satterfield (76-77), Courtland Lowe (72-81).

154 -- Matthew Giffin (73-81). 155 -- Dale Haas (79-76), Davis Coleman (79-76), David Dargan (76-79), Norman Swenson (76-79), Wayne Hensley (75-80).

156 -- Jeff Palker (79-77), Mathew Doughty (78-78), Joe Cunningham (77-79), Justin Gandy (76-80), Bill Hathaway (75-81).

157 -- Bryan Barnett (82-75), Thomas Addison (78-79), Robin Alley (79-78), Ryan Potter (79-78).

158 -- Scott Robbins (84-74), Matthew Ricks (82-76), Charlie Busbee (80-78), Ben Duncan (80-78), Bill Duncan (80-78), Kraig Theesfeld (79-79), Bubba Verenes (77-81), Juan Bossi (77-81).

159 -- Robby Bennett (80-79), Jimmy Miles (79-80). 160 -- Dane Anderson (83-77), Rob Roland (83-77), Yates Coleman (84-76), Gil Happel (84-76). 161 -- Chip Cochran (83-78), Mo York (83-78), Tommy Addison Jr. (83-78). 162 -- Philip Kelly (83-79). 163 -- Eric Wiggins (81-82), Paul Cobb (80-83). 164 -- Matt Fulmer (81-83), Berry Crain (83-81). 166 -- Gerry Faulk (86-80). 168 -- Mac McLendon (86-82).

Today's tee times

7:30 a.m. -- Faulk, McLendon. 7:39 -- Cobb, Crain, Fulmer. 7:48 -- Addison Jr., Kelly, Wiggins. 7:57 -- Happel, Cochran, York.

8:06 a.m. -- Anderson, Coleman, Roland. 8:15 -- Bossi, Bennett, Miles. 8:24 -- Bill Duncan, Theesfeld, Verenes. 8:33 -- Ricks, Busbee, Ben Duncan. 8:42 -- Potter, Addison III, Robbins. 8:51 -- Hathaway, Barnett, Alley.

9 a.m. -- Doughty, Cunningham, Gandy. 9:09 -- Swenson, Hensley, Palker. 9:18 -- Haas, Coleman, D.Dargan. 9:27 -- Satterfield, Lowe, Giffin. 9:36 -- Milner, R.Dargan, Stepp. 9:45 -- Tucker, J.Hamilton, Cudd. 9:54 -- Blackwell, T.King, Graham.

10:03 a.m. -- Kisner, Martin, Wyatt. 10:12 -- Sligh, Thomas, Mays. 10:21 -- Connolly, Williamson, Knox. 10:30 -- Hendrick, J.Davis, Young. 10:39 -- J.Sylvan, B.King, Shull. 10:48 -- Lessing, Stewart, Cassetta. 10:57 -- Womack, Reece, Coker.

11:06 a.m. -- Perman, Tatum, Judy. 11:15 -- Radke, Wiland, Wagner. 11:24 -- B.Davis, Embry, Hogan. 11:33 -- Faulk, G.Sylvan, Harbin. 11:42 -- Liebler, Robinson, Kohut. 11:51 -- A.Hamilton, Brian Duncan, Gaynor.

Reach Rick Dorsey at (706) 823-3219 or rdorsey@augustachronicle.com.