Affrunti wins Hooters event at Gordon Lakes Golf Club by four

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By David Westin

Staff Writer

That was no ordinary Joe who showed up for the NGA/Hooters Tour event at Gordon Lakes Golf Course.

Joe Affrunti blitzed the field in the Kandy Waters Memorial Classic benefiting the Wounded Warriors, going wire-to-wire to win by four shots.

The 28-year-old Illinois golfer turned the event into a one-man show after opening with rounds of 64-65-68.

That gave him a seven-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round, where he shot 70 to finish at 21-under 267.

Louisiana golfer Casey Crain tied for the day’s low round with 66 and finished second. Crain, who was paired with Affrunti and Andrew Svoboda in the final group of the day, was eight back at the start of play.

“The way I looked at it was there were two tournaments going on: There was the tournament he was playing in and everybody else was playing for second,” Crain said. “Eight shots is too much to make up. I played well and he still beat me by four.

“The only way I thought I had a chance was to be 5- or 6-under after five holes,” Crain said. “I needed to get off to a hot start and put some heat on him, but that really didn’t happen.”

Crain did birdie two of the first three holes, but Affrunti was 1-under through three holes and not letting up. He would shoot 2-under 34 on the front nine.

“I had to pretty much not overlook today’s round,” Affrunti said. “The minute you do that, you can let it all go. You’ve still got to be aggressive and still want to make birdies. That’s what got me here in the first place.”

Affrunti made three birdies, giving him 17 for the week. He also had three eagles and just two bogeys.

“He didn’t make any mistakes, from what I saw today,” Crain said.

In keeping with the one-sided theme of the tournament, the race for second place wasn’t close either. Crain was three shots clear of the third-place golfers.

Of the area players, Augusta’s Emmett Turner tied for seventh (69 on Sunday for 276), Aiken’s Stephen Poole tied for ninth (71 for 277), North Augusta’s Kyle Bradley tied for 14th (72 for 280) and Evans amateur Adam McKenney tied for 35th (71 for 285).

It was Affrunti’s first victory on the tour’s Pro Series, and observers could see it coming. He finished as the runner-up in the previous event and was fifth the week before that.

“I had a good run going,” said Affrunti, who has won $56,350 in the past three events, counting the $33,566 he pocketed Sunday. He’s now fourth on the money list with $82,521.

“You always feel you have the talent to win; it’s a matter of when it comes out,” he said. “I proved to myself I still have it mentally to win.”

It took some mental toughness for Affrunti to avoid thinking about how it would look if he lost a six-shot lead in the final round.

“I just didn’t let that sneak in,” he said. “The minute you let it sneak it, it’s already got you. The minute your thoughts get loose, your swing gets loose.”

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851

or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.

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