As late as Monday, Dawson Armstrong didn’t expect to play in the Dogwood Invitational, but he walked away with the tournament victory Saturday.
After the qualifying round Monday, which for a point he wasn’t even in, Armstrong was the first alternate. When he stepped off the course Monday tournament chairman Edward Toledano told him he was in the main field; another golfer dropped out.
Armstrong responded with three rounds of stellar golf and won the annual amateur tournament at Druid Hills Golf Club with a 16-under 200. Armstrong, who plays for Lipscomb, sealed the two-stroke victory with a birdie on the 18th hole in the final round Saturday.
“Everything at the end of the day turned out (to be) what I could ask for,” Armstrong said. “It was great. It was a roller coaster, no doubt.”
Heading into the final hole, Armstrong led two players, including second-place finisher Ashton Van Horne, by one stroke. Neither of those players birdied the par-5, which meant Armstrong needed only a par to win. He did one shot better.
“There were definitely nerves,” Armstrong said of his final round. But Armstrong calmed himself by following a new routine. Before each round, he tells himself that in 20 years or so people won’t remember the result of this golf tournament. Those thoughts gave Armstrong a sense of peace, and Saturday, he appeared relaxed.
Armstrong was the leader entering play Saturday, but he trailed by one shot after 15 holes. But a double bogey by then-leader Van Horne, who finished second, and a par by Armstrong gave the Lipscomb golfer a one-stroke advantage, a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
After Friday’s third round was cancelled because of severe weather, the Dogwood was shortened to a 54-hole tournament. Van Horne, who plays for Belmont, was the co-leader after the first round, but fell into a tie for third after the second round Thursday.
Brad Dalke, an Oklahoma signee, and Paul Boshoff, who’s from South Africa, both finished third at 13-under 203.
Last year’s champion Trey Rule, who plays for Mercer, tied for 39th with an even-par 214.
Will Chandler, who attends Marist School, had his best round of the tournament Saturday, a 6-under 66, and moved into a tie for 15th, the second-highest finish for an American high school student. Georgia golfer Zach Healy led the way for players with Georgia connections with a fifth-place finish.
At the end of the day, though, Armstrong was the golfer standing in front of the 18th green and holding the hefty winner’s trophy aloft.