Barron, Patel tied for lead at Georgia Amateur

Brett Barron won the 2018 Georgia Amateur. File photo courtesy of the Georgia State Golf Association.
Brett Barron won the 2018 Georgia Amateur. File photo courtesy of the Georgia State Golf Association.

By his own estimation, Brett Barron has played more than a thousand rounds of golf at the Atlanta Athletic Club. His family has been a member since he was a child, he grew up honing his skills as a junior on the club’s par-3 course and he won the men’s club championship before he entered college.

That home-course advantage could come in handy for Barron on Sunday, when the club hosts the final round of the 99th Georgia Amateur Championship. He begins the final day tied for first place with teenager Devin Patel at 3-under 139.

Alone in third at 1-under 141 is Alex Ross of Atlanta, a Pace Academy graduate who played at Davidson. Tied at even-par 142 are Georgia Tech’s Luke Schniederjans and mid-amateur Dalton Melnyk. Tied for sixth at 1 over are high school senior Maxwell Ford of Peachtree Corners, Nicolas Cassidy of the University of Georgia and 14-year-old Billy Abdow of Duluth.

Steve Kibare, who shared the first-round lead with Patel, shot 76 and is tied for ninth at 2-over 144.

Barron, who will be a senior at Georgia Southern this fall, is trying to become the 17th player to win multiple state championships. He won the 2018 Georgia Amateur when taking a lead into the final round at Athens Country Club.

“I’m pleased with my performance today,” Barron said. “On Sunday, just play golf. Can’t think about results or you’re going to get caught up in it. There are lot of good players, lot of names at the top. There are going to be a lot of people in contention (Sunday).”

Patel, a senior at Johns Creek High School, has not appeared nervous on the big stage. He had two birdies and two bogeys on Saturday en route to a 71 and shows no sign of wilting.

“I stuck to my game and grinded the entire round,” Patel said. “It wasn’t my best round, but I made sure par was my friend. There are a lot of very good players on the leaderboard. I just have to play my game and keep grinding.”

Barron set the tone for his second-round 69 with some accurate putting.

“I got lucky early. I hit on the green on No. 2 and I was above the hole and I knew it wasn’t in the spot to be,” he said. “I hit a really good putt with what I thought was good speed and I could tell it was going to go five feet by, but it went in. No. 3, same situation, above the hole and made it for par. So that kind of got my round started knowing I made those two putts.”

He also had an eagle at the 12th hole, matching the score of playing partner David Noll Jr., who holed his approach from the fairway.

“In midflight I was telling my caddie, (Noll’s shot) was perfect. It landed about 10-15 short and rolled in like a putt,” Barron said. “I’m thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve got 25 feet for eagle and if I don’t make it, I lose the hole.’ I had a good read and hit it perfectly and it went in. It was a bonus.”

The streaky Ross – who shot a 31 on the back nine on Friday -- lurks two shots behind. He was tied for the lead twice, but never built any momentum. His 72 included three birdies and four bogeys.

Schneiderjans had rounds of 72-70 and complained he hasn’t played well this week. He is trying to become the first Georgia Tech player to win the state amateur since Bunky Henry in 1964.

Melnyk, who played at the University of Florida in the early 2000s, putted well throughout the round. An unfortunate mud ball led to a bogey on the final hole. He is trying to become the first mid-am winner since Noll won his second title in 2011.

“I drove it really well and I made a lot of putts,” Melnyk said. “Made a lot of 4-5 footers for par and a couple of 12 footers for par to keep it going.”