Winning the Georgia PGA's Championship at Berkeley Hills Country Club meant a lot of things to Chris Nicol. Not only was he able to hold off one of the state's most successful club professionals and win is first major tournament, but he was able to make an uplifting phone call to his ailing grandfather.
Nicol, an apprentice at Towne Lake Hills in Woodstock, shot a final-round 71 and finished at 8-under 136 to win the inaugural tournament Tuesday. Nicol finished one shot ahead of Sonny Skinner, a PGA teaching professional from River Pointe Golf Club in Albany, who closed with a 67. Skinner had recently finished second in the PGA's Professional National Championship and is the reigning Georgia PGA section champion.
“This definitely changes the way I can go into a tournament and know I can compete,” Nicol said. “But this win was really more for my grandfather than it was for me.”
Nicol's grandfather, Jim Barkley of Marietta, has been fighting cancer. Nicol said his grandfather got him interested in playing golf when he was 4 or 5 years old and they spent many hours playing at the old Canterbury Country Club in Marietta.
Russ Davis, the PGA director of instruction at Atlanta's Cherokee Town and Country Club, was fourth at 5-under after a closing 68.
Buford resident Troy Matteson tied for 10th at last weekend's John Deere Classic with four rounds in the 60s. Matteson's week included a hole-in-one in the second round, as he knocked in a 6-iron from 207 yards on the seventh hole. It was the best showing of the year for the former Georgia Tech star, whose previous best finish was a tie for 17th at the Players Championship. ...
Paul Goydos didn't win the John Deere after he became the fourth player to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour. But Goydos got a consolation prize: he earned the final exemption into the British Open championship at St. Andrews. ...
Georgia will be well represented at St. Andrews, starting with reigning champion Stewart Cink of Duluth. Others include Jason Bohn of Acworth, David Duval of Georgia Tech, Mark Haastrup of Georgia State, Zach Johnson of Sea Island, Matt Kuchar of Georgia Tech, Davis Love III of Sea Island, Heath Slocum of Alpharetta, Steven Tiley of Georgia State and Bubba Watson of the University of Georgia. Haastrup and Tiley, who both play professionally in Europe, will be paired together the first two rounds. ... Another former Georgia State golfer, Joel Sjoholm, finished second at the European Challenge Tour's Allianz Golf Open de Leon. It was his second straight week to finish in the top five.
Emile Burger, a rising sophomore at the UGA, won the Yamaha Georgia Women's Open at Summer Grove Golf Club. Burger closed with a 72 and finished at 139, one shot better than two-time champion Margaret Shirley of Roswell. ... Paula Creamer used a B33-RX golf ball from Covington-based Bridgestone to win the U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont. ... Kent Cain is the new superintendent at the Country Club of the South in Johns Creek. Sam Leatherberry left the Country Club of Gwinnett to take Cain's old position at Bear's Best Atlanta in Suwanee. ... Bill Robinson has become head professional at Kinderlou Forest in Valdosta. ... Bobby Sabia is the new golf professional at Overlook Golf Links in LaGrange. ...
Atlanta photographer Rob Matre was chosen by the USGA to take images during the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Matre's black and white photos bring out great emotion in the subject and his image of winner Graeme McDowell with a bear hug around the championship trophy captured the joy of the moment. His photographs, as well as those from other events such as last week's Georgia Amateur, can be seen at www.robertmatre.com.
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