Last month, Robert Mize wasn’t even in the field for the Georgia Amateur. Today, he’s the champion.
The son of 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize failed in his attempt to qualify for the championship in early June at the Savannah Golf Club. He missed by a shot, losing in a playoff. But Mize learned a couple of weeks ago that another player had withdrawn and that he was in the field.
He took advantage of the opportunity and Sunday won the 93rd Georgia Amateur at the Idle Hour Club. The rising junior at Columbus State shot a 3-under 67 to finish at 5-under 275, good for a four-shot win over four others.
“I was the first alternate, so I guess I need to write a thank-you note to whoever withdrew,” Mize said.
At the trophy presentation, he was surprised to see his proud parents standing on a nearby hill. Larry Mize has had some recent back issues that forced him to miss this week’s U.S. Senior Open and also left him unable to make the trip to Macon.
But after leaving church on Sunday morning, Larry Mize kept checking his son’s online scorecard and told his wife Bonnie to hop in the car. They drove from Columbus and while he didn’t see a single shot, he was there to embrace his son and see him hold the amateur trophy that dates back to 1916, when Bobby Jones won it.
“I’m excited, but most of all I’m just happy for him,” the elder Mize said.
Robert Mize won two college tournaments last season at Columbus State, but admitted it was special to win the Georgia Amateur.
“It’s an honor to be on the same trophy with Bobby Jones,” Robert Mize said. “There are some great names on that trophy. I’ve always looked forward to playing in this and it’s an honor to win it.”
For 70 holes, it appeared that Mize was going to win with ease. After a par on the 16th hole, he enjoyed a five-shot lead. But amped up with adrenaline, Mize hit his tee shot at No. 17 into a hazard and wound up with a triple-bogey.
Mize barely missed a birdie putt on the final hole and then watched as those behind encountered their own troubles. Stan Gann Jr. of Bonaire, who opened the final round with a three-shot lead, had his own triple bogey at 17, shot 76 and fell into tie for sixth.
“I tapped in on 18 and immediately took a look at the scoreboard,” said Mize, who set 67 as a target goal for Sunday. “I was still pretty nervous. And I was trying to stay in the moment in case we had a playoff.”
Tied for second at 279 were Dogwood Invitational winner and first-round leader Trey Rule of Mercer, Kennesaw State’s Kelby Burton, Georgia Southern’s Carter Collins and Will Chandler, a rising junior at Marist who has already committed to Georgia.
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC