Jake Peacock re-finds footing in time to win Georgia Amateur title

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Jake Peacock wins the men's 2023 GSGA Amateur Championship at Rivermont Golf Club on Sunday, July 16, 2023. PHOTO: Kate Awtrey-King

Credit: Kate Awtrey-King

Credit: Kate Awtrey-King

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Jake Peacock wins the men's 2023 GSGA Amateur Championship at Rivermont Golf Club on Sunday, July 16, 2023. PHOTO: Kate Awtrey-King

It took only three holes for Jake Peacock to turn a two-shot lead into a two-shot deficit at the 102nd Georgia State Amateur Championship. That’s what a bogey-bogey-double stretch can do.

“And he made a 20-footer to save double-bogey,” said caddie Shaun “Tubbs” Cook. “At that point you’re looking for something positive to take away.”

But rather than continuing to trend the wrong direction, Peacock was able to settle down and reverse his fortunes. He birdied four holes to shoot 32 on the back nine and finish with a 71, leaving him at 6-under 278, one shot ahead of J.D. Culbreth of Thomasville and three ahead of Georgia State’s Connor Macmillan at Rivermont Golf Club in Johns Creek.

Peacock, a resident of nearby Milton, is a rising junior at South Florida. He was the only player in the field to post red numbers each day and was able to survive the adversity on a hot Sunday afternoon.

“Obviously, I didn’t have my best stuff at the time,” he said. “But I knew there was a long way to go and I was only two shots behind. I didn’t really do anything different, I just tried to reset and start with a blank slate from here on until the 18th and now here I am.”

Peacock knew there were some potential birdies awaiting on the back nine at Rivermont if he could stay close. His patience paid off with birdies at No. 11 and 12 and when he birdied No. 15 and 16, he regained the lead by a shot.

Peacock putted well on the back nine, but perhaps the most important came at No. 17, a tricky elevated par-3 that was playing into breezy conditions. Peacock hit his wedge about 35 feet from the hole and left his birdie putt about six feet short. He was able to roll it in for par and celebrated it with a hearty fist pump.

“We were just trying to flight it to the center of the green and walk out of there with a three. That would be wonderful,” Peacock said. “That’s exactly what we did.”

On the par-4 18th, Peacock put his drive in the fairway and, after seeing Culbreth short-side himself in the greenside bunker, was able to play to the middle of the green. Two putts later, after Culbreth couldn’t hole out his sand shot, Peacock tapped in for the victory.

“After J.D. was short-sided in the bunker, my target kind of changed more toward the center of the green,” Peacock said. “I hit a lovely shot in there and gave myself a pretty stress-free putt to hoist this trophy.”

Peacock, who tied for 11th at the 2022 Georgia Amateur, brought plenty of confidence into the week after finishing second at the Magnolia Amateur in Hattiesburg, Miss.

“I knew my game was really, really close and I just continued to put trust in the work I’ve done.”

Peacock, who plays out of The Golf Club of Georgia, credited his swing coach Chris Marotto of the Iron Horse Golf Club in Alpharetta and his mental coach Phil Shomo.

Culbreth, 17, is a student at the Brookwood School in Thomasville. It’s the second straight year Culbreth has contended. He tied for fourth at the 2022 Georgia Amateur in Savannah.

Macmillan, whose father Gordon was on the bag, shook off a double-bogey on the fifth hole and got into the mix, too. A bogey at 17, where he missed the green to the left, led to a bogey and killed his chances.

“I think I played pretty good and just kept putting good swings on it,” Macmillan said. “This place is so tough, you’re going to make a mistake every now and again. It was just fun to play out there and I was pretty proud of how I played and composed myself.”

Defending champion William Love of Atlanta, who will be a sophomore at Duke, finished with a 70 and tied for fourth at 2-under 282 with Jack Vajda of Waleski, UGA’s Nicolas Cassidy of Johns Creek, Luke Dasher of Macon and Stephen Behr of Atlanta, who was the low mid-amateur. Vajda’s 68 was the low round of the day.

Rivermont was celebrating its 50-year anniversary by hosting the Georgia Amateur for the first time. The versatile course play to par 70 on the first two days and to par 72 on the final two rounds.