Columbus, Ga. – Continuing Georgia Tech’s recent string of success in amateur events, rising junior Connor Howe captured the championship of the 91st Southeastern Amateur Thursday afternoon in dramatic fashion, chipping in for a birdie at the final hole.
Howe, a regular in the Yellow Jackets’ lineup the last two years, had played local and regional events, winning twice and losing a playoff for a third win, near his Ogden, Utah home after spring sports were shut down in March. In his first major event of the summer, he picked up a 1-stroke triumph over Alex Goff of Kings Mountain, N.C., a redshirt sophomore at Kentucky.
After posting rounds of 67-65 Tuesday and Wednesday, Howe began the day three shots behind Atlanta’s Will Chandler, a senior at Georgia. With an eagle and a birdie and the rest pars over the first 16 holes, Howe held a two-stroke lead over Goff at 11-under-par when weather suspended play at 4:31 p.m.
After posting rounds of 67-65 Tuesday and Wednesday, Howe began the day three shots behind Atlanta’s Will Chandler, a senior at Georgia. With an eagle and a birdie and the rest pars over the first 16 holes at the Country Club of Columbus, Howe held a two-stroke lead over Goff at 11-under-par and was lining up a 10-foot putt for par at 17 when weather suspended play at 4:31 p.m.
After a delay of an hour and 14 minutes, Howe missed his par putt, reducing his lead to one. Goff made birdie at 18 to knot things up, while Howe hit his second shot behind the green, but his chip from eight yards off the green fell to give him the victory with an 11-under-par score of 199. Goff finished at 10-under-par 200.
“When they blew the horn, I was in a tough position to make par on the hardest hole on the course,” said Howe, who used his 60-degree wedge to execute the winning chip. “On 18 I hit my drive into the left rough and hit my second shot over the green, not the way you draw it up. I didn’t know that Goff made birdie, so I didn’t know I had to get it down to avoid a playoff. I was thinking ‘just get it on the green and make par.’”
After Alex Goff ties him up with a birdie at 18, Connor Howe chips in for the win at the @SoutheasternAm. Here’s a video of the winning shot. Another champion for the Yellow Jackets! pic.twitter.com/WyctWnrLNP
— Georgia Tech Golf (@GTGolf) July 23, 2020
— Georgia Tech Golf (@GTGolf) July 23, 2020
It was the fourth victory for a Yellow Jacket in amateur competition in the month of July, following Tyler Strafaci’s triumphs at the North & South Amateur July 4 and the Palmetto Amateur July 11, and Luke Schniederjans’ victory at the Georgia Amateur on July 12.
Howe’s victory is the sixth for a Yellow Jacket in the Southeastern Amateur, an event whose history dates back to 1922. The list includes Tech greats Watts Gunn (1924), Tommy Barnes (1938, 1946) and Seth Reeves (2011, 2013).
“I had been paying well, lost in a playoff the week before,” said Howe, who plans to return to Utah and remain there until the fall semester begins in mid-August. “I heard field here was going to be pretty strong, so I didn’t have a lot of expectations going in. I wasn’t really surprised to win, because I had been playing well, and my game is overall the best it’s ever been. I played well the first couple of days and gave myself a chance, and I’m very glad I was able to win.”
Four other Tech players were among the 90 who competed this week, with redshirt sophomore Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) tying for 19th place at 208 (-2) and redshirt junior Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.) tying for 35th place at 211 (+1). Sophomore Andy Mao (Johns Creek, Ga.) tied for 70th place at 219 (+9), and incoming freshman Aidan Kramer (Oviedo, Fla.) tied for 78th at 221 (+11).
Ben Carr of Georgia Southern finished third at 9-under-par 201, while Chandler finished fourth at 8-under-par 202 after a closing 73.
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Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 25th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 64 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 18 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships in program history, made 29 appearances in the NCAA Championship and been the national runner-up four times. Connect with Georgia Tech Golf on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GTGolf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.