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Justin Lower wins Spring Hill Classic

Tifton, Ga. – (March 3, 2013) – As in life, professional golf is about overcoming obstacles and pursing dreams. And that was never more evident than in the final round of the NGA TOUR’s Spring Hill Classic on Sunday afternoon.

Former David Toms Award recipient Justin Lower of Canal Fulton, Ohio, carded a 2-under 69 in the final round of the $200,000 event and edged fellow David Toms Award winner Brad Schneider by a single stroke to claim his first NGA Pro Series win.

“It was pretty special to have me and Brad up there at the end with both of us being David Toms Award winners,” said Lower, whose father, Tim, and younger brother, Chris, lost their lives in a car accident in 2005. “I played with him in the third round and we were able to share some words after the round. It really gives you hope that persistence pays off.”

After an inauspicious start, Lower would need to lean on that tenacity in the final round to move atop the cluttered leaderboard by day’s end.

The 2011 David Toms Award winner, presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America and the David Toms Foundation to a men’s golfer who has overcome adversity to achieve collegiate excellence, started the final round tied for fourth and found himself going the wrong way to start the day after he bogeyed two of the first five holes. However, Lower bounced back with birdies on Nos. 6 and 9 to creep back into contention.

“The bad start didn’t affect me much today, because I didn’t get off to a good start in any round this week,” said Lower, who finished with rounds of 71-68-68-69 and earned $28,000 for the victory. “I told myself I was playing well and the shots would start falling. I had a good birdie on six, missed a five-footer for birdie on No. 8 and birdied No. 9. After that, I knew I was in contention.”

Albeit telepathically.

“I did my best not to look at the leaderboard walking from the ninth hole to the 10th,” said Lower, a 2011 All-Nicklaus selection at Malone University. “When I first came out here, it was easy to get caught up in the all names on that leaderboard. I tried to focus on the next shot and not worry about what everyone else was doing.”

After posting six pars in row on the backside, Lower made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to take the outright lead at 8-under par, one shot clear of clubhouse leader Schneider. Lower recorded a par on the final round of regulation to finish with a 276 total and earn a breakout victory.

“It’s special to win on the NGA TOUR,” said Lower. “You see guys like Keegan Bradley, Michael Thompson and Ted Potter Jr. playing on TV, and they were winning out here just a couple of years ago. It gives me hope for my future. If I can continue my process, I feel like I can be on the PGA TOUR one day.”

With the victory, Lower may get a chance to play on the PGA TOUR this season, if he can continue his stellar play. The leading member money winner on the NGA TOUR at midseason will receive an event exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Reno-Tahoe Open.

“Everyone out here wants to be on the PGA TOUR,” said Lower. “Getting this win makes it a reachable goal for me, and I’m going to work my tail off trying to get that exemption.”

Despite coming up one shot shy of Lower, Schneider, of Valrico, Fla., also showed plenty of intestinal fortitude in the Spring Hill Classic. The former University of Central Florida standout, who won the 2012 David Toms Award for overcoming multiple surgeries and compartment syndrome after breaking his leg in 2006, posted rounds of 71-66-71-69 to finish with a 7-under 277 total. Schneider claimed his first podium finish on the NGA TOUR in just his third start on the Pro Series.

Bo Hoag (73) and Nick Rousey (73) were also part of the lead battle much of the final round on Sunday.

Rousey, a 2013 Web.com Tour member and former University of Alabama standout, spent much of the day tied for the lead at 7-under par, but a late bogey dropped the Pensacola, Fla., golfer into a tie for third at 6-under par.

Hoag, a former Ohio State standout from Columbus, Ohio, had a chance to force a playoff on the final hole of regulation, but his birdie try raced by the hole and his comeback putt didn’t fall, leaving him tied for third.

Marc-Etienne Bussieres of Quebec, Canada, also finished tied for third in the Spring Hill Classic.  The former Golf Quebec Golfer of the Year cared a 1-under 70 on Sunday to join Hoag and Rousey at 6-under par.

Trent Whitekiller (66), Peter Malnati (71) and third-round leader Brian Maurer (75) finished tied for sixth at 5-under par, while Seth Fair (69), Patton Kizzire (69), Clayton Rask (70), James Vargas (70), Will McCurdy (71), Erik Barnes (73) and Hernan Piri Borja (73) finished T9 at 4-under par.

For full-field scores, click here.

The NGA TOUR would like to thank everyone at Spring Hill Country Club for an amazing inaugural event. The Pro Series will return to action on March 11 with the playing of the Kandy Waters Memorial Classic in North Augusta, S.C.

Third Round Update: Brian Maurer retains lead in Spring Hill Classic

Tifton, Ga. – (March 2, 2013) – Brian Maurer has two top-10 finishes on the NGA TOUR Pro Series, but if the former Ball State standout can keep up his solid play on Sunday, he may claim his first victory in the Spring Hill Classic.
 
Maurer of Richmond, Ind., took the early lead with a 66 in the first round of the $200,000 event and will start the final round one shot ahead of Nick Rousey and Bo Hoag after shooting a 2-under 69 in the third round on Saturday.

Maurer, who also posted a 3-under 69 in the second round, was even par through 14 holes in the third round on Saturday, but he birdied four of his last five holes to keep himself atop the leaderboard and in position for a $28,000 payday. Maurer is 9-under par following the third round of play.

Rousey, a multi-time NGA TOUR winner from Pensacola, Fla., also posted a 3-under 69 in the third round. The former University of Alabama All-American had a chance to carry the outright lead into the final round but a double bogey at the final hole left him at 8-under par and tied for second with Hoag.

Hoag, a former Ohio State stalwart from Columbus, Ohio, posted four birdies and two bogeys on Saturday to join Rousey in a tie for second at 8-under par. Hoag’s best finish on the NGA TOUR Pro Series is a tie for sixth.

Hernan Piri Borja (68), Zack Fischer (68), Justin Lower (68) and Erik Barnes (71) will begin the final round tied for fourth at 6-under par, while Brian Richey (67), Justin Hueber (68), Brad Schneider (71), Marc-Etienne Bussieres (71) start Sunday play tied for eighth at 5-under par.

Rookie Will McCurdy will start the final round 13th at 4-under par. James Vargas (70), Paul Apyan (70), Clayton Rask (73), Gabriel Costa (69) and 2011 U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft (66) are T14 and 3-under par.

For full-field scores, click here. 

The final round of the Spring Hill Classic is scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. As always, admission is free to the public.

Friday Update: Bo Hoag takes clubhouse lead at Spring Hill Classic

Tifton, Ga. – (March 1, 2013) – Former Ohio State standout Bo Hoag posted a 6-under 65 in the second round of the Spring Hill Classic on Friday afternoon to earn the clubhouse lead of the $200,000 NGA TOUR event.
 
Hoag of Columbus, Ohio, recorded five birdies, one bogey and an eagle in the second round to move from T17 into the outright lead. Hoag, who posted a 1-under 70 in the first round, is looking for his first win on the NGA TOUR and was one shot clear of the field when play was halted on Friday evening.

Multi-time NGA TOUR winner Nick Rousey also posted one of the lowest rounds of the day, shooting a 4-under 67 to move into a tie for second at 6-under par. Rousey, a former University of Alabama All-American from Pensacola, Fla., posted five birdies and one bogey in the second round.

Nick Rousey“I played solid today,” said Rousey. “It wasn’t as cold and windy today. I hit the ball in play and managed my game. I love this type of course. You have to place your ball and you just can’t get up there and bomb it. This course suits my game and I’m putting a little better this week.”

Fellow NGA TOUR winner Erik Barnes, a former Austin Peay golfer from Cape Coral, Fla., posted his second 68 in as many days to join Rousey in a tie for second. Barnes carded five birdies and two bogeys on Friday.

Peter Malnati, a former University of Missouri golfer from Dandridge, Tenn., kept up his solid play in his NGA TOUR debut, shooting his second 68 of the week to join Rousey and Barnes in a tie for second.

Last week’s winner Clayton Rask of Otsego, Minn., stayed hot in the second round at Spring Hill, posting a 4-under 67 to join Marc-Etienne Bussieres and Brian Maurer in a tie for fifth at 5-under par for the event. Maurer, the first round leader, was still on the course when play was suspended, while Bussieres carded a 5-under 66 in the second round.

Justin Lower (68), Zack Fischer (68), Seth Fair (72), Sam Ryder (72), Hernan Piri Borja (68) and Hunter Hamrick are 3-under and tied for eighth. Hamrick, a former University of Alabama All-American from Montgomery, Ala., was still on the course when play was suspended, but the 2012 U.S. Open competitor’s 68 on Thursday kept him on the first page of the leaderboard.

For full-field scores, click here.

The second round of the Spring Hill Classic will restart at 8 a.m. and the third round is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. As always, admission is free to the public.

First Round Update: Brian Maurer holds clubhouse lead in Spring Hill Classic

Tifton, Ga. – Brian Maurer holds clubhouse lead in Spring Hill Classic(February 28, 2013) – On a day when only 18 players that completed the first round broke par, Brian Maurer turned in one of his best rounds on the NGA TOUR to take the early lead in the Spring Hill Classic.

Maurer, a Ball State alumnus from Richmond, Ind., posted six birdies and one bogey at Spring Hill Country Club in the first round en route to a 5-under 66 and the clubhouse lead in the $200,000 event. Maurer, the 2009 Ball State Most Valuable Player, is playing in his 49th event and searching for his first victory.

James Vargas and Riley Wheeldon were also able to somewhat tame the tight, 6,850-yard layout in the opening round, shooting 4-under 67s on Thursday. Vargas, a former University of Florida golfer from Miami, made the turn at even par before posting four birdies on the inward nine. Wheeldon, a former Louisville Cardinal from Comox, Canada, carded five birdies and one bogey in the first round.

Rookies Hunter Harmrick and Peter Malnati were 3-under par and tied for fourth when play was suspended on Thursday evening.

After a bogey on the opening hole, Hamrick, a former University of Alabama All-American from Montgomery, Ala., birdied five of his next seven holes and finished his front nine at 4-under par. The 2012 U.S. Open competitor, however, posted three bogeys and only two birdies on the backside to finish with a 68.

In his NGA TOUR debut, Malnati, a former University of Missouri golfer from Dandridge, Tenn., recorded five birdies and two bogeys in the first round of play to join Hamrick on the first page of the leaderboard.

A week after finishing second at Killearn, Trent Whitekiller of Sallisaw, Okla., kept up his solid play. The former Oklahoma State golfer posted four birdies and two bogeys in the first round and was 2-under par and tied for sixth with NGA TOUR veterans Justin Hueber, Kelvin Day, Paul Apyan, Ken Looper and 2011 Web.com Tour member Travis Bertoni.

Like Whitekiller, last week’s winner Clayton Rask seems to have carried some momentum into the Spring Hill Classic. Rask, a former Minnesota Golden Gopher from Otsego, Minn., finished the day 1-under par and tied for 12th with Ben Silverman, Seath Lauer, Bo Hoag, Oscar Stark, Brett Munson and T.J. Bordeaux.

For full-field scores, click here

Both the conclusion of the first round and the start of the second round at Spring Hill Country Club will begin at 8:15 a.m. on Friday. As always, admission is free to the public.

NGA TOUR ready for Spring Hill Classic

Myrtle Beach, S.C. – (February 26, 2013) – A week after kicking off the 2013 season in Tallahassee, Fla., last week, the next generation of PGA TOUR stars will move a few hours to the north for the playing of the inaugural Spring Hill Classic at Spring Hill Country Club in Tifton, Ga.

Known for attracting the top fields this side of the Web.com and PGA Tours, the NGA TOUR will bring a gaggle of über-talented golfers to the pristine 18-hole layout, all hoping to take the bulk of the $200,000 purse.

After earning his first NGA TOUR victory at Killearn Country Club last week, Clayton Rask will be riding a wave of momentum into the Spring Hill Classic. With his $28,000 payday at Killearn, Rask took the early lead in the money standings. If he can stay atop the standings at midseason, the former Minnesota Golden Gopher will earn an event exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Reno-Tahoe Open.

Clayton Rask“I try not to focus on it too much, but that is one of my goals,” said Rask, of Otsego, Minn. “I took some time off before the season and didn’t touch a club for about a month and a half. I felt refreshed to the start the season and I played well. Hopefully, I can keep it up for the rest of the season.”

There will be plenty of players in the Spring Hill Classic capable of breaking Rask’s stranglehold on the money list. This week’s event will feature a 168-player field filled with a slew of NGA TOUR winners, former PGA and Web.com Tour players and dozens of collegiate All-Americans.

After winning a tour-high three times in 2012, David Skinns of Lincoln, England, started out the 2013 season with a T12 finish last week and will be one of the favorites in the Spring Hill Classic. The former University of Tennessee All-American has finished inside the top 15 in 10 of his last 12 starts on the NGA TOUR Pro Series. Skinns, a former NGA TOUR Player of the Year and Suwanee, Ga. resident, also made six of eight cuts on the Web.com Tour last season.

Jeff Corr, a 2012 Web.com Tour member, is another veteran player that is expected to contend for the win this week. The Jacksonville State alum is a four-time NGA TOUR Pro Series winner and two-time victor on the Bridgestone Winter Series this season. Like Skinns, Corr of Longwood, Fla., has finished inside the top 15 in 10 of his last 12 starts on the NGA TOUR, including a T5 finish last week.

Rookie Hunter Hamrick, a former University of Alabama All-American, lived up to his billing in the season-opener at Killearn, finishing T9, and will be looking to continue his stellar play this week. Hamrick, who helped the Crimson Tide to a No. 1 ranking in 2012, competed in five PGA TOUR events last season, including the U.S. Open where he finished T46. Hamrick also posted a T10 finish in the True South Classic on his way to earning over $115,000 on the PGA TOUR in 2012.

Kelly KraftFellow rookie Kelly Kraft, the 2011 U.S. Amateur champion, is another player expected to be near the top of the leaderboard this week. Kraft, a former Southern Methodist University All-American from Dallas, finished T18 in his NGA TOUR debut last week. In addition to competing on the NGA TOUR this season, Kraft, who made the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year, is scheduled to play in at least seven PGA TOUR events this season on sponsor exemptions. 

Trent Whitekiller of Sallisaw, Okla., returns to action this week after posting a second-place finish at Killearn in his NGA TOUR debut. The former Oklahoma State alumnus has yet to make a bogey on the NGA TOUR. James Vargas, a former University of Florida standout from Miami, and Texan Zack Fisher finished T3 last week and are in the field for the second event of the NGA TOUR season.

This week’s field will also include 2012 NGA Pro Series winners Rick Cochran, the nephew of PGA winner Russ Cochran and a Middle Tennessee State alumnus; Jonathan Randolph, a 2010 All-Nicklaus team member and All-American selection from Ole Miss; Ken Looper, a former LSU standout; Chas Narramore, a former Middle Tennessee State stalwart; Jay Woodson, a former James Madison University linkster; Anthony Broussard, a former University of North Texas golfer; and Travis Woolf, a former Texas Christian golfer.

Others notable participants include: Stuart Anderson, a 2012 Web.com Tour member; T.J. Bordeaux, a BWS winner and four-time Big West All-Conference selection at the University of Pacific; Major Manning, a former Web.com Tour member; Nick Rousey, a former All-American at Alabama and 2013 Web.com Tour member; Jack Newman, the 2008 U.S. Public Links champion; and multi-time NGA TOUR winner Mark Blakefield.

There will also be a large contingent of Georgia golfers hoping to keep the $28,000 winner’s check in state. David Denham (St. Simons Island), Wade Holland (Fayetteville), Jon David Kennedy (Hawkinsville), Jay McLuen (Athens), Brett Munson (Evans), Greg Newberry (Lawrenceville) and Gator Todd (St. Simons Island) will all be in the field this week.

The first round of the Spring Hill Classic is scheduled to start on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 a.m. As always, admission is free to the public.

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