That’s why it’s only fitting that Noll now sits atop the leaderboard at 4-under 138, after the conclusion of Friday’s second round at Pinetree Country Club.
Noll, who is bidding to become only the fifth player to win three or more titles in the 92-year history of the event, carded an even par-71 on the 7,108-yard course. He finished with three birdies and three bogeys, getting as low as 6-under overall through 14 holes before consecutive bogeys at Nos. 6 and 7 left him at 4-under.
Noll holds a three-shot lead over Chatsworth’s David Watts and Kennesaw State golfer Kelby Burton. Watts shot 72 on Friday, while Burton shot 70. Georgia golfer Mookie DeMoss (71) is even for the tournament.
Four others are 1-over, while seven are tied at 2-over.
While it’s no surprise that Noll has the overall lead, having won his first Georgia Amateur in 2003 at this same Pinetree course, defending champion Knox was one of 66 golfers who failed to make the cut. Knox got off to a bad start Thursday with a 5-over 76, and things got even worse when he returned to shoot 78 on Friday.
Watts, on the other hand, feels as though he’s “in a groove.”
After opening his round with a bogey, he followed up with four birdies over his next six holes and was 5-under at the turn. He extended the margin with a birdie at the par-3 12th, but ran into some trouble at 15 and 16 with a bogey and quadruple bogey, respectively.
While the ending wasn’t much to his liking, Watts likes the way he’s going around the course.
“My round was flawless in my eyes,” he said. “You’re going to get a bad hole now and again, but you don’t want to have a lot of bad holes. I hung in there with more birdies than bogeys and then got in trouble at 16.
“That happens, but, overall, I’m playing well and I’ve played well the past two days, and I’m near the top of the leaderboard.”
Watts admitted he hasn’t been in this position much before and looked forward to playing with Burton and Noll in today’s third round.
“The only real good tournament I’ve had was one during my senior year of high school,” Watts said. “I won that one by seven shots. I hadn’t played in a whole lot of other big tournaments, so this is a new feeling. I don’t look at the board when I’m out there. I keep my head down and try to minimize mistakes.
“I feel like I can play with anybody out there this weekend. I’m excited to go against Noll and Burton. It’s always fun to play against good players.”