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Amateur Wilson pockets Hilton Head Open triumph

It seemed the only thing that might stop Colby Wilson on Sunday was Mother Nature. And even she was unable to do that.Wilson shot his second straight 3-under-par 69 at Hampton Hall Golf Club to win the Hilton Head Open. He finished 6 under for the event, just enough to hold off Franklin Newell by a stroke after the Chechessee Creek director of golf fired a tournament-best 65.It was the first tournament victory for the 25-year-old Wilson since he was in high school, he said. It also was the first time an amateur has won this event since Don Taylor went home as the 2001 champion.But the win came only after the wet weather that has hampered the region in recent days once again emerged to force an hour-long delay shortly after the leaders teed off. Play resumed at about 4:30 p.m., or more than two hours after Newell had signed a card that gave him the clubhouse lead over first-round leaders Evan Jeffords, Jeff Wong, Chris Marinaro and Tony Branham. None of that quartet, however, was able to break par Sunday, with Wong posting a 73 for the best score among that group.But that wasn’t going to be nearly enough to win the tournament, not with Newell having posted a bogey-free round that saw him go out with a 32, including a string of three straight birdies. He played the back side error free to card a personal best tournament score.“I’ve had good rounds and let them slip away,” said the 45-year-old Newell, who has played in the Hilton Head Open 15 times since moving to the area 20 years ago. “But this one I hung onto.”Still it wasn’t enough to keep pace with Wilson, who began the day one stroke off the lead.A native of Los Angeles who moved to the Lowcountry less than a year ago, Wilson was even par through his first four holes before making back-to-back birdies. His second birdie was set up by a drive on the 412-yard, par-4 sixth hole that twice bounced off the cartpath to set up an easy 50-yard pitch. Wilson capped off his round by sticking a 4-iron on the par-3 17th to 4 feet before making an 8-foot downhill slider on his final hole to clinch the win.“I’ve never like won, I’ve done well (in tournaments like this),” Wilson said. “And I haven’t won in awhile, so this is kind of nice.”

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