Literally throwing caution to the wind, Charlotte’s Jay Barnes managed to hold on in cold, blustery conditions to claim a one-shot victory in the Championship division of the Golfweek Amateur Tour Championship at the new Atlantic Dunes course at Sea Pines Resort.
Barnes took a four-shot lead into the final day and opted to continue playing his usual high tee shots despite a constant 15 mph wind and temperatures in the low 50s. The result was a 4-over-par 76, but it still left him one stroke ahead of Joe Jaspers and Zach McKelvey.
“That’s just my game, and I didn’t want to try to make any adjustments,” Barnes said. “I knew I just needed to hit an extra club or two to make up for (the wind).”
The tournament originally was scheduled for October but was pushed back three weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew’s damage to the Hilton Head Island.
Jaspers, a five-time champion in the event, took a two-shot lead to the 17th tee before a double bogey left them even heading to the final hole. Barnes’ tee shot found a hazard, and Jaspers’ went out of bounds, giving Barnes the advantage with two putts from 20 feet to win.
When Jaspers missed his long bogey putt, Barnes tapped in to clean up a winning bogey.
“Joe and I play together all the time on this tourn, so we know each other real well,” Barnes said. “I felt bad for Joe, but he’s won this tournament before, so I won’t feel too bad.”
Jaspers, of Huntersville, N.C., carded a closing 73. McKelvey, of Rutherfordton, N.C., also carded a 73, battling back from a rough start to give himself a chance at forcing a playoff. His long birdie attempt, though, never really offered a chance.
Two other divisions went to playoffs before deciding a winner. Michael Skeen (Little Rock, Ark.) prevailed in the B flight, and Michael Martin (Raleigh, N.C.) captured the D flight. Michigan entrants John Mellen (A flight) and Michelle Gillan (C flight) won the other divisions.