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Kountakis, Shead to play in Palmetto Amateur

Posted: August 2, 2017 - 2:02am
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Alex Shead of Appling (left) is making his first appearance this week in the Palmetto Amateur. He shot 1-under 69 in Monday’s qualifier to earn a spot in the 84-player field.

Two Columbia County residents will tee up today in the 42nd annual Palmetto Amateur golf tournament.

The 72-hole event runs through Saturday at Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken. The 84-player field will be cut to the low 40 and ties after the conclusion of Thursday's play.

Emmanuel Kountakis, who recently finished his collegiate career at Augusta University, will try to claim his second Palmetto Amateur title. In 2014, the former Lakeside High School standout posted a 9-under-par total for a four-shot victory over Clemson's Billy Kennerly, who's now on the Web.com Tour.

Kountakis has had a solid 2017 season. In May, he fired rounds of 69-66-66 to win the MEAC Tournament at Crosswinds Golf Club in Savannah, Ga. He posted a 15-under-par 201 total to defeat his teammate, Broc Everett, by three shots. In July, Kountakis was the low local finisher in the Georgia Amateur Championship at West Lake Country Club, finishing sixth. Last month, Kountakis lost in a playoff to Hunter Dunagan in the Augusta City Amateur championship at Forest Hills Golf Club.

Kountakis is likely making his final appearance in the Palmetto Amateur. He plans to graduate in December and then turn professional in 2018.

While Kountakis was exempt into the tournament, Shead played his way into the Palmetto Amateur. In Monday's qualifier, he tied with four others for first place at 1-under-par 69 to earn a spot in the event.

Shead, who will begin his Augusta University golf career in a few weeks, is a recent homeschool graduate. Ranked No. 164 in the latest American Junior Golf Association rankings, Shead tied for fifth at the E-Z-GO Vaughn Taylor Championship last month at Jones Creek Golf Club.

Many of the players in the field are college golfers, representing institutions from Alabama to Florida State to Georgia to Kentucky to South Carolina. There are older players in the field as well, like 2005 NCAA Division II Player of the Year Dane Burkhart. The 32-year-old golfer won the Palmetto Amateur in 2005.

The late Robert S. "Skipper" Perry Jr. is this year's recipient of the Hitchcock-Whitney Award. Perry served more than 30 years as co-chairman of the Palmetto Amateur, transforming it from a local tournament to a prestigious event sought out by regional, national and international amateur players.

The Palmetto Golf Club was founded in 1892 by Thomas Hitchcock. Forty years later, Dr. Alister MacKenzie converted the Palmetto sand greens to grass and lengthened the course.

Palmetto Golf Club is the oldest, continuously operated 18-hole golf course in the Southeast.

 

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