COLUMBUS, Ga. - Defending champion Russell Henley of Macon shot 4-under-par 67 to break a 36-hole tie with past champion David Noll Jr. of Dalton and hold a three-stroke lead at 12-under-par 201 over 2007 champion Harris English of Thomasville heading into the final round of the 88th annual Georgia Amateur Championship, taking place at Country Club of Columbus, July 9-12.
English, who trailed the co-leaders by three strokes entering the third round, charged back with a 67 of his own to move into second position. Reigning Georgia Mid-Amateur champion Jeff Knox of Augusta, who was fifth entering the day, also turned in a 67 to move into third position in the standings and a secure a spot in the final grouping for the last round. Knox trails Henley by four strokes at 8-under 205.
After a roller-coaster type of round, Noll dropped back to a tie for fourth with first-round leader Michael Green of Augusta after shooting 1-over-par 72 on Saturday. Green finished 1-under-71 for the day as both now sit at 7-under-par 206 for the Championship.
Mark Strickland of Woodstock carded his best round of the tournament, 3-under 68, to move up to a tie for sixth with Brian Carter of Evans and Wright Waddell of Columbus at 4-under 209. Waddell, who leads the contingent of local golfers competing in the Championship, also fired a 68 while Carter, who will join the University of Georgia golf team this fall, turned in a 69.
Recent Georgia Tech graduate Taylor Hall of LaGrange is tied for ninth at 2-under 211 with Adam Cooper of Columbus.
Henley quickly broke the deadlock with Noll with four birdies over his first six holes. Noll, meanwhile, was heading the opposite direction with bogeys on holes 2 and 4, but managed one birdie on the front side (No. 9) to turn at 1-over 37. Henley, however, turned with a 32 for a five-stroke difference between the leaders over the outward nine.
Henley's pace slowed somewhat on the back, as he suffered bogeys on holes 11 and 14, but both times he responded with birdies (13 and 15) to remain at 12 under par for the tournament. Noll got off to a rough start on the back - bogey at 10 and double-bogey at 11 - but rallied with three birdies over the last seven holes to remain in contention.
English, meanwhile, also made a back-nine charge. After turning a 1-under for the day (6-under for the Championship), English carded birdies on 10, 11, 14 and 17 with a lone bogey on 16 to move to 9-under.
Final round tee times begin at 8:25 a.m. off holes 1 and 10, with the leaders going off from No. 1 at 10:20 a.m. This marks the second straight year and English and Henley have battled for the Georgia Amateur title. In 2008 at Idle Hour Club in Macon, the two University of Georgia teammates competed in the final pairing with Noll. Henley edged English by one stroke for the title