Justin Connelly won the East Lake Classic
By Doug Gorman
W hen Justin Connelly stepped on the course Tuesday at East Lake Country Club, he could have let himself get caught up in the moment.
After all, East Lake Country Club is the oldest course in Atlanta, rich in history, and one of those places any golfer would love to play just one time.
However, Connelly, who attends Union Grove High School, shook off any nerves he might have had and cruised to the two-round victory, firing a 69 on the last day of the tournament to win the Georgia PGA East Lake Classic going away.
It was good enough for a 5-under par finish. Connelly was the only golfer to finish under par as he rolled to the five-shot win.
East Lake is the site of the Tour Championship, the final tournament for the PGA where only the top 30 on the money list get to play.
"It was pretty special to think that the game's best will be playing out here later this year," he said.
Tuesday, however, Connelly wasn't thinking about the past greats of the game like Bobby Jones, who called East Lake home, or modern day pros like Phil Mickelson, he just wanted to turn in a solid round.
He did just that.
Connelly had never played East Lake until this week's tournament, but once it got underway, his golfing instincts simply took over.
Armed with only a yardage book to navigate the course, Connelly let his irons do the talking en route to his win.
"I think I hit all but about two fairways," he said. "This is the first time I have ever finished under par in a tournament."
The first round of the tournament was played on the Charlie Yates course, made up primarily of par threes. Connelly finished with a 59 on the course for 3-under par.
On the big East Lake course, he had five birdies to pace his 2-under par afternoon.
Joshua Crews and Aaron DeSilva finished tied for second.
Stockbridge's Kevin Gomez was 7 over par, finishing in a four-way tie for 16.
McDonough's Tyler Duke finished in a three-way tie for 29th after shooting a 12-over par. McDonough's Brett Ammons was tied for 33rd with a 14-over par and Mitchell Nowacki was tied for 50th at 19 over par.