After what he said was a less than stellar spring Fred Roberts IV was looking for a measure of redemption last weekend when he kicked off his summer golf schedule by winning the Savannah Amateur Golf Championship at the Bacon Park
Golf Course. Coming off a disappointing 50th place finish in the recent NCAA Division III national championship the former Richmond Hill High School standout shot a six-under par course record equalling 65 on Sunday to edge Savannah College of Art and Design player Alejandro Guillen to claim the title with a two-day total of 133.
Roberts, a rising junior at Piedmont University in DeMorest, Ga., was ranked as the No. 3 player in DIII last fall by GolfStat when he had a 72.0 average for the Lions.
“Last fall I finished in the top 10 in four of six tournaments,” Roberts said. “I was expecting to have a good spring. It was disappointing.” The 65 was Roberts’ best competitive round in college or high school. His previous low was 66 at Ford Plantation his senior season when he led the Wildcats to their first ever dual match win over Glynn Academy.
As a junior Roberts helped Richmond Hill make the GHSA Class 6A state tournament for the first time in school history. The Wildcats also advanced to state his senior season.
Despite his misgivings Roberts had a solid season for the Lions who made their first trip ever to the NCAA Division III tournament after winning the USA South Conference championship for the first time. Piedmont was 13th in the 37-team field.
In 17 rounds Roberts, a member of the Richmond Hill Golf Club, broke or equaled par five times.
He had his low round of 69 at the Jekyll Island Invitational. He followed that with a solid 72 only to sky to an 82 in the third round. That is his only round in the 80s at Piedmont.
Roberts was solid at the Savannah Am and he is hoping that serves as a springboard to a big summer. Starting the day three shots back of Guillen the smooth swinging lefthander birdied five of his first six holes and it was game on. With two holes to play Roberts had a threeshot lead. A bogey on 17 trimmed it to two and Guillen birdied No. 18 forcing Roberts to make a three-footer for par and the win.
“I’ve choked away a lot of tournaments,” Roberts said. “I had to give myself a chance to win and I did. It feels good to finally win one.”
Next up is the 80th Monroe Invitational in Pittsford, N.Y., which is one of the more elite summer college tournaments. Past winners include Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson. After that he plans to play in the U.S. Amateur qualifier in Rochester, N.Y.
Roberts gave special thanks to Alex Puchales, who is director of the Richmond Hill Golf Academy, and his father along with Piedmont Coach J.P. Kircher for helping him develop his game. Puchales specializes in working with youth golfers and he was a volunteer assistant coach at Richmond Hill when Roberts was playing. Roberts said should he not qualify for the U.S. Am he would play in the Georgia Open qualifier.