Williams masters back nine at Alabama Open

Putting was Lee Williams’ strong point this week at Ballantrae Golf Course, as the Alexander City native shot 16-under par to win the Alabama Open.

“I putted great, which was the key to me winning,” Williams said. “In professional golf, 99 percent of the time it comes down to who makes the most putts. You can hit it to 10 feet all day and if you don’t make any of the putts, then you shoot even par.”

Williams birdied 10-13 to enter the back nine holes in Sunday’s final round, pushing him to five-under par for the day and 15-under for the tournament. He went on to birdie 17 and par 18 to run away with the win.

“I don’t know if (the back nine) fits me better or what, but for some reason I played that nine real good all week,” said Williams, who was one stroke under par coming out of the front nine holes each day.

The win, worth $12,000, is Williams’ first of the year and eclipses his winnings of $10,424 so far this year on the Tarheel Tour in North Carolina.

“It’s always great when you win close to home. This is the first time my parents and (wife) Emily have seen me play all year, because I haven’t been anywhere close to home,” Williams said.

Williams, a former All-American at Auburn University and two-time U.S. team member in the Walker Cup, has been on a hot streak recently, finishing eighth and sixth the previous two weeks on the Tarheel Tour. He now hopes to make his way onto the PGA Nationwide Tour when he attempts to qualify at the Wichita Open in Kansas Aug. 7-10.

“I’m hoping I can get in the Nationwide event and keep the momentum going,” Williams said.

Other than Williams’ 16-under shooting for the tournament, the tournament highlight was top amateur Robson Copenhaver’s course record 64 on Saturday. The 8-under par score pushed him to the front of the amateurs. He held on to shoot a 71 on Sunday to finish fifth overall.