Gabe George is not from Columbia, but he plays as if he has a home-course advantage.
George, of Salisbury, won the Coca-Cola Jr. Championship last month in Columbia in the first year he participated in the event.
George said he thinks if he shoots under par today in the second round of the Tiger Junior Golf Classic at Columbia Country Club, he could win another Columbia tournament.
George said he has done well this summer on courses he doesn’t normally play.
“(Knowing the course) matters on some courses,” George said. “This one’s not too long. On a couple of holes it’s good to know how they play, though.
“You have to place your shots well.”
The tournament, which began Monday, features junior golfers ages 8-17.
George, 17, shot a 6-over par 77 in the first round to finish second in the 16-17 age division. Will Call, of Jefferson City, leads George by two strokes. Alex Wulff, of Sedalia, is in third with a 78.
Landon Willett, of Columbia, shot 81 to finish third in the 14-15 division.
George said he had an up-and-down day. He was either recovering from bad shots or ruining good ones.
On the 12th hole, George sliced his tee shot.
“I was behind a tree and all I could do was hit my sand wedge,” he said.
He laid up twice more with his sand wedge and somehow he saved par.
“I landed one in the middle of the green and was fortunate to one-putt,” he said.
The 17th hole was the opposite for George.
“I stuck one pretty close to the pin off the tee,” he said.
George missed the putt, though, and had to take another par.
George said he thinks he has a chance at winning.
“I hope to shoot a lot lower (today),” he said. “It’s possible for me to shoot under par on this course.”
Perry Fischer, tournament director, said most of the scores were higher than usual because of the weather.
“The wind was pretty shifty,” he said, “making it difficult at times to judge distance.”
Fischer said he thinks play will improve today.
“I expect the scores to be a little better,” he said. “The kids will know the course better and understand where the hazards are.
“Any kids with nerves or jitters should be more relaxed.”
George said even though he will know the course better today, he needs to make better putts to improve his score.
“I need to keep the ball in play and give myself an opportunity for birdies,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens.”
Fischer said this year’s tournament was the smoothest in his three years as the director. He said he expects today to be a repeat of Monday.