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Robertson Coasts to Metro Title, Hufstetler Senior Champion

Robertson Coasts to Metro Title, Hufstetler Senior Champion


Bob Gary, Contributing Editor, http://www.ifyoulikegolf.com

Bob Gary

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The 2014 Chattanooga Men’s Metro Amateur golf championship had at least a couple of things in common with June’s U.S. Open.


For one thing, both championships were conducted on Donald Ross-designed courses – the Open at Pinehurst No. 2, and the Metro at Brainerd Golf Course. And for another, the final rounds of each were almost completely devoid of drama.


German Martin Kaymer led the Open by five heading into the final round and won by eight. Matt Robertson started Sunday’s Metro finale only one clear of rising UTC sophomore Brooks Thomas, but quickly got separation and wound up coasting to his own eight-shot win.


The Senior Division, on the other hand, had drama to spare. It looked as though Mitch Hufstetler’s win streak in Chattanooga TPC events would be snapped at three, but he was there to pick up the pieces – and that fourth straight title – when four-time Metro champion Pat Corey faltered at Saturday’s final hole.


Robertson posted Sunday’s best round, a 4-under-par 66, and finished three rounds at 12-under-par 198. Thomas (73 in the final round) finished second at 4-under-par 206. Jay Potter (73), Keoni Vidrine (68) and David Watts (68) tied for third at 208.


On Saturday, Hufstetler tacked a 70 onto his opening 69 for a 1-under-par 139. Corey, who opened with 67, closed with 73 for 140.


Robertson actually got his first bit of cushion from Thomas, who dropped three shots in the first four holes. Robertson then hit the gas, making four straight birdies and padding his margin to nearly double-digits.


Robertson’s pursuers got a fleeting glimmer of hope at the turn. The leader caught a terrible break at the par-4 ninth, where his tee ball came to rest against a stick. Moving the stick would have caused the ball to move, and a penalty, so Robertson did what he could to advance the ball. His second came up short of the green, made bogey, and Thomas made birdie to get two shots back.


Then, at the 10th, Robertson stubbed his toe to the point that he faced a 14-foot par putt. He poured it in, though, and effectively resolved the issue.


“I just tried to keep sticking to my routine [after the early bogeys],” Thomas said. “You never know what could happen, but [Robertson] played solid.”


Robertson said going so quickly from a one-shot lead to nearly lapping the field necessitated a change in approach.

Matt Robertson

2014 Men’s Metro Champion Matt Robertson


“All I tried to do was just play the shot I had in front of me,” he said. “Just play those shots, play each hole, and make them come and get me.”


Robertson, who works in Brainerd GC’s shop, celebrated his win by clocking in for the rest of the day – “Hey, he was off the last two days,” deadpanned shop manager Edwin Prichard.


Robertson readily conceded that his affiliation with Brainerd GC made his triumph there all the more sweet.


“It means a lot,” said the 33-year-old Meigs Co. native. “There’s more pressure on your home course, but I have a great job here and play with a lot of good guys. And the golf course – guys who’ve been here 30 years were telling me that they’ve never seen it better.”


Having added his Metro win to prior senior wins in this year’s Cleveland, Signal Mountain and North Georgia invitationals, Hufstetler is now just a Brainerd Invitational victory away from a sort of “Senior Slam” – victories in all five Chattanooga TPC events, and all in his first year in the 55-plus crowd.


Aon Miller


But don’t think that translates to anything even vaguely resembling pressure.


“This ain’t pressure,” he said. “This is fun. If you can’t have fun playing golf, you shouldn’t play.”


Turning for home on Saturday, Hufstetler birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th holes but still couldn’t quite catch Corey. Standing on the 18th tee, Corey led Hufstetler by two. When Corey found trouble left off the tee, Hufstetler thought he still had a puncher’s chance.


“I’d hit it left Friday, so I knew it’d be tough for Pat to make par,” Hufstetler said. “I thought that a birdie would give me an outside shot.”


But Hufstetler not only didn’t have to go extra holes, but wound up with the outright win.


“I hated it for Pat, because he’s a very good player who’s won a lot of tournaments,” Hufstetler said.


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