Mitch Hufstetler Completes Sweep of Senior TPC Events – Wins Senior TPC 1-up Over Tom Baird

Mitch Hufstetler Completes Sweep of Senior TPC Events – Wins Senior TPC 1-up Over Tom Baird

by

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

Bob Gary

 

The 2014 Chattanooga TPC Senior final wasn’t the first time this year that Mitch Hufstetler and Tom Baird went to the wire.

Back in August, Hufstetler birdied the 36th hole to edge Baird for the Brainerd Invitational Senior title. Oct. 5 at Council Fire, Hufstetler watched Baird lip out a birdie putt at the 18th, then two-putted himself for a 1-up victory and the TPC senior crown.

Hufstetler’s win capped a perfect TPC season – he won senior championships in the Signal Mountain, Cleveland, North Georgia and Brainerd invitationals; the Chattanooga Men’s Metro and, finally the TPC.

“There really are no words,” Hufstetler said. “I managed to play some pretty good golf at pretty good times. Very fortunate, and Tom’s such a class guy.”

MitchHufstetler

2014 Senior Champion Mitch Hufstetler
(You Name It, He Won It)

When Baird birdied the first and fifth holes for a 2-up lead, it looked as though he might well extract a measure of revenge for Brainerd and deny Hufstetler his slice of local golf history.

“And I missed a couple of makeable putts in there,” said Baird.

Having spent his whole season in or near leads, though, Hufstetler stayed cool.

“Just keep pluggin’, keep playing,” he said. “I was hitting it fair, hitting some good shots – and then I made a really good putt at seven.

“When that one went in,” he said, “I thought, ‘OK, game on.’”

That putt, from about 25 feet above the hole, gave Hufstetler a birdie and his first win of the day. He then won the eighth with a sporty up-and-down to pull even.

After halving the ninth, Hufstetler took his first lead with a win at the 10th. He promptly gave that hole back at the 11th, though, where his drive hit the cart path and rocketed out of bounds.

The same sequence played out again at 13 and 14 – Hufstetler won the par-5 13th, but missed a short par putt to drop the par-3 14th.

The two halved the 15th, but Hufstetler got what turned out to be the decisive win at the 16th – he lipped out a long birdie putt that he called “one of the best I ever hit.” It didn’t go in, but it was good enough when Baird failed to get up-and-down from just short of the green.

Faced with a gut check at the par-3 17th, Baird center-cut a 10-footer to stay in the match. He needed another win at 18 to extend the match again, but just missed from 40 feet.

“I just didn’t play from the fairway enough today,” Baird said. “Mitch is a very good ball-striker; you can’t give him holes because he’s sure not going to give you very many.

“He’s a worthy champion and, hey – I’m 60, so if I’m still upright when I’m done playing, I’m pretty happy,” Baird said.

His perfect TPC season complete, Hufstetler’s only problem now is what to do with all the stuff he’s won.

“I’ve got about 13 dozen [golf balls] and about 26 gloves – not counting the five or six in my bag,” he said.

What he probably doesn’t have is more shirts.

“Cleaned out the closet last spring and got rid of probably 60 – but I still had 30 or so,” Hufstetler said. “So my wife says, ‘If you bring home another shirt ….’”