published Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Waters making a run at State Senior Amateur

Some birthdays are dreaded and some can't come quick enough.

For amateur golfers, the 55th birthday is a reason to celebrate. They move into the senior division for all the competitions they desire and move up a tee box just a little closer to the hole.

Ron Waters of Alcoa is enjoying being 55-years-old. He shot a tournament-best 5-under-par 67 in the second round of the Tennessee Senior Amateur on Wednesday which has him tied for second place heading into the final round.

"I'm a rookie in this league, so I'm enjoying that," said Waters, who is 2 under for the tournament. "55 is one of those old birthdays you look forward to."

Waters is tied with Buzz Fly of Memphis and Steve Golliher of Knoxville. They trail Doug Harris of Franklin by three strokes.

Harris shot 3-under on Tuesday and a 2-under 70 on Wednesday at Council Fire Golf Club. He made three birdies and a bogey in the second round.

"I was trying to play whatever the hole could give me," said Harris, who plays out of the Governor's Club in Brentwood which is an Arnold Palmer course.

His first-round co-leader, Wes Gilliland, slipped in the standings on Tuesday. Gilliland, a member at Council Fire, followed a 69 with a 79 including a double-bogey on the par-5 No. 6 and a triple-bogey on the par-5 18th. They more than canceled out his three birdies.

"It was just ugly," Gilliland said. "Even [brother] Hunt left after seeing one shot."

Golf has helped Waters, coach of NCAA Division III Maryville College, see different parts of the world. He's played on vacations to England, Scotland and Ireland.

In 2000, he also represented the Tennessee Golf Association in the International Team Matches which was played in Lima, Peru. It's a tournament he'll never forget.

"Where we were was a dangerous area," said Waters, who made no bogeys and five birdies on Wednesday. "They shuttled us to the golf course and back to an elaborate hotel. We ate five-course meals every day.

"That was a great experience."

Since then, Waters has retired from teaching Heritage High School in Maryville. He underwent back surgery a little more than a year ago. During his re-hab he focused on regaining strength and his golf game.

"My whole thing was to be healthy enough to play like I wanted to at 55-years-old," Waters said.

He accomplished that goal, at least for a day, on Wednesday.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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