published Friday, August 19th, 2011

Walters tops Harris in playoff

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    Ron Waters watches the ball Thursday at Council FIre Golf Course.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
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Steve Golliher congratulated Doug Harris as those two and Ron Waters shook hands on the 18th green of Council Fire Golf Club.

But Harris couldn't accept.

"Ron caught me," Harris uttered.

Waters did so with drama by scoring an eagle on the last hole of the Tennessee Senior Amateur championship.

About 30 minutes, and three playoff holes later, Harris offered his congratulations to Waters who claimed his first senior championship in his first senior tournament.

Buzz Fly finished third at 1 under par. Golliher and Larry Dupree tied for fourth at even. Tom Baird of Signal Mountain tied for eighth at 4 over to lead the local contingent. Jim Nancarrow won the super-senior division at 7 over.

"I'm very pleased with the way it turned out," Waters said, cradling the trophy in its box. "Doug didn't play as well today as he did in the first two rounds. If he had, I wouldn't have had a chance. It's a good feeling to be able to pull it off."

Waters shot a 1-under 71 while Harris -- who had a share of the lead after Tuesday and owned it after Wednesday -- shot a 2-over 74 which tied them at 3 under for the tournament.

Harris parred the first 14 holes before consecutive bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 which shrank his lead to one heading to No. 17. There, he chunked his tee shot, but chipped up close to save par while Waters bogeyed the 173-yard hole leaving Harris with a two-shot lead heading to the last.

"I made 14 straight pars and missed a couple of opportunities early," Harris said. "You just know it's going to get you."

Harris hit a hybrid off the tee on the 54th hole of the tournament, then laid up to about 100 yards from where he made a par.

On the same hole, Waters hit driver about 300 yards leaving him 201 yards to the hole. He faded a 4-iron to within 12 feet of the flag and rolled in the eagle putt to force a sudden-death playoff.

"He made the shots down the stretch that he had to," Harris said. "I didn't execute. It's bugged me all year -- not being able to make anything."

Harris and Waters both parred No. 1 in the playoff. They both birdied No. 2 with Harris laying up off the tee, again from the fairway then wedging a shot to within two feet while Waters blasted a drive then a 5-iron before two-putting.

Hole No. 3, a 361-yard dog-leg right with a huge tree guarding short approaches or anything right off the tee, proved to be the final hole.

Harris' hybrid shot put the tee in between he and the green. His approach flew the bail-out area. Waters hit a perfect drive and his approach nestled to the middle of the green.

Waters, the head coach at Division III Maryville College, putted twice.

And he won with par.

"I can't put the trophy in my office because it's so small that I have to walk in sideways," Waters joked. "But we'll find a good place for it. And the next time I send out [recruiting letters] it might have an attachment."

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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