Matt Robertson turned to the other two guys in his group and told them that if he could get just one birdie putt to drop, it would start a cascade of under-par scores.
That putt finally dropped Tuesday on No. 10 at Creeks Bend, and he continued by making seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch that propelled him to victory in the Ira Templeton Chattanooga Open.
Robertson shot a 4-under-par 66 with seven birdies, a par and a bogey in his final nine holes. The former Lee University golfer finished with an 8-under 132 for the two rounds in Hixson.
“The front side was real frustrating because I made a long putt on No. 1, and that’s usually a good sign,” Robertson said. “Then I made that putt on No. 10, and I started making putts including four birdies in a row.”
Chattanooga Golf and Country Club assistant professional Matt Brock was second at 5 under but collected the big check awarded to pros. Springbrook Country Club head pro Craig Lee tied for third at 4 under with Nashville amateur Andrew Jacobson, who held the first-day lead.
“I taught Matt to make two birdies,” Lee said. “The other five he’s learned on his own.”
Robertson played at Springbrook during high school at Meigs County and while playing for the Flames.
“I could get seven birdies in nine holes while goofing around with friends back in the day,” Robertson said. “I can’t say I’ve done it in a tournament.”
He can now.
Brock also shot a 66 in an adventurous second round that included eight birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey. Jacobson never found the rhythm Tuesday that helped him shoot 65 the day before. He closed with a 1 over while watching Robertson make birdie after birdie.
“I just didn’t get anything going, and when that happens you start questioning yourself. Hence the 71,” Jacobson said. “Matt was knocking it close and tapping in. We both feel we can birdie every hole out here.
“He just put a streak together.”
Mark Houser also has something to brag about. The senior pro from Warriors Path State Park zipped around Creeks Bend in just 62 shots Tuesday. He made eight birdies with five coming on the back nine to win the senior division at 9 under, two shots better than Riceville amateur Bob Rice. Area amateurs Wes Gilliland and Mike Poe tied for third at 2 under.
“It got pretty good there on the back,” Houser said. “I’ve been close to playing good. On the fifth hole, I hit it close and kept hitting it close, leaving me with a good run of 10-12-footers. It was fun. It’s been a couple years since I’ve gone that low.
“I’ve just never broken that barrier of 62.”