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Brendon Wilson's heart-rate increased a bit.
His hands became and little greasy and his forearms a little shaky on Sunday afternoon at Council Fire Golf Club.
Such is the case when a golfer stands on the 17th tee with 2-up lead in the final match of Chattanooga TPC, which is the season-ending area amateur championship open only to those who accrued enough points through the season
The nerves got the best of Wilson who lost to Brandon Cissom in 19 holes.
"I just don't play enough tournaments, and I haven't been there lately," said Wilson, who played in just two tournaments in the spring before injuries hurt him this summer. "You have to put yourself in position where you're comfortable."
Golf is often a cruel game. As a member of the gallery reminded the rest assembled to watch, golfers are masochistic bunch.
Wilson, who reached the finals by beating Chris Schmidt 3 and 2 in the morning, led the finals after the winning the third hole and remained in control of the match with Cissom until the final hole of regulation.
His drives were straight and long, about 290 yards into the wind and about 330 yards with it at his back. His approach shots hit the green or came close. Wilson winced after striking an approach on No. 15 only to see it hit the green. His chipping was spot-on, and he saved a halve on No. 9 when he chipped-in for birdie.
Wilson's putting, with the butt of the club anchored in his chest, had been smooth all week, and on Sunday when he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 16 to go 2-up.
"Brendon hit it better than me all day, and I feel like he had control of the match for the entire day," said Cissom, who beat Mitch Hufstetler 5 and 4 in the morning semifinals. "And I just hung in there, never gave up."
The finalists stepped to the 17th tee knowing the situation. Cissom had to win two straight holes to get in a playoff. It seemed like a long-shot considering Wilson birdied six of the first 16 holes.
But he pulled a tee shot on the par-3 17th and failed to get up-and-down to lose the hole.
On the par-5 18th they both reached the green in two. They had similar putting lines with Wilson away. Cissom two-putted for birdie. Wilson three-putted for par resulting in a sudden-death playoff.
The death turned out to be very sudden.
Cissom crushed his drive down the middle. Wilson stepped up next and sliced his drive out of bounds right into a manicured backyard.
Wilson looked at Cissom and said one word.
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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