published Monday, August 13th, 2012

Christiana Schmidt claims win at Cleveland Invitational

Christiana Schmidt raced to her dad as he walked off the 18th green and wrapped her arms around him as tight as possible.

She'd heard about past victories by Chris Schmidt.

But Christiana — clad in a bright outfit and Titleist visor — had never seen one until Sunday at Cleveland Country Club when the sixth-grader saw Schmidt best some of the best amateurs in the greater Chattanooga area.

"I think she's more excited than I am," Schmidt said, after signing his scorecard and posing for pictures with the Cleveland Invitational championship trophy.

Schmidt shot a 7-under-par 137 over two days to beat runner-up Matt Robertson by two shots with precise play with his irons, going back to an old putter, and some pre-tournament advice from Gibby Gilbert II.

In addition to the change in equipment, Schmidt also altered his approach to putting with advice from Gilbert who has been playing and working with Schmidt for about six years.

"He's kind of done it and seen it before," Schmidt said of Gilbert, who tied for second in the 1980 Masters. "He has a lot of wisdom, and I really look up to him. I pick his brain constantly.

"I probably bother him by asking so many questions."

Robertson shot a 1-under 71 and tied with Nick West and Jimmy White III to claim the runner-up title.

Tennessee Wesleyan golf and basketball coach Mike Poe won the senior division at 4-over 150. He topped Mike Jenkins, Ronnie Law and Gary Baldwin by one stroke.

Schmidt's daughter missed him winning the Signal Mountain Invitational earlier this year because she was vacationing in Florida.

"She's starting in the game, and hopefully she learned a few things," Schmidt said. "It's a big deal to me for her to be here."

Three of the four in the final group struggled early on Sunday White and West fell out of contention. Schmidt bogeyed his first two holes and fell three strokes behind Robertson through six holes.

They made the turn with Robertson holding a two-shot lead. The scoreboard changed on the par-5 10th where a creek crosses the fairway in front of the green.

Robertson found it after a drive into the rough and took a penalty resulting in a bogey. Schmidt reached in two and scored an eagle.

That was a three-shot swing on one hole.

"I was one down and it wasn't like the tournament was over," Robertson said. "I had eight holes left. Nothing hurt until No. 13."

Robertson made a double-bogey on the par-3 13th which plays about 225 yards. Schmidt parred it for a three-shot lead.

"I hit a 4-iron in the rough and you can't hit it in the rough," Robertson said. "I've played with him so many times that I know he's not going to make mistakes and I have to beat him. Once I give him the lead, with four to play, he's not going to give me openings."

But Schmidt did open his arms to embrace Christiana.

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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