published Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

State junior starts today at Black Creek

Black Creek Club has a reputation for welcoming junior golfers, and it is the home course for the Baylor School golf teams.

Golfers from McCallie, Notre Dame, Walker Valley, Chattanooga Christian and other high schools across the state -- from Memphis to Bristol -- will compete, without school affiliations, for the Tennessee Junior Amateur Championship beginning today at 8 a.m.

"We always love supporting junior golf, because it's the foundation of all golf," Black Creek head professional Todd McKittrick said. "Any time you can see folks compete at the highest level for that group, it's exciting.

"It should be a good test and fair to the golfers to determine the champion."

McCallie senior Andrew Weathers has played and practiced the last two weeks at Black Creek. His home course, Council Fire, is closed for renovations to its greens, so he's spent almost all of his golfing hours at Black Creek playing, pitching, chipping and putting to improve his chances of winning the three-day tournament.

"I think playing this tournament here gives me an advantage because I know the greens and everything like that," Weathers said Monday, while practicing with senior teammate Chase White and Baylor junior Danny Gleeson.

"There's a lot of good players from Chattanooga in this tournament who have familiarity with the course," Weathers said. "And I think Chattanooga kids are good."

Weathers is among about a dozen area golfers in the field of 72 competing to be the best in Tennessee.

The TSSAA championships divide players by their school classification and play in different conditions. Two of the four recent state champions will be participating: Class A/AA champion Dowling Armstrong and Class AAA winner Tyler Guy.

Division II-AA champion Gordon Hulgan of McCallie said he missed the deadline to enter.

"So stupid," he said Sunday after tying for second at the Chattanooga Men's Metro.

Area golfers Clark Melton, Corey Evans, Brooks Thomas and Scott Stevens and incoming University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman Michael Monroe earned exemptions into the field. The other locals reached this championship through qualifying tournaments.

With area golfers representing about 17 percent of the field, a member of that group may well win the tournament.

"We've played here in high school matches," said Evans, who played at Walker Valley and is to West Georgia on scholarship. "I'm looking forward to it."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

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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