published Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Rain dampens Tennessee Junior Amateur golf

Umbrellas were required.

Dry towels were a necessity and rain gloves surely helped participants in the 2012 Tennessee Junior Amateur championship at Black Creek Club on Wednesday.

The conclusion of the first round from Tuesday began at on time at 8 a.m. with the second round starting an hour later.

The tournament never had a delay on Wednesday despite persistent rain that slowed the pace of play, decreased the distance of all shots, slowed greens and forced golfers to take relief from casual water in bunkers.

It wasn't a pretty day to play golf -- until the competition ended and the sun emerged about 30 minutes after the conclusion of play.

"It was tough and it rained the whole time and I was soaking wet the whole time, but we got through," said Chattanooga Christian School rising sophomore Scott Stevens, who has played more than 100 rounds at Black Creek, but never a competitive round in the rain there.

"The distance of shots and putting was different than normal," added Stevens, who is tied for 20th at 2-over 146 after two straight rounds of 73. "I know this course pretty well, but I haven't played it much when it's raining."

Ben Reeves, who will play for UT-Martin in the fall, had little trouble with the conditions. He shot a 6-under 66 in the second round and leads the state junior championship at 9-under 135.

"It was nice that we didn't have to start and stop and I could get in a flow," said Reeves, who made eight birdies and two bogeys Wednesday. "I'm a good putter -- at least I like to think so -- and that can keep my game together."

Farragut rising senior Stuart Thomas, who has committed to play for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is in second place and two strokes behind Reeves.

Mitchell Thomas, Jack Smith and Austin Kramer are tied for third at 5 under and will enter the final round Thursday four shots behind the leader.

Recent Walker Valley graduate Clark Melton leads the Chattanooga area contingent at 1-under 143. Brooks Thomas of Ringgold High School is at even-par 144.

First-round leader Dowling Armstrong shot 4 over on Wednesday which was an eight-shot swing from his first round at Black Creek. He scored a quadruple-bogey on No. 1 and had his Wednesday score at even before a double-bogey on No. 14 and a triple bogey on No. 16, before ending his round with a birdie on the last.

"I was hitting it all over the place off the tee," Armstrong said. "I lost at least three shots due to wet grips. You have to be prepared for it."

Especially when the forecast calls for more rain today.

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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