published Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Morton makes a run to Templeton title in a playoff

Ray Morton planned on a comfortable cruise home to Lenior City after the Ira Templeton Chattanooga Open on Tuesday.

He arrived in a hurry on Monday.

Morton, an amateur who plays out of Willow Creek Golf Club, arrived so late that his warm-up routine consisted of swinging four clubs at once on the 14th teeing ground at Creeks Bend Golf Club before the shotgun start.

If he would have arrived 10 minutes later, he would have been disqualified. Instead, a little lead foot on Monday helped produce a championship trophy on Tuesday.

"I hit no range balls before I started," Morton said. "I'm glad I didn't have to hit driver first after sitting in my car for 90 minutes."

Morton shot a 4-under-par 66 on Tuesday which placed him at 5 under for the tournament and in a tie with professional Euggie Jones.

Morton beat Jones with a birdie in a sudden-death playoff that lasted one hole to let the championship plaque ride shotgun on the way home.

Professionals Audie Johnson and Casey Flenniken tied for third at 4 under. Former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football kicker David Vick finished fifth at 3 under. Jeremy Lawson of Hixson led the local contingent and tied for sixth at 2 under.

"In these two days, I only made two putts outside of five feet," said Morton, who made 10 birdies in 37 holes. "I had to hit it close to make a birdie."

In the playoff, he hit a chip on the par-5 No. 1 to within eight feet. Jones' third shot rested just off the green but close enough for him to putt. The ball burned the edge.

"I figured that I had to make it," said Jones after shaking hands with the winner.

"I putted really well today on both sides," said Jones, who works at Dick's Sporting goods in Kingsport. "We played 19 holes together today. We were pushing each other the whole way."

Jones estimated it had been about 15 years since he and Morton played together.

"We were three groups behind the [first-round] leaders, and we weren't thinking about winning, just playing well and having a good time," Morton said. "It wasn't until Jake posted his 71 that I thought, 'Here we go.'"

Jones earned $2,750 for being the low professional. Randy Helton won $750 for winning the senior division in a playoff over senior low-amateur Bob Rice after they tied at 3 under.

Morton earned $750 in gift certificates which he said he'll put to use for his daughter who has picked up the game.

"She plays middle-school golf," Morton said, "so that's helped my game because we'll go out and practice together."

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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