published Monday, October 8th, 2012

Hunter Vest hits long putt to win TPC

Hunter Vest
Hunter Vest
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The sun finally broke through and bathed the 14th green at Council Fire Golf Club for a minute.

It happened to shine as Hunter Vest swept in an 18-foot right-to-left putt to win the Chattanooga TPC 5 and 4 over Richard Spangler.

Then the sun hid again as Spangler drove back to the clubhouse ending a four-day run to the championship match.

"I had a lot of fun, but it was a grind all weekend," said Spangler, who beat Tom Schreiner 3 and 2 in the semifinals Sunday morning. "I made a living on people hitting it out of play, and I was trying to play the other guys' bad shots. It was a short-game display by me until that last match."

Spangler drove home to watch football with the runner-up trophy in his car. Vest, a junior on Lee University's golf team, drove to Rome with the championship trophy. The Flames are playing in a tournament hosted by Berry College today and Tuesday.

"Our practice round is in the morning then the first round is in the afternoon," said Vest, who has played about 90 holes of golf at Council Fire since Thursday. "That would be a good tournament for us to win."

Vest began the Chattanooga District Golf Association season by winning the Brainerd Invitational. He closed the year by winning the Chattanooga TPC.

"It's crazy," Vest said. "It's special."

Vest topped TPC stroke-play medalist Brendon Wilson on the 19th hole in their semifinal match. Wilson led Vest 2 up for most of the morning until Wilson bogeyed hole No. 15 and Vest birdied No. 17.

"I hit it all over the place in my morning match," Vest said.

He corrected the problem at lunch and before facing Spangler who continued a trend of taking home the shorter trophy and smaller pro-shop gift certificate.

Spangler finished runner-up at the Signal Mountain Invitational and the Chattanooga Metro (in a tie), and on Sunday, at the Chattanooga TPC.

He lost Sunday because his short game took the afternoon off. Spangler went 1 down when Vest birdied No. 2, then went 2 down when he bogeyed No. 3.

Spangler missed crucial putts on every hole after making the turn. He could have halved No. 10, won No. 11, halved No. 12 and won No. 13 -- all by making putts of 10 feet or less.

Vest made his share of putts to strangle Spangler's shot at success beginning with a four-footer to win on No. 10. Less than an hour later, as the sun shined for a minute, Vest poured in the winning putt.

"I made a lot of good comebacks," Vest said. "I tried to go out and get the momentum early and keep it going as long as possible."

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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