The Tennessee Junior Amateur Championship will be a home game of sorts for the Chattanooga-area boys' golfers taking part, because they can have the comforts of home while competing at Cleveland Country Club.
But it also seem like a road game. Most of the seven area participants have played less than 10 rounds at Cleveland, where the three-day tournament begins this morning.
"It doesn't get any better than staying at home," Baylor rising senior Mikey Feher said. "You're close, but you still don't know the course."
Blake Maum, who is headed to Gardner-Webb late this summer, never had laid eyes on the course, let alone putted on its bentgrass greens, until Monday.
Scott Stevens, who tied for 10th in the Junior last year, hasn't played the course for at least five years.
"It's going to be nice to stay at home and not have to worry about a hotel and stuff," said Stevens, a rising junior at Chattanooga Christian. "From what I remember, it's not too tricky of a course. We should be OK."
And like many golfers across the state, Maum, Feher and Gordon Hulgan barely have practiced in the last week due to all of the rain.
"When the raid would stop, I'd sneak over and see how many balls I could hit," Maum said. "I hit a lot more on Sunday, and I was surprised because I was swinging it pretty good."
Feher said he practiced for 30 minutes Sunday before the rains returned.
"I'm going to say the Chattanooga kids are going to have a disadvantage because we haven't been able to hit balls," Feher said. "It's not an excuse. I think we'll still finish on top."
Lake Johnson of CCS, Alexander Riddle of Notre Dame and Nic Vandeventer of Baylor are the other area high-schoolers participating in the 72-man field.
"There's more pressure on us because we're from the area," Hulgan said. "And college coaches will be there, so this would be a really good tournament to impress everybody.
"It's one of the biggest tournaments I have this summer."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
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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