published Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Julie Roberson on roll with Cleveland Invitational win

One deep breath, a couple dabs and one smile kept tears from sliding down Julie Roberson's cheeks as she watched her son claim the Cleveland Invitational trophy on Sunday.

It's almost become routine.

"They're tears of joy," she said.

Caleb Roberson, her 23-year-old son, has been playing the best golf of his life over the past 10 days.

He won the Cleveland Invitational on Sunday with a two-day total of 12-under-par 132 which broke the tournament record by four strokes.

Roberson earned medalist honors in a State Amateur qualifier on Monday at Council Fire where he was the only player under par. And the Sunday before, he won the Chattanooga Men's Metro for his first amateur victory turning his mother's eyes into a happy faucet.

The total tally for his six rounds of tournament golf in 10 days at three of the area's premier courses is an impressive 19-under par.

"It's not [human growth hormone]," Roberson joked. "I've changed my attitude."

Roberson won by six strokes on Sunday over former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golfer Ben Rickett. PJ Shields finished third at 4 under, while Jimmy White III and Richard Spangler tied for fourth at 3 under.

Frank Hollowell won the senior division at 3 under and by nine strokes over Coy Mabry and Gerald Burns.

But nobody is playing as well as Roberson who will try to carry his momentum -- and new attitude -- into the Choo-Choo Invitational beginning today at Council Fire.

"Before the Metro, I played in the Spirit of America [where he shot 8 over and tied for 44th], and I was really frustrated and I drove home by myself to think about my game," Roberson said. "Then I signed up for the Metro three hours before the deadline and said, 'Let's have some fun.'

"I think that's the main difference."

Roberson shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday and entered Sunday with a one shot-lead over White, a two-shot lead over Shields and Spangler in addition to a six-shot lead over Rickett.

"The damage to me was done Saturday," Rickett said. "I knew I'd have to shoot a real low number today because I didn't shoot in the 60s yesterday."

On Sunday, White fell out of contention with three straight bogeys starting on No. 9. Spangler crept within one shot of Roberson until he carded a quadruple bogey on No. 12.

All the while, Rickett racked up five birdies in his first 10 holes on Saturday and reached 7-under with four holes to play when lightning halted play for more than an hour. Rickett never got closer to the one who has opened his mother's tear ducts once again.

"When you're young, like high school, it's 'Get away, get away,' but they've always come out and given me confidence," Roberson said. "Playing well makes my parents happy. I like that."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 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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