published Monday, May 5th, 2014

Huge lead helps Godfrey claim Cleveland Invitational

Golfer Cody Godfrey tees off from the 10th green during the Cleveland Invitational golf tournament Sunday at Cleveland Country Club in Cleveland, Tenn. Godfrey shot a 3-under 141 to win the tournament.
Golfer Cody Godfrey tees off from the 10th green during the Cleveland Invitational golf tournament Sunday at Cleveland Country Club in Cleveland, Tenn. Godfrey shot a 3-under 141 to win the tournament.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

Cody Godfrey scored a triple-bogey on the final hole of the Cleveland Invitational on Sunday at Cleveland Country Club.

Such a score on the 36th hole of a 36-hole tournament usually costs a contender the trophy.

But not Godfrey, and not on Sunday.

He still won by three strokes over former Walker Valley High School teammate Hunter Vest. Godfrey, who played two seasons at Tennessee Wesleyan, shot a 3-under 141 including an even-par 72 on Sunday to win the second Chattanooga TPC series tournament of his young career.

"It was comforting having a big lead," Godfrey said. "I'm not saying I wasn't concentrating, but I got comfortable and didn't make good swings down the stretch and that's why I tripled No. 18."

Godfrey, who won the 2012 Chattanooga Men's Metro Championship at WindStone Golf Club, started the day tied with Vest at 3 under.

His lead eventually swelled to six shots as Vest played from the bunkers, long-hitting Matt Hadden lost his touch, and third-place finisher Joe Markham Jr., rode a roller-coaster of birdies and bogeys on a perfect 78-degree afternoon.

"I had no idea what my lead was, but I knew it was enough," Godfrey said. "Matt kept telling me that I could have bogeyed every hole from 14 on in and still won."

Vest shot a 75 and finished in second with an even-par 144. Markham placed third at 2 over, followed by Brandon Cissom and Jerod Baldwin who shot 3-over 147s.

Mitch Hufstetler won the senior division, in his debut as a senior, with a 151 which topped Jim Brett by two shots.

"I played a lot better than I scored," said Vest, who recently finished his playing career at Lee University. "I gave myself chances but didn't take advantage. I had a couple wedge-shots that I didn't get close, and I three-jacked twice to kill momentum."

Vest, Hadden and Godfrey -- playing in the last group -- were within four shots of each other heading to the teeing ground on the eighth hole. Vest parred. Godfrey bogeyed pulling Vest two within two of Godfrey. But Hadden had a double-bogey dropping him five off the lead and ending his chances.

The momentum completely shifted in favor of Godfrey on the par-5 No. 10. He and Vest were just off the green to the left in two shots. Vest three-putted for par and gave Godfrey a hint of how his first putt would move. He buried his putt across the green for an eagle moving him to 5 under and giving him a four-shot lead.

"I had 226 [yards] to the flag and I hit a 4-iron to pin-high but left," said Godfrey, who was the only player to score under par. "I got a good read off Hunter. He's the only reason I made that putt."

Both Godfrey and Vest birdied No. 12. A bogey by Vest dropped him five off the lead and another bogey on No. 15 by Vest provided Godfrey with a six-shot lead to play the final three holes as the gallery swelled with competitors, club members and former Lee University players including 2013 champion Caleb Roberson who is now a professional.

"I'm probably going to have a nice dinner tonight," Godfrey said. "Then I'll get back to practicing and learn from the mistakes I made today."

Mistakes including making a triple-bogey on the last hole -- a hole that didn't hurt him one bit.

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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