published Monday, May 26th, 2014

Winning Lupton entices Mike McCoy, Paul Simson to return for Southern Am

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    Lupton Memorial mid-amateur division winner Mike McCoy.
    Photo by David Uchiyama

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    Lupton Memorial senior-division winner Paul Simson.
    Photo by David Uchiyama

Paul Simson is likely changing his summer golf schedule after winning the senior-division of the Lupton Memorial Tournament on Sunday for a fifth time in his career.

After all, the Southern Amateur will also be played at The Honors Course.

Mike McCoy, who won the mid-amateur division on Sunday, said he'd have to check his schedule to see if the dates of July 16-19 are open for him to play in the prestigious amateur event.

Winning the Lupton makes it awful enticing for both champions.

"It plays long for me from the back, but I just might have to try it," said Simson, who resides in Raleigh. "I just love coming over here and to get to play four more rounds would be pretty special."

Simson amassed 114 points on the Stableford system -- including 36 on Sunday -- to win by eight over Bill Leonard. Ted Smith won the super-senior division with 105 points and defeated runner-up Don Marsh by five.

"To play three rounds out here and stay under par, that would be a high finish in the Southern Am," said Simson, who underwent open-heart surgery in October. "Today, I was was trying to avoid being on auto-pilot, but I was 11 points up with 10 holes to play."

McCoy had no idea how the day would play out after he began the day tied for third and five strokes out of first place. But he posted an even-par 72 for the round which put him at 2-over 218 for the tournament -- the winning score.

He watched the final group play No. 18 while smoking a cigar and sitting in a rocking chair on the porch behind the pro shop.

When runner-up Kevin Cook missed a chip for birdie, McCoy knew he won and received a congratulatory handshake from head professional Henrik Simonsen.

"I love Chattanooga, and I love the Honors Course," said McCoy who reached the semifinals of the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur on the course. "That was my first time here, and I fell in love with this place."

McCoy almost did not participate in the Lupton. Plans for a family Memorial Day celebration fell through for the resident of Des Moines, Iowa. So he went to a practice range on Thursday night where he formed a crazy idea. McCoy called tournament committee member Julian Saul, who made calls to Simonsen and tournament chairman Randy Yoder.

"Julian thought I was teasing him, calling him about 9 the night before the tournament," said McCoy, who had his son Nate caddy for him in the 2014 Masters to which he earned entry as the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. "They said we'd love to have you if you can get here for a 2 o'clock tee time."

He did, and shot 71 on Friday, 75 on Saturday and even-par 72 on Sunday with birdies on his last two holes.

"I played nicely from 14 on in," said McCoy, who along with the rest of the final groups endured a weather delay of about an hour. "I hit some really good shots."

That includes a wedge into the par-5 No. 17 which left him two feet for birdie and rolling in about a 15-foot putt on the final hole.

The final group, including second-round leader Robert Gerwin -- who tied for runner-up -- as well as Cook, were struggling on the back nine allowing McCoy to remain in contention.

Gerwin scored a triple-bogey on No. 11 and a double-bogey on No. 13.

Cook birdied No. 14 to take the lead at 2 over. But he bogeyed No. 16, and a par on No. 17 left him one shot behind McCoy. His approach shot into No. 18 from 143 yards with a wedge came up short of the green. He had to make the chip to tie. It missed the flagstick by less than a foot, and he two-putted from there for a bogey when he needed a birdie to force a playoff.

"The last four holes were really trash," said Cook, who played at Ball State. "I never hit a quality golf shot."

Simson hit plenty all week and McCoy hit it so well on the range Thursday in Iowa he figured The Honors would test him too.

They could be back in July.

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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