Andrew Weathers heard the cheers, jeers and chants as he walked Tuesday afternoon down the fourth fairway of the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club.
Players and guests from the morning wave of the Tennessee Amateur Championship had perched themselves along the pool behind the par-3 fifth green and turned it into a party.
“Kind of like No. 16 at Scottsdale,” said Ryan Thornton, who parred the hole in front of the crowd that had gathered on his family’s back porch.
One scream of “Go, Mocs!” echoed around the course after departing No. 5 with a bogey, the result of missing the green.
“It was pretty fun,” said Weathers, who graduated from McCallie and will play at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “Even if it was a bad shot, they’d go crazy.”
The partiers and participants could have had plenty of fun with the round that left Weathers in a tie for first place at 4-under-par 66 with former University of Memphis players Grant Milner and Matt Cooper.
Weathers, who started on No. 10, made six birdies, four bogeys and an eagle. That left room for seven pars on his scorecard.
“It was a very interesting round,” Weathers said. “But there are still three more rounds to go. I can’t get too excited.”
Former UTC golfer Steven Fox, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, is two shots back and tied for fourth along with Middle Tennessee State golfer Payne Denman, former Hixson resident Josh Nelms and Tennessee Wesleyan golfer Travis Rodgers.
Fox started on No. 10 with extreme efficiency. He birdied the first three holes and made the turn at 4 under. He parred the first five on the front before disaster struck.
He recorded a triple-bogey on No. 6. The tee shot landed in a fairway bunker. His next shot went out of bounds. He dropped in the bunker where his ball plugged and failed to get up and down.
“I had it going for quite a while,” said Fox, who will leave Saturday to defend his national championship. “[The triple-bogey] kind of ruined the day.
“I really enjoy the Country Club, and I didn’t reach my number, but I can get to it in the next couple days.”
Defending champion Tim Jackson is in a eight-way tie for eighth. Chattanooga stalwarts Neil Spitalny and Richard Keene are three back.
All will try chasing down Weathers; Milner, who has six hours left to earn a broadcasting degree; and Cooper, who last played for the Tigers in 2001.
“I wasn’t expecting to shoot 66,” Milner said. “The last couple of years I’ve been close to leading this tournament. But I’ve played maybe 10 rounds this summer. I’m as surprised as anybody.”
<em>Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484.</em>