Josh Nelms leads Brainerd Invitational; final round today

Josh Nelms leads Brainerd Invitational; final round today

August 18th, 2013 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Golf

Mike Jenkins has made a hole-in-one four times during his life. One ace came in Kentucky, one at Creeks Bend Golf Club and two at Chattanooga Golf and Country Club.

He did something more memorable than any ace Saturday in the Brainerd Invitational.

Jenkins shot a record 7-under-par 29 on the back nine of Brainerd Golf Course in tournament conditions from the white tees, giving him a 5-under 67 for the round and a four-shot lead in the senior division.

"A hole-in-one is one shot," Jenkins said. "I'd say the 29 is more memorable than any hole-in-one."

Former Hixson resident Josh Nelms is the regular division leader after a 6-under 66. He shot 35 on the front nine and 31 on the back nine.

Neil Spitalny, Tom Schreiner, Jimmy White III and Wayne Woolfall each shot 68 and are two strokes behind Nelms. Matt Robertson, Jacob Clark, Chris Hall, Hunter Vest and Joe Markham are three shots off the lead heading into the final round today.

"It's been a long time since I've slept on a lead," Nelms said. "I was never leading at the State Amateur, but I was close, and I didn't feel any nerves or anything. I'm not worried about that tomorrow."

Nelms, who played at Middle Tennessee State, made five birdies and one bogey before closing his round with an eagle on No. 18.

"I didn't hit it incredibly close all day, but I gave myself chances," Nelms said. "The greens were perfect and I rolled in a 12-footer and an 18-footer today for birdies."

Schreiner and White are in the pack trying to chase down Nelms this afternoon -- barring any weather delays. Schreiner said he became "a basket case" after an awful putt on No. 13 but recovered to birdie the final hole. White said he took aggressive lines and hit driver shot over the fairway ditches instead of laying back.

"I think being anywhere within four shots is a pretty good spot," White said.

The closest challengers to Jenkins in the senior division were Ronnie Law and Tom Baird. Law entered the scoring area Saturday and was greeted by a smiling Jenkins, who is the tournament co-director with Richard Keene.

"I just turned on my phone and I had breaking news from ESPN," joked Law, who will be grouped with Jenkins today. "It was about some Jenkins guy shooting 29."

Jenkins chipped in on No. 10 for a birdie. Then he one-putted the next four holes from within five feet. He sank a 20-footer on No. 16 to save par. He followed with testy putts of two and four feet on the closing holes.

"I actually started thinking about a 29 after saving that par," Jenkins said. "That's all I thought about on 18. There were a lot of thoughts running through my head that shouldn't have been there.

"I'm most surprised that I actually did it."

Unlike the aces, it didn't cost him the price of one single cocktail.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@times freepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.