Competitive golf is enjoyable again for Chattanooga's Taylor Lewis, especially being in contention in the mid-amateur division of the Lupton Memorial Tournament.
Playing at The Honors Course always is enjoyable for Raleigh-area resident Paul Simson, who is on track to win his fifth Lupton trophy when the final round of the senior division competition concludes today in Ooltewah.
"This place is paradise," said Simson, who has landed more bass than he can count while fishing Lake Lupton. "I think I've won four trophies. We will try to get one more on the board tomorrow."
Simson leads the senior group with 78 points in the Stableford system. His closest competition is Bob Stephens of Indianapolis, who is seven points behind.
"I think that's pretty comfortable," Simson said. "I will shoot as low as I can with nothing to protect. I'm going to be aggressive and stay aggressive. The last thing you want to do is start protecting a lead out here."
Ted Smith of Wilkinson, Ind., has the smallest lead of the three divisions heading into the final round. He has 70 points in the super-senior division, and next best is Don Marsh of the Atlanta area with 67.
Robert Gerwin of Cincinnati leads the stout mid-amateur division after shooting 3-under-par 141 for 36 holes. He leads Kenny Cook of Noblesville, Ind., by four strokes, 2012 Masters participant Mike McCoy and Lewis by five heading into the final round.
"I was keeping the ball out of too much trouble -- made two birdies and two bogeys today," Gerwin said. "I'm staying consistent even though I misjudged some green speeds today.
"I'm looking forward to the final round. That's why you play competitive golf."
Lewis, who won the Chattanooga Metro in 2006 and 2007, faded away from competitive golf for nearly three years. During the peak of his amateur career he also worked in the golf industry.
"It turned me off because I was playing it and working in it, and in 2009 work was negative," Lewis said. "There was a point where I really didn't care to play unless it was with buddies drinking beer and the score really didn't matter."
He made several changes in his life, which a few years later have resulted in Lewis enjoying competition on the course. He joined Chattanooga-based Denthawk in town to earn a paycheck. Lewis also added mountain biking as a hobby and rode trains around Raccoon Mountain, Little Five Points, the Volkswagen plant and a few other places around Chattanooga.
Then last summer, he joined Council Fire Golf Club as a place to spend part of his paycheck.
"I got to where I liked golf again," said Lewis, who is playing in his first Lupton tournament. "It gave me something to do besides mountain biking. Now, after work, I hit balls a couple times a week and play a couple times a week."
Lewis was one of only two players in the 49-man field of mid-amateurs to break par Saturday -- and one of four in all, including the seniors and super-seniors. Lewis shot a 1-under 71 but still is five behind.
"It would take something special to climb back to the top and win," Lewis said. "If I win, that would be great. If I finish sixth with a good score, that would be a respectful finish for the people who invited me to play in such a prestigious event.
"I don't feel that I have to win every time I tee it up."
After all, not everybody can be Simson -- who has four wins in seven tournaments at The Honors Course.
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.