White claims Metro victory

White claims Metro victory

July 11th, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sportlocal

Jimmy White III hits a shot from the fairway of the 16th hole Sunday on his way to a win the Chattanooga Men's Metro Championship at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club.

Jimmy White III hits a shot from the...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

All other participants succumbed to the difficulty of the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club by the time Jimmy White III rolled in a two-foot par putt on the final hole of the Chattanooga Men's Metro.

White emerged from a pack of eight contenders Sunday to claim the city amateur championship with a three-day total of 3-under-par 210.

"The Metro is the biggest city tournament - it's the one you want to win - and Chattanooga Golf and Country Club is where you want to win it," White said. "I've always liked this course. They've redone it, but it has that old feel and you feel the history when you're out there."

White adds his name to a trophy bearing the names of Chattanooga's great golfers such as Lew Oehmig, Ira Templeton and White's uncle, Larry White.

White won Sunday with an even-par 71. Of the 26 players who made the cut, only Matt Robertson shot under par and he did so by a stroke.

"That right there tells you how hard the course played today," said Mitch Hufstetler, who tied for second at 1 under with Tom Schreiner and Gordon Hulgan. "It was a tough grind out there today."

Everybody played the same difficult course. Eight golfers - White, Schreiner, Hulgan, Hufstetler, second-round leader Larry McGill, Ryan Hulton, Chris Schmidt and Nick Blakely - were either in the lead, tied for it or within two shots of it at some point Sunday.

"There were a lot of people who could have won this," Schreiner said. "We knew that nobody was running away with it. There was a little more energy out there because people were trying to figure things out and who made a move one way or another."

In the end, the course cleaned their clock. McGill, the 60-year-old who won the senior division on Saturday, started with a double-bogey and shot 8 over on the front, which removed him from contention.

Hulgan, a rising sophomore at McCallie, shot 4 over including a double-bogey on No. 15. Blakely had the biggest heartache of all. He stepped to the 54th hole of the tournament at 3 under and tied with White for the lead. But Blakely sent his tee shot on the par-3 18th into knee-high grass right of the cart path, and he finished the hole with a quadruple-bogey.

"I knew on 18 that it was between us two," White said. "But I didn't know about [Blakely's] struggle until I reached the green and had to two-putt to win."

White did, and he won.

"I didn't know exactly where everybody was until No. 15, but I knew how hard the course was playing and that pins were tucked, so I figured that as the pressure built up that pars would be good," said White, who played the last four holes at par. "Before the tournament started, I thought 210 would win."

The victory is White's first in the area since he resumed playing in 2008. The 33-year-old starred for Baylor in the 1990s, played college golf at Tennessee and then gave the mini-tours a whirl. A back injury ended his pro career.

"I remember hitting a drive on the range then dropping to my knees," White said. "Then I had [back] surgery. I hung up my clubs in '05 and didn't play again until 2008."

He played more often in 2008. He made the cut at the 2009 State Amateur contested at The Honors Course and now plays about twice a week - just enough to stay sharp.

"I felt that competitive drive again today," White said. "I love that. Golf is fun, especially when your livelihood isn't riding on it."