Jimmy White tries for repeat in Men's Metro

Jimmy White tries for repeat in Men's Metro

July 6th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sportlocal

Jimmy White III (CQ) hits a at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club.

Jimmy White III (CQ) hits a at the...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

The man-cave at the home of Jimmy White III will look a little sparse for at least a couple days.

The 2011 Chattanooga Men's Metro champion must return the silver trophy to the Chattanooga District Golf Association this morning.

It's going to leave a bare spot.

"It's been in the man room right next to the big TV and a few other golf trophies and memorabilia," White said. "It's had a special spot for the last year. Hopefully it can return there.

"It's a nice conversation piece."

Competition for that trophy will begin today at WindStone Golf and Country Club with nearly 100 golfers playing a three-round tournament to determine the Chattanooga area champion.

"There's a lot of good players coming out of the woodwork who haven't played much this year, to try and win the Metro," White said. "The Metro is the U.S. Open of our city. It moves every year, so that makes it tough to defend."

The Metro has been played every year since 1929 -- including wartime -- and the list of winners includes legends. Polly Boyd won the first tournament, four of the first five championships and another in 1941.

The likes of Lew Oehmig, Willard Miller, Wesley Brown, Harry Shoemaker, Ed Brantly and Mickey Mabry are among the names who engraved on the trophy more than once. Sam Bedwell is the only golfer to repeat as champion in the last decade.

"There's something special about what it means to be the best golfer in the Chattanooga area," said Richard Spangler, who has been in contention for every CDGA event this year. "This tournament is up there in importance."

WindStone superintendent Wes Gilbert said the course is ready for quality competition. He and his staff have been caring for it in anticipation of this championship.

But the current heat wave has made some jobs more difficult. Gilbert said a few fairways are getting three times their normal amount of water. Yet the bentgrass greens, which are less than two years old, will be ready for challenges.

"The course is very firm, very dry, but the greens are real good," Gilbert said. "I'm a little scared to make them super-fast in this heat."

WindStone, even from the championship teeing grounds, is a short course with the scorecard stretching it to 6,626 yards. The four par-5 holes are reachable for most golfers in two shots. And Gilbert said the par-4 14th could play as a drivable green during the tournament.

If so, that would give golfers three opportunities to score an eagle in the last five holes. White said the closing holes and the par-5s will determine the champion.

"WindStone happens to be a course I like a lot," White said. "You have to work the ball on the par-4s. You have to hit fades and draws. You have to use every club in your bag and hit a lot of different shots."

If White is able to win, nobody will notice that the trophy was ever missing.