With erratic ball striking and a shaky history over the past few years, Richard Spangler had reasons to not exactly be confident coming into the final holes of the Chattanooga Men's Metro golf tournament Sunday at The Course at McLemore.
But Spangler overcame the jitters and sported a hot putter to finish the final round with a 1-over-par 72 and a 54-hole score of 1-over 214 that allowed the former Middle Tennessee State golfer to eke out a two-shot victory over Rick Mays.
Matt Crowder placed third at 4 over, finishing with a 72 on a day when only one player broke par at the scenic but difficult mountain course that overlooks McLemore Cove in north Georgia, just a few miles east of Trenton. Mays closed with a 73.
While most of the field was having difficulty with the course, Hayden Hunneke compiled the best score of this year's event with a sizzling 67 to finish at 4-over 217 and share fourth place with 2018 champion David Watts (75) and Taylor Lewis (71). Hunneke's 67 was despite a triple-bogey 7 at No. 6.
While the majority of the players were having trouble even making pars, Hunneke, a member of the University of Tennessee golf team, made eight birdies. Spangler had only two birdies in the round.
"I'm just happy to finally get in with a win," said Spangler, who plays out of Signal Mountain. "The last time I played up here, four or five years ago, I lost to Sport Allmond in a playoff when both of us had eagle putts on the first hole. He made his, and I lipped mine out."
Spangler's putter was the difference this time. While he started poorly Sunday, bogeying two of his first five holes, he played the final 13 in 1 under. His two birdies came on the front nine as he cashed in on the par-5 sixth and made a 4 on the 418-yard ninth.
He was much more consistent after the turn, reeling off eight pars while sustaining a sole bogey on the long and tight par-4 16th when his drive missed the fairway to the left, with the ball coming to rest nestled against a tree. His only shot was to punch out, and he accomplished that and was able to manage only a bogey.
"I really hit the ball terrible today," Spangler said. "I was struggling, but fortunately just about everybody else was, too. But I putted well, and that was the difference."
The victory took some of the sting out of Spangler's history in the Metro. He previously had played the role of a bridesmaid four times. He also finished second in the Signal Mountain Invitational six times before finally winning that tournament last year.
Allmond (75) placed seventh this year, finishing at 6 over — two strokes ahead of fellow Brown Acres player Jay Potter (72) and three in front of Matt Hadden (74). Cres Dodd (74) at 10 over completed the top 10 in the regular division.
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