published Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Hamico having to pay

Hamico could go broke — just a joke.

The foundation arm for Chattem Inc. has volunteered to donate $5 to The First Tee of Chattanooga for every birdie made during five Chattanooga TPC series golf events this year, including this weekend’s Brainerd Invitational.

Just one round into the first of the five tournaments, area golfers have bumped the fund to $1,175, not including matching donations any of them will make for their birdies.

“It’s fantastic,” said First Tee president Mike Jenkins, who made 16 pars and no birdies Saturday at Brainerd Golf Course. “We averaged more than two birdies per player, which is awesome when you think of the number of players who didn’t sink a single birdie.”

Tom Schreiner shot a 5-under-par 67 with seven birdies and a double bogey. Tied for second are Wes Gilliland, who shot 68 with eight birdies and an eagle — somewhat countered by a triple-bogey — and Mitch Hufstetler, who had two birdies and an eagle.

The 107 participants combined to make 235 birdies Saturday. Jenkins had estimated the field would make about 250 birdies — eagles count double — for the whole two-day tournament.

“I probably won’t make 10 birdies the rest of the year,” Gilliland joked. “I don’t mind paying that $50. I’ll take a 68 no matter what round it is.”

Schreiner had similar sentiments. He underwent back surgery to alleviate two herniated disks about two months ago. The procedure has taken some length away from his game, but that mattered little at Brainerd on Saturday because of his short game.

“I didn’t make a bad putt today,” Schreiner said, noting that he took advantage of the lift, clean and place rule. “The greens were good today. It was like playing at Augusta National.”

He, Hufstetler and Gilliland will be joined in the final group today by Brandon Cissom, who shot 69 and begins the final round at 1:30. Matt Mathis, John Maupin and Coy Mabry each shot 70, which has them tied for fifth.

“With Brandon in our group,” Hufstetler said, “us old guys will be hitting first into a lot of greens.”

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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