published Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Hufstetler wins Brainerd Invitational in a playoff

Mitch Hufstetler scooted to his truck in the Brainerd Golf Course parking lot and pulled out another Rusty Patel cigar.

He had no idea how long a three-man playoff would take to determine the winner of the Brainerd Invitational on Sunday afternoon.

It turned out to be a victory cigar.

Hufstetler barely had it smoking when he drained a 10-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to top runners-up Brandon Cissom and Tom Schreiner.

“I was hoping that I didn’t have to make a birdie because I knew Brandon and Tom each had tough up and downs, but Brandon made a par,” Hufstetler said. “Then I told myself to make a better stroke than I did on the first hole, and I did.

“I’m glad we didn’t play many more because don’t know how many more swings I had in my back.”

Hufstetler shot a 3-under-par 69 in the final round for a two-day total of 7-under 137. Schreiner reached 7 under on the last hole after shooting 70 on Saturday, and Cissom shot 68 on Sunday to join the playoff.

Ryan Hulton shot the best round of the tournament, a 7-under 65 on Sunday, and finished fourth, one shot better than Sam Bedwell and two better than Jay Potter and John Maupin who tied for sixth.

“It’s so much fun to play in pressure situations and to hit those shots in clutch situations means so much more,” said Cissom, a 2008 Lee University graduate who is young enough to be the son of Hufstetler or Schreiner. “To play well under pressure means a lot.”

Cissom and Hufstetler were tied at 7-under heading to the final hole of regulation. They both three-putted with Hufstetler beginning about 60 away and Cissom about 20 feet from the cup.

Meanwhile, Schreiner two-putted for birdie after doing the same on No. 17 to join the extra session.

“When you’re down two with two holes to play and you make the playoff, it’s a good tournament,” said Schreiner, who had back surgery about two months ago. “I’ve seen 5s made on No. 18 a lot when somebody needs to make a 4. But I hit a good drive and put it in the middle of the green.”

Schreiner began the day with a one-shot lead on Hufstetler. When they made the turn Sunday, Hufstetler led by one over Schreiner and two over Cissom.

Hufstetler took a two-shot lead on Cissom with an eagle on No. 13. He gave one shot back with a bogey on No. 14 after a tee shot over the green.

Cissom birdied No. 16 after recovering from an errant tee shot. Then Schreiner closed with two birdies while his competitors made pars.

The trio each parred No. 1 in the playoff. Schreiner pulled his tee shot on the par-3 second hole left of the green. Cissom went long. Hufstetler hit it just right — 10 feet away.

“I’ve been playing a lot, even with snow on the ground, when they’d let us out and play, I played,” Hufstetler said. “And I’ve been working with [Bear Trace at Harrison Bay assistant pro] Keith Burdette.

“It’s all paying off.”

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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