Morning rain showers forced the first round of the Ira Templeton Chattanooga Open at Creeks Bend Golf Club to begin with a shotgun start at 2:30 p.m.
Rising creek levels forced tournament officials to create a makeshift bridge of pallets to reach the teeing ground on hole No. 4 -- twice, after the first one washed away.
Braxton Hunter rose above the water and his fellow competitors in the first round.
The professional golfer from Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville shot a 5-under-par 65 and leads co-worker Chris Dibble by two strokes.
Former Notre Dame High School golfer Richard Powell is third after firing a 68 and leads the amateur division by one over Benjamin Thomas of Harrison and Tennessee Wesleyan golfer McKeehanon Rue by one.
"I'm still kind of mooching off graduation money that I got," said Powell, who graduated from King College in May with a degree in sports management and a minor in sports administration. "It's nice to see a red [under-par] number next to my name, and it's nice to see my name up there on the leaderboard."
Powell finished the fall season at King as one of the top 10 players in NCAA Division II based on stroke average. He didn't play as well in the spring despite making it to a regional championship.
He's been home for about a month and trying to return to the form he held when pumpkins decorated front porches.
"A 68 today certainly helps," said Powell, who had four birdies and two bogeys Monday. "I'm thinking about playing the summer and the rest of the year as an amateur, then trying the mini-tours and maybe Canadian Tour and prepare myself for what may be four or five years down the road and just going for the [PGA] Tour."
Thoughts of joining the PGA Tour are beyond the dreams of Knoxville resident Steve Golliher, who leads the overall senior division after making five birdies for a 65 of his own. He leads Loudon's Jim Brown by two and Signal Mountain resident Tom Baird by three heading into the final round.
"I like this old golf course because it reminds me of when I was a kid," Golliher said. "It brings up fond memories of growing up in western Kentucky."
Other fond memories will be made by the winners today.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP
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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