published Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Cleveland Invitational golf tournaments now leads off

Gentlemen, grab your drivers.

The 2013 Chattanooga TPC series of amateur golf tournaments begins Saturday with defending champion Chris Schmidt looking to retain his trophy as the Cleveland Invitational champion.

The Cleveland Invitational is the official opening to the Chattanooga TPC series for the first time. TPC executive director Mike Jenkins and Cleveland Country Club general manager Lamar Mills agreed to swap dates of the Cleveland Invitational with the Brainerd Invitational for mutual benefit of both tournaments.

"With Brainerd switching to Bermuda greens and Cleveland having bentgrass, Brainerd will be better later in the year and Cleveland will be better early in the year," Jenkins said. "It's a win-win for both tournaments."

It's a simple swap in the schedule. The Brainerd tournament had kicked off the TPC series for years.

"Their greens are going to be better in the middle of August than ours would be, and we can have better conditions in a typical spring than Brainerd," Mills said. "It's a good fit for both of us."

Mills said Wednesday that participation numbers have increased about 12 percent from last year, in part due to the scheduling change. He expects more than 90 golfers this weekend in the season opener for Chattanooga amateurs.

"This kicks off the season and we're excited to have it early," Mills said. "Hopefully we get people signing up and playing in our tournaments, which may lead to all events in the area being more successful and having better turnouts."

Schmidt will be there Saturday morning to defend his title. He'll also play in the Signal Mountain Invitational, which he won last May.

But Cleveland comes first.

"I know what shots I'll have to hit, and I've gone through the process of preparing," Schmidt said. "I've practiced a cut 5-iron into the first green. I know what I'll probably see."

Schmidt defeated runner-up Matt Robertson by two strokes last August. Yet Robertson won the player of the year award.

"I have thrown away the Cleveland trophy about three times," Robertson joked. "I've been in it a few times, but I've never won."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP

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 β€” specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration β€” 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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