published Monday, May 27th, 2013

Thad Hudgens holds on to win Lupton Invitaional

Chattanooga's Brendon Wilson watched Thad Hudgens pour in the winning putt of the Lupton Memorial Invitational mid-amateur division at the Honors Course on Sunday.

Wilson, playing in the next-to-last group had been in the hunt to claim the trophy for most of the day.

He was tied for the lead after saving par on the diabolical all-carry 16th hole. He followed that with a solid tee shot on the par-5 17th.

Then the nerves kicked in resulting in a bogey, followed by a bogey on the final hole.

"I'm not playing in enough tournaments," Wilson said, noting this was his first of the year. "It was good to get the competitive juices flowing again.

"If I'm playing anywhere else in Chattanooga, I'm easily under par for three days."

But not at The Honors Course where legendary designer Pete Dye crafted a masterpiece.

Not one player in the field played under-par. Only two golfers broke par for one round -- Hudgens and runner-up Kris Mikkelsen.

Hudgens, a 40-year-old from Orlando, finished with a 5-over total of 221 including a 5-over round on Sunday. Mikkelsen, who won the last two Lupton Invitationals, shot a 73 on Sunday and finished one behind Hudgens. Wilson, who played at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, tied for third at 8 over.

"On 17, I get aggressive and try to get on in two, but I hung it out to the right," Wilson said. "It chipped it by 15 feet and three-putted from there."

Hudgens had no problems with the closing holes, unlike last year when he finished in fifth place. Despite shooting 5 over on the day, he parred No. 15 over water, saved par on No. 16, two-putted for birdie on No. 17 and two-putted for a par and victory on No. 18.

"It wasn't a beautiful round of golf, but I'll congratulate myself on playing 15 through 18 so well," said Hudgens, who played professionally from 1997-2002. "You can throw away so many shots from 15 tee all the way in."

Mikkelsen, who played at Georgia Tech, had a chance to tie Hudgens with a birdie on the final hole. His 9-iron approach bounced and stopped about 15 feet beyond the cup. He took his time reading the putt. It brushed by the cup instead dropping in.

"I really wanted to do my best and make it three in a row," Mikkelsen said. "It's a little disappointing not to win. But I'm proud of the way I hung in there and gave myself a chance on the last hole."

Paul Simson added his name to the list of the senior division champions for the fourth time. He defeated 2012 senior champion Doug Hanzel in a two-hole playoff by making a birdie on No. 2. They finished regulation with 103 points on the Stableford system. Hanzel could have made it 104 but missed a short putt on the final resulting in a bogey.

"Doug handed me a gift by missing that four footer," said Simson, who won the division in 2007-09. "To play The Honors Course is such an incredible journey."

Don Kuehn won the super-senior division in a one-hole playoff after they both totaled 97 points with Marsh getting 38 on Sunday. But Kuehn won on the first playoff hole.

"I decided to travel more and play against national competition when I turned 65," Kuehn said. "To win in the first time I entered is everything I could imagine.

All three champions received a small silver trophy to take home.

"I love this place and its simple logo of the cup," Hudgens said. "To have that cup as a trophy is pretty cool."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 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 — 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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