published Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Chattanooga golf trio undone on back nine at state championship

Scott Stevens of Chattanooga Christian High School chips onto the green Wednesday afternoon during the final round of the TSSAA Division A/AA golf state championship at the WillowBrook Golf Course in Manchester, Tenn.
Scott Stevens of Chattanooga Christian High School chips onto the green Wednesday afternoon during the final round of the TSSAA Division A/AA golf state championship at the WillowBrook Golf Course in Manchester, Tenn.
Photo by John Rawlston.

MANCHESTER, Tenn. -- Scott Stevens is already looking forward to the Class A/AA state championship next year.

He picked up his second third-place medal in as many years on Wednesday after shooting a 3-under 141 over two days at Willowbrook Golf Club.

"Not too bad to get back-to back third places," said Stevens, a junior at Chattanooga Christian School. "Hopefully next year I'll be able to get the 'W.'"

Stevens tied with Jeremy Fultz of Carter High School. They finished two shots behind champion Grayson Davis of Christ Presbyterian who beat Lipscomb's Dawson Armstrong in a one-hole playoff.

The difficult back nine knocked Stevens and two other area contenders out of competition during the final round. Stevens, Alexander Riddle and Lake Johnson combined to shoot 14 over the course of two days on those holes.

Stevens closed his final round by shooting 7-under over his last 12 holes. But he shot 4-over on his first six holes of the day which put him at 5-over for the tournament. His rally on the easier front nine put him in contention to medal.

"I started 4-over yesterday, and today I did the same thing but a lot better," Stevens said. "I think I was trying to force it and trying too hard.

"After a double on 14, I calmed down and a lot of putts started going in, and I was able to try and make up for my slow start."

The back nine also punished Johnson, a junior at CCS who began the day as individual leader by one shot. But he shot 39 on the difficult nine and couldn't recover by finishing on the front. Johnson tied for fifth after shooting an even-144 after a final-round 77 with University of Tennessee coach Jim Kelson watching most of his round.

"He's never been in that position before, but Lake's a great golfer and he'll be back in several of these tournaments," CCS coach Jim Whitaker said. "He fought all day when he didn't have his best stuff."

Riddle, a Notre Dame seniors who finished runner-up last year, was 3-under for the tournament as he approached the par-5 16th hole with three holes to play. He pushed three shots into a pasture and signed for an 11 on the hole. He placed 11th at 147 with rounds of 68 and 79.

"He thought he had to make up and get a birdie there on 16," Notre Dame coach Jeff Fisher said. "He wanted to win the thing. He gambled and lost -- the house always wins."

The Irish placed fifth at 627. Alcoa won the championship at 591 and Boyd-Buchanan -- led by a 157 from Trent Mansfield and a 165 from Jake Campbell -- placed sixth at 667.

"When we drove in the parking lot the kids were surprised and said it's like a mini-tour event," Bucs coach Ed Connelly said. "We're hoping they draw from the experience and next year they'll be more mature."

The Boyd-Buchanan girls team placed fifth at 340. Junior Madison Balthrop placed 10th with a 162 and senior Lauren Foster added a 180.

Christian Academy of Knoxville senior Sophia Schubert won her third state title in four years at 3-under 141. Meigs County sophomore Kaitlyn Sneed placed 12 with a 164 and Signal Mountain sophomore Bethany Burns -- part of last year's state championship squad -- tied for 15th at 168.

"It was a lot more fun to play as a team last year, but as an individual I was also representing the team," Burns said. "Next year, I would love for the team to get back here."

And next year Stevens and Johnson have a chance to play better on the back nine.

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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