Chattanooga’s Matt Robertson and Matt Hadden, from Ringgold, Ga., took the Cleveland Country Club by storm, outlasting the competition and giving the local fans a chance to once again cheer their former collegiate standouts.
Tournament play began Thursday and continued Friday with teams competing in stroke play qualifying. The top 16 teams advanced into the weekend where play switched to match play, ultimately deciding the tournament’s winner.
The four-ball format itself pits one two-golfer team against another two-golfer team. Each player shoots their own ball, but at the end of each hole the team takes the score of the teammate who shot the best on that hole.
Robertson and Hadden’s tournament kicked off Thursday with an opening round 3-under-par 69, which place them toward the back of the pack. The duo rebounded on Friday, blistering the course with a 10-under 62 to move up the board and into a tie for seventh place, qualifying them for weekend’s match play.
Saturday’s round of 16 saw the pair pitted against a team consisting of fellow former Flame Brandon Cissom and current Lee golf coach John Maupin.
After a strong opening round Thursday, Cissom and Maupin started to fade as the tournament progressed and when Saturday’s match play began Robertson and Hadden had them right where they wanted them, winning the round of 16 match 5-and-3 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Quarterfinal play closed out Saturday, and it came down to a nail-biter for Robertson and Hadden.
The team of Trey Tarpley and Carson Jacobs took the match the full 18, but in the end the former Flames walked off the course with a 1-up victory, and their hopes alive for Sunday.
Teeing off on No. 1 at 8 Sunday morning, Robertson and Hadden were the only team with a local connection still alive in the tournament. Originally, 14 golfers with local ties tried their hand at the championship, with several making a valiant push to the finish only to fall short, leaving the Lee graduates the sole hope for a Cleveland-linked champion.
They faced off against the 13th seeded Austin Garrett and Dustin Thomas. Early on, Robertson and Hadden looked on pace to put the match away early, but their opposition crept back in and didn’t make it easy. In the end, Robertson and Hadden were able to take the semifinal 2-and-1 and shift their attention to the championship match.
Final round play saw the pair face off against Ryan Greer and Jack Smith, the final team to make the cut for the weekend’s match play.
It was another hard-fought victory, but when Robertson sank an eight-foot putt No. 17, he and Hadden secured the 2-and-1 victory and the amateur championship.
In the senior division it was the team of Ricky Gregg and Mike Poe that took home the top spot by beating Neil Spitalny and John Williams 2-up.