COLLEGE GROVE – For Joey Savoie, this past week was all about being comfortable.
At a course he was intimately familiar with, and with a long-time friend as his caddie, Savoie played the last two rounds of the 70th annual Franklin American Mortgage Tennessee Open nearly flawless.
A native a Quebec, Canada, Savoie followed up his second-round 65 with a card of 4-under, 68 on Thursday to cruise to a six-stroke victory (203 three-day total) over former Lipscomb University golfer Eric Ansett at The Grove.
“I played a really solid week overall,” Savoie said. “I had a lot of fun with my caddie, Liam. I knew the golf course so I was able to play (freely).”
“It just came out my way this week. I really hit the ball well, made some key putts at some key moments, and now we’re holding the trophy.”
Savoie’s winning score of 13-under equaled the tournament record set by Jonathan Fly in 2011 at Brentwood Country Club.
Savoie played one year of collegiate golf at Middle Tennessee State University after transferring from Saint Leo University, an NCAA Division II school located just north of Tampa, Fla.
MTSU considers The Grove as one of its home courses, so Savoie came into this week having a lot of experience on the Greg Norman-designed layout.
“In college golf, I never had (an individual win),” Savoie noted. “It feels good to win this one on the home golf course.”
“Last year, we had regionals here and we didn’t make it to nationals by only one shot. It just feels good. I just love this place.”
Savoie was joined on the bag by a former teammate of his at Saint Leo, Liam Ainsworth. The two played on Saint Leo’s 2016 national championship squad.
“I would like to thank my great friend, Liam, for being on the bag this week,” Savoie added. “He made me laugh all the time, and that’s what a good caddie does … he makes you relax.”
Savoie entered the final day with a three-stroke lead over playing partners Stoney Crouch and Ansett.
The margin between Savoie and Ansett briefly got to two after Savoie bogeyed the par-three, sixth, and then again after he recorded back-to-back bogeys on 9 and 10.
Savoie regained his momentum in a big way, though, as he ran off a string of three straight birdies on holes 11-13 to move in front by six strokes.
He ended his round with a chip-in for eagle on No. 18.
“I felt like after eight, my composure was not really well,” Savoie explained. “I was getting a little bit tense over the ball. After 11, I just starting swinging the club freely and without any expectations. I had some better swings and made some clutch putts.”
Savoie is currently a member of the Canadian national amateur golf team. The 23-year-old won the Quebec Amateur back in 2016. He is the first amateur to win the Tennessee Open since Craig Smith did so back in 2012.
Ansett birdied two of his final three holes to finish alone in second at 7-under. Chas Narramore and Michael Nagy were the top-finishing professionals in the field. They tied for third at 5-under and split the top monetary prize for the pros, which ended up being $7,500 for each of them.
Andrew McCain and Spencer Cross were part of a four-way tie for fifth. They also tied for the best score of the final round at 5-under, 67. Stoney Crouch and Hunter Richardson also tied for fifth at 4-under.