NASHVILLE – It’s impossible to talk about the history of the Tennessee Amateur and not delve deep into the proud tradition the Memphis area has had in the state’s premier amateur golf tournament.
Now, the area can claim one more champion in the Tennessee Amateur’s 105-year history.
Cary Middlecoff, Hillman Robbins, Emmett Spicer, Jr., Tim Jackson, Bobby Hudson, Jonathan Fly, the Wittenbergs … the list goes on and on. Friday afternoon at Hillwood Country Club, Jack Crosby became the latest Memphian to hoist the Martin Condon Trophy.
Crosby led the 2020 edition of the tournament wire-to-wire, turning in a four-day total of -14, 274 to win by three strokes over William Nottingham.
“Memphis is kind of a close-knit kind of crew of golfers,” Crosby said. “It’s a lot of pride to join that group.”
“It’s amazing. It’s been a stressful couple of days, but I know my name will be on that trophy forever”
Crosby entered the final round of the tournament with a two-stroke lead over Cookeville’s Will Brooks, but three bogeys by Crosby in the first ten holes allowed a chunk of the field to remain within striking distance.
That was, until Crosby headed for the back nine – which he found a lot of success on over the course of the week.
For the four tournament rounds, Crosby recorded 16 birdies and an eagle on holes 10-18, with just two bogeys.
One of those mishaps came on No. 10 in the final round, which allowed Brentwood’s Trevor Johnson to pull into a tie for first at 10-under.
That was as close as anyone got to overtaking the eventual champion on Friday, though, as Crosby birdied four of five holes in a stretch beginning on No. 13.
He sank a long putt for birdie on 16, which gave him a two-stroke lead. With his family in the crowd, he added another birdie on 17 to head to the final hole with a comfortable three-stroke cushion.
His parents celebrated with him as he walked off the 18th green. His mom had started tearing up a couple of holes prior as her son’s victory became more probable.
“It doesn’t take much for (my mom) to cry,” Crosby grinned. “They have been so supportive. Furman is eight hours from Memphis and they come to every single tournament. Their support has been great and I’m happy to share this with them.”
Nottingham received the runner-up trophy for the second consecutive year. He tied for the low round of the tournament with a 66 on Friday, which included a birdie-eagle-birdie finish.
The three-time TGA champion (two Tennessee Junior titles, one Tennessee Match Play) carded a four-day total of 277 (69-71-71-66).
Three other players scored in red numbers all four tournament rounds this year. University of Tennessee assistant coach Bo Andrews went 69-70-70-70 (-9) to place T3, Clemson golfer Kyle Cottam was 70-69-71-70 (-8) to finish T7, and Vanderbilt golfer Michael Shears tallied a 70-70-71-70 (-7) to end up T10.
This year’s Tennessee Junior Amateur champion Jack Morris also turned in a 66 in the final round to tie for third at -9. Joining him and Andrews at T3 were University of Louisville golfer Trevor Johnson and Brooks of Tennessee Tech.
Joining Cottam at -8, T7 were UT-Martin’s Nick Wolf and the University of Tennessee’s Tyler Johnson.
Tying for 10th along with Shears were Oliver Simonsen of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Cooper Sears of Middle Tennessee State University and Davis Shore of the University of Alabama.
This marked Crosby’s fifth appearance in the Tennessee Amateur Championship. He finished fifth in the event at the Honors Course last year and T20 the year before at his home course, Spring Creek Ranch.
He first played in the Tennessee Amateur in 2016 at Blackthorn Club and missed the cut.
“That was after my junior year of high school,” Crosby remembered. “I had no business being there, really. I think I qualified out of sheer luck.”
Crosby is a junior for the Furman University men’s golf team. In 2018-19 he was voted the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year. During that season, he helped lead the Paladins to their first team title since 2011, coming in the Wofford Invitational.
He was somewhat of a late-comer to the competitive golf scene, though he started taking lessons from Rob Akins at Spring Creek Ranch at a young age.
He mainly played baseball and tennis in high school and only walked onto the Furman golf team midway through his first year of college.
“The past few years have been great,” Crosby said. “I’ve started to believe in myself more and more. It’s nice to have this breakthrough.
Crosby’s caddie for the week was Mason Rudolph, grandson of Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame member who won the 1950 U.S. Junior Amateur and the 1956 Tennessee Amateur before a three-decade long career on the PGA Tour.