DICKSON – When Hunter Green started his final round at the 71st annual Tennessee State Open on Thursday, winning the tournament wasn’t the first thing on his mind.
Not because he didn’t believe in his own abilities, but entering the last day seven strokes back in a state championship requires a herculean comeback effort.
That’s exactly what Green put together.
The Rhea County High School and Middle Tennessee State University product turned in the low round of the day at GreyStone Golf Club – an eight-under, 64 – to storm up the leaderboard.
He claimed the Tennessee Open title on the first playoff hole over Brad Hawkins of Knoxville when he sank a birdie putt on No. 10.
It marked the first professional victory for Green.
“It’s just crazy,” Green said. “You’re not thinking about winning, I don’t think, when you are seven back starting the day.”
“I birdied the first four holes and just got it going from there. All in all, every part of my game was clicking today. It’s great to get that monkey off my back as far as my first professional win. Now let’s see what we can do the rest of the year.”
Green finished the 54 holes of regulation at 14-under, 202, as did Hawkins, a former standout at Tusculum University in Greeneville.
Green’s final round 64 set a new tournament record for lowest final 18-hole score by the tournament winner. The previous mark was 65, held by Mike Nelms in 1981, Bryce Ledford in 2009 and Grant Leaver in 2010.
Green started Thursday with four straight birdies and added two more on holes 8 and 9 to make the turn at 12-under for the tournament. He birdied 11 and 17 in addition to seven pars on the back nine to post a 14-under in the clubhouse.
Hawkins had already posted a 14-under two groups early. With only three groups remaining on the course, the two competitors then waited to see what Round Two leader Hunter Wolcott would do.
Wolcott entered the final round at 13-under, one stroke ahead of his brother Ben Wolcott and two strokes ahead of Doug Barron.
That final group never could get anything going on Thursday, though, as all three players shot even par, 72.
Hunter Wolcott was at 15-under at one point after birdies on 9, 11 and 12. However he bogeyed 15 to drop into a three-way tie with Hawkins and Green with the latter two already in the clubhouse.
Wolcott parred 16 and 17, needing a birdie on 18 to win outright and a par to get into a playoff. His par putt just missed on the low side though, dashing the storybook hopes he had of winning on his home course in front of a large crowd that had amassed to cheer him on.
Wolcott finished in a tie with Hunter Richardson (Clarksville) for third at 13-under. Wolcott was the top-finishing amateur.
Ben Wolcott (Burns) tied for fifth with 2016 tournament champion Jason Millard (Murfreesboro) at 12-under.
There were six players tied for seventh place at 11-under, including former champion Ledford. Joining him were East Tennessee State University golfer Austin Carter (Kingsport), UNC-Charlotte golfer Trey Tobias (Franklin), Barron (Germantown), Bobby Cochran (Germantown), and Connor Froning (Knoxville).
Green played for Tennessee Golf Foundation president Whit Turnbow when Turnbow was the men’s golf coach at MTSU. His senior year (2011-12) he won two tournaments and was 11th in the nation in scoring average. Prior to arriving in Murfreesboro, he won two TSSAA individual state titles at Rhea County High School.
Since graduating from MTSU, Green has been trying to make it playing professional golf. His immediate future plans involve mini tours and Monday qualifiers.
Green is the second consecutive MTSU product to win the Tennessee Open, joining last year’s winner Joey Savoie.
“I kind of lost my way there for a little while (after college) but I think I’m fighting back,” Green said. “Things feel good right now, so I’m excited to see what the rest of the year holds.”
“Confidence is everything in this game, and momentum is everything. Having both of those right now is going to be good.”
A total of 18 players reached double digits under par for the tournament. Fifty-three players finished at under par or better.
FINAL SCORING: https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/1860515
2019 TENNESSEE OPEN
GREYSTONE GOLF CLUB
FINAL ROUND, JUNE 6
Hunter Green 68-70-64–202 (won on first playoff hole)
Brad Hawkins 69-68-65–202
Hunter Richardson 69-68-66–203
Hunter Wolcott (a) 63-68-72–203
Jason Millard 68-70-66–204
Ben Wolcott 66-66-72–204
Austin Carter (a) 67-68-70–205
Trey Tobias (a) 65-69-71–205
Doug Barron 70-63-72–205
Bobby Cochran 68-69-68–205
Connor Froning 72-66-67–205
Bryce Ledford 71-66-68–205
Paul Apyan 65-73-68–206
Casey Flenniken 67-71-68–206
Ryan Hall (a) 72-65-69–206
Brooks Thomas 66-70-70–206
Bryce Lewis (a) 72-69-65–206
Jack Rhea (a) 66-70-70–206
Tyler Johnson (a) 70-71-66–206
Stoney Crouch 67-73-68–208
Nolan Ray (a) 67-67-74–208
Lake Johnson 70-72-66–208