MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — Each day, Taylor Mottern’s game got better and better. His 9-under-par 207 earned him the John Atkins Trophy at The Country Club, Inc. in Morristown and the title “Tennessee Mid-Amateur Champion” on Friday.
The current women’s head golf coach at the University of the South could hardly contain his excitement at the trophy ceremony, grinning from ear to ear as the feeling sunk in.
“Awesome,” Mottern said with a smile. “It’s hard to explain the emotions going through my head right now, but thank you to everyone here.”
His stellar play stemmed from the putter, seemingly making every putt when he needed it. The skills highlighted his final nine holes where he went bogey-free while carding four birdies. The bogey-free back nine was only done by two other golfers on Friday, Eric Russell and four-time Tennessee Mid-Amateur Champion Todd Burgan.
Entering the final round, Mottern held a one-stroke lead over the rest of the field. A birdie on the first hole seemed to set the stage for a Taylor Takeover, but two consecutive three-putts put Mottern a stroke back from Tucker Jenkins who birdied the first three holes.
Mottern said those two three-putts helped him lock back into his round. It worked. The next 15 holes the Sewanee product went bogey-free with five birdies to solidify his victory. Over the course of the tournament, Mottern fired 17 birdies to just eight birdies over 54 holes.
Craig Reasor was paired with Mottern the final two days of the tournament and for good reason. He was the only player besides Mottern to finish the tournament with three under-par rounds. A birdie on 18 punctuated a strong finish in the final round, marking his third birdie in four holes and earning him a tie for second.
Winburne Hughes, a recent qualifier for the 2023 US Mid-Amateur, used a strong final round to climb the leaderboard. His 5-under-par 67 was the second-best score of the day and was a bogey-free round until the final hole. The Memphis native hopes to use this week to build momentum toward the US Mid-Amateur in a few weeks.
Tucker Jenkins gave Mottern the biggest scare on the final day, coming within one shot of the lead on the back nine. His roller-coaster round was best personified on the two-hole stretch of 14 and 15. After holing out from the fairway on 14, Jenkins settled for a bogey after his tee shot went out of bounds on the 15th hole. He finished with just six pars in his even-par final round and ended tied for fourth. Jenkins will also be headed to Sleepy Hollow in a few weeks to compete in the US Mid-Amateur Championship.
Grant Milling had an equally up and down front nine on Friday, carding three pars, three bogeys, two birdies and an eagle in that stretch. The Nashville resident ended the round even-par and in a tie for fourth.
A familiar name to round out the top five was Todd Burgan, who has won the John Atkins Trophy four times. While he started the final round at 2-over-par, his 4-under-par 68 catapulted him into a tie for fourth. Six birdies had previous Mid-Amateur participants in a state of déjà vu knowing what Burgan’s done in the final round before.
It was an excellent week of golf in East Tennessee with phenomenal and exciting golf played throughout. For full results from the 36th Tennessee Mid-Amateur Championship, click here.