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Amateurs prevail at 56th Tennessee Challenge Cup

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. —- The 56th Annual Tennessee Challenge Cup, which pits the top amateurs against the top PGA professionals in the state, came down to the wire. The amateur team was able to earn a win with a narrow 17-15 win at the Council Fire Club.

Team TGA’s victory was sealed on the 18th green by Loudon’s Mike Poe as he completed the comeback over Greg Wyatt. Down two with three holes to play, Poe needed to play mistake-free golf down the stretch. After tying the 15th hole with Wyatt, Amateur captain and Tennessee Golf Hall of Famer Tim Jackson had a simple message for his long-time friend:

“I need a half point out of you.”

From there, Poe locked in. He rattled off wins on the next three holes that culminated with a spirited fist pump after draining a 12-foot birdie putt to seal the Amateur team’s win. It was just another clutch moment for the decorated basketball coach but one that was inspired by his golfing buddy.

“Before every shot on those next three holes you know what I told myself?” Poe said after his round. “I said, ‘What would Tim [Jackson] do?”

It ended with a crucial point for the Amateurs who were doing their best to preserve a lead they had built in the first round. Lucas Armstrong of Church Hill was the first of the Amateurs to secure a point, winning the match against Braxton Hunter 3 & 2 to get his team started on the right foot. It was redemption for Armstrong who fell to the Fairways & Greens Golf Association pro 5 & 3 in the 2022 Challenge Cup Matches.

Aaron Ingalls and Craig Reasor both tied their singles matches before Tim Jackson secured the next points for Team TGA. It was a resounding victory for the team’s captain, taking down Loren Personett 7 & 6 to secure a third point for the Ams.

Bryan Rodgers secured another point for the Amateurs with a solid 4 & 3 win over Scott Wilson. But it was the only point the Ams would get in the next five matches. The PGA Professionals rattled off five straight match victories to put the pressure on the final four matches.

Tucker Jenkins and Jack Smith closed out their matches before getting to the 18th hole. Jenkins defeated Scott Masters 4 & 3 while Smith closed out Kevin Snell on the 16th green with a 3 & 2 win. Those two points combined with Poe’s match flip secured the victory for the Tennessee Golf Association.

The narrow margin of victory was thanks to some strong play from the Amateurs in Round One Four-Ball pairings. They took home six of the eight available points to build a strong lead, not losing a single match.

The tandem of Alan Jones and John Thomas secured the first match win for Team TGA with a birdie on 18 from the Challenge Cup rookie Jones. The other three teams to secure a full point were the duos of Jackson and Steve Golliher, Craig Reasor and Mark Harrell, and Mike Poe and Bryan Rodgers.

Things were much closer in the Foursomes, or alternate shot, round Monday afternoon. Team PGA got a point back, winning four of the eight matches and tying a fifth. Entering the singles matches, Team TGA held a 9.5-6.5 advantage but needed seven points to take control of the John Deal Cup while Team PGA only needed to get to 16 points to tie the Amateurs and retain possession of the cup.

In the end, the Amateurs got a half-point more than they needed to win for the third time in four years, though the professionals still own the overall record advantage. The current standings are now 32-24 in favor of the professionals.

For full results from the 2023 Tennessee Challenge Cup Matches, click here.

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