CHATTANOOGA – The history books of the Tennessee Four-Ball will show that few duos have been as formidable in tournament history as Ryan Greer and Jack Smith.
The Knoxville natives have played in the event together 11 times. The have advanced to the championship match six times, and now they have their name on the trophy twice.
Greer and Smith claimed their second four-ball state title Friday afternoon as they closed out Lance Simpson and Jack Morris 3&2 at Black Creek Club. The championship came five years to the date after their first one on the same course.
“To have our names on this trophy twice, especially with such a great field, is very special to us,” said Greer, who also won the 2014 Tennessee Mid-Am championship.
“We played two really good players today in Jack and Lance. They are going to be outstanding players. The field for this tournament has been so strong, especially the last few years going back to Cherokee in 2019. We are certainly honored to win it.”
Greer and Smith won the Tennessee Four-Ball at Black Creek in 2016 as well.
They first because partners for the event over a decade ago when Greer coached Smith during his prep career at Webb School at Knoxville. Their friendship grew as Smith went on to become a regular for the University of Tennessee squad from 2013-2017.
“We compliment each other’s games very well and I think that’s the key,” Greer said as to the success the duo has had in four-ball competition. “I feel like I’m pretty consistent, and Jack hit’s it a lot further than I do.”
“We made one bogey all week, and I think that’s key in four ball. You can put pressure on your opponent and make birdies, but also if you don’t make any bogeys then that also continues to put pressure on the opponent as well.”
The match featured the experienced duo of Greer and Smith against two of the state’s top young guns in Lance Simpson and Jack Morris. Morris won the Tennessee Junior Amateur title last year and just finished up his freshman year at Lipscomb University. Simpson won the 2020 Tennessee PGA Junior Championship is about to join the University of Tennessee team.
Simpson and Morris defeated two teams featuring former tournament champions in their run to the finals – 2019 winners Jack Uselton and Will Brooks, as well as Whit Turnbow (2005) and Payne Denman (2014). They also beat 2018 runners-up Mitch and Chip Thomas in the quarterfinals.
Greer and Smith jumped out to a quick lead in the finals as Greer ran in birdie putts on holes 1 and 3 to put his side 2-up. The match never got back to square, though Simpson and Morris briefly made it 1-up thru 6.
Greer chipped in from off the green for birdie on nine and then ran in a 30-footer on 13 to go 3-up. Simpson and Smith won 14, but back-to-back birdies by Smith closed out the match on the 16th hole.
“I think most people would tell you, any type of team format, similar to the Ryder Cup…four-ball or alternate shot where it’s two-on-two, they like that difference sort of challenge,” Smith said about what makes he and Greer successful in the four-ball format. “You are out there competing with someone else against another team instead of the grind of stroke play.”
Friday started with the semifinal matches, and there was no shortage of drama as both matches went to extra holes. Simpson and Morris got by Turnbow, president of the Tennessee Golf Foundation, and Denman, a former Middle Tennessee State standout, on the 19th hole when Simpson ran in a 20-footer. Greer and Smith needed two extra holes to advance past Tennessee Wesleyan golfers Cade Puryear and John Houk.
The semifinals featured four of the top five seeds in the 32-team bracket.