CHATTANOOGA – Someone asked on social media if Tyler Johnson was playing on video-game mode.
It sure seemed that way as the University of Tennessee senior won the 106th Tennessee Amateur Championship and completely obliterated the history books in the process.
Johnson turned in a four-day total of 261, a mind-boggling 27-under on the 7,000-yard layout at Council Fire Golf Club. Equally impressive was the fact that he cruised to the title by a whopping 14 strokes over Vol teammate Cade Russell.
“I was just in a zone,” Johnson laughed following the ceremony for the Martin Condon Trophy. “I was locked in all week. Just repeating the process over and over again. It kept working and I didn’t let off the gas.”
“It’s special to win this tournament … pretty unbelievable week.”
Johnson turned in a four-day card of 69-65-64-63. Here are the tournament records he broke in the process:
- Lowest score 72 holes, 261 (previous 269, Peyton Sliger 2015, Thomas Smith 2006)
- Lowest score 72 holes relative to par, -27 (-19, Thomas Smith 2006)
- Lowest score 18 holes relative to par, -9 (-8, 11 other golfers)
- Lowest score final 36 holes, 127 (132, Bob Wolcott 1983; Craig Smith, 2012)
- Lowest score final 36 holes relative to par -17 (-11, Danny Green 1998; Casey Wittenberg 2003
- Lowest score first 54 holes 198 (199, Wes Gosselin 2016)
- Lowest score first 54 holes relative to par, -18 (-17, Wes Gosselin)
- Lowest score last 54 holes, 192 (199, Jonathan Fly 2010)
- Lowest score last 54 holes relative to par -24 (-15, Joe David 2008)
- Lowest 18-hole final round by winner 63 (65, Bob Wolcott 1983; Andrew Pratt 2004; Tim Jackson 2005; Thomas Smith 2006)
- Biggest winning margin 14 (12, Wes Gosselin 2016; Andrew Pratt 2004)
Johnson was only in a tie for ninth after an opening round -3, 69 as 28 players broke par on the first day.
2018 Tennessee Mid-Amateur champion Ryan Terry led after round one as he tied what was then the tournament record at -8, 64.
The following day saw Johnson card four birdies in his first eight holes, though, and he took a lead that he would never relinquish.
Contenders attempted to overtake him in the third round. Vol teammate Jake Hall birdies his first three holes of the day to briefly pull into a tie at the top. 17-year-old Cameron Tankersley, a recent Ole Miss commitment, kept his name near the top of the leaderboard with a third-round 64 and entered the final day two strokes back of Johnson.
The final round began as a two-horse race with the next closest competitor to Johnson and Tankersley being Lance Simpson, who was seven strokes out of the lead.
Johnson made sure it stayed that way as he birdied four of his first five holes on Friday to pull away from the field. A stretch of three straight birdies from 13-15 increased his cushion to double digits, and he added another birdie on 18 to set the single-round record.
“It was really fun,” said Johnson, who only missed seven greens in 72 rounds of golf. His four-day total included just two bogeys.
“Every once in a while you’ll get a few holes where you’ll be swinging it like that, but not for four rounds.”
Johnson celebrated on the 18th green with his parents, who surprised him by driving in from Knoxville for the final round. He didn’t know either of them were going to be able to make it.
“I was driving down number one fairway to my ball and looked over and my mom was standing over on the cart path, so I had to run over and say high to her,” he said. “Then my dad showed up on number nine as I was getting ready to make the turn. It was really cool to have them here.”
Russell finished second at -13 (72-64-72-67-275), while Matthew Copeland and Jake Hall tied for third at -11.
Rounding out the top 12 were: Ryan Terry -10, Lance Simpson -10, Cameron Tankersley -10, Michael Shears -9, Jack Smith -8, Blades Brown -8, Chase Roswall -8 and Blain Turner -8.