By Chris Dortch, Staff Writer
last updated 03/15/06 04:55 PM

Schreiner wins 2003 Men's Metro With Final Round 69

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"The putting stroke of champions"
Tom Schreiner makes 5-footer for par at #18
to win by 1

"Itís a great feeling;  in 1995, I was still playing the Industrial League. I didnít start playing too many local tournaments until the next year."

2003 Men's Metro Champion
Tom Schreiner

After 53 holes at Moccasin Bend, the Chattanooga Menís Metro championship came down to a short-game contest on Sunday.

Tom Schreiner and Clay Smith were tied for the lead after Smithís clutch birdie at No. 17. One player knew where the championship stood. The other didnít.

"I couldnít wait to get to the 18th tee," Schreiner said. "I just wanted to try and make a [par] four and if Clay made a three, then good for him."

For his part, Smith didnít know where the match stood. "I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own score," he said. Like Schreiner, Smith just wanted to go to 18, reduced from an easily reachable par 5 to a long par 4 for the tournament, and make a par.

Both players missed the green with their approach shots, but Smith seemed to have the advantage. His ball came up 15 feet short of the green, and with a back pin placement, he had plenty of putting surface on which to negotiate his chip. By comparison, Schreiner seemed dead. His ball sunk into four-inch rough on the slope of a bunker 20 feet from the green.

Schreiner went first, and with an aggressive pass with his sand wedge, thrashed his ball onto the green, five feet from the hole. Smith used a 64-degree wedge to send a low-running shot toward the hole, but watched in disbelief when the ball rolled 15 feet past.

When Smithís putt just stayed out of the hole on the left hand side, it was up to Schreiner to win the tournament. He quickly studied his par putt and calmly sank it. Schreinerís 69 gave him a three-day total of 5-under par 205, a shot ahead of Smith, who shot 72 on Sunday. Richard Keene also shot 72 and tied for third at 210 with a fast-charging Potter, who shot a final-round 67.

"Itís a great feeling," said Schreiner, a relative newcomer to the local amateur golf scene. "In 1995, I was still playing the Industrial League. I didnít start playing too many local tournaments until the next year."

Since that time, Schreiner has showed up in the thick of things often enough that his fellow competitors have to respect him. He was in the final group at the Metro when it was played at The Honors in 1995, and again at the Brainerd Invitational. Last year, he played with Danny Green and Richard Keene in the final pairing of the Tennessee Mid-Amateur at Black Creek.

The turning point in Schreinerís tournament golf career came a year ago at the Bear Trace Invitational, when he out dueled Potter in a playoff and won.

"That gave me some confidence," Schreiner said.

Smith began the day with a two-shot lead over Schreiner and Keene. After an opening-nine 1-over-par 36, Smith still led by two shots over Schreiner and three over Keene.

Things began to get interesting when Smith bogeyed No. 10 and 12. With six holes to play and the par-5 13th awaiting, Smith was 3-under for the tournament, Keene and Schreiner 2-under.

Keeneís drive found the left fairway bunker, forcing him to lay up. He eventually parred the hole. Schreiner and Smith both tried to reach the green in two, their shots coming to rest just off the putting surface. Both got up and down for birdie.

At that point, Schreiner began to take control. At the par-3 14th, he drained a 30-footer for birdie to tie Smith for the lead at 4-under.

"That was the best putt Iíve ever hit in my life," Schreiner said. "After the ball had rolled five feet, I knew it was in the hole."

Schreiner wasnít finished. He hit a sand wedge from 100 yards to about four inches for another birdie at 16. Keene also birdied the hole to move to 3-under and pull within a shot of Smith and two of Schreiner.

When Smith birdied No. 17, he jumped back into a tie with Schreiner, setting up the final holeís dramatics.

Even Keene still had a chance at 18. After watching Schreiner and Smith miss the green, he wanted desperately to throw a shot close to the hole and make a birdie. But his approach went wide left and into the bunker. He couldnít save par.

When Smith couldnít make his four, the match was in the hands of Schreiner, who completed a heroic up and down when he sank his crucial par putt.

"My ball was all the way at the bottom of the rough," Schreiner said in sizing up his third shot. "I just wanted to open the blade of my sand wedge, hit it firm and get it on the green. I didnít want to get cute and try to hit it perfect and then leave it way short."

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