Sam Bedwell Wins Metro by 3 Over Hulton
CLEVELAND, Tenn.—A couple of months ago, had Sam Bedwell given up a one-shot lead in the final round of the Chattanooga Men’s Metro with bogeys on his first two holes and a double bogey at the fifth, he might have worried a bit.
Not so on Sunday at Cleveland Golf and Country Club. Bedwell stood on the first tee at 6-under for the tournament, one shot ahead of Josh Lawson and two clear of Ryan Hulton in an all-Lee College golf team final pairing. By the team he walked off the second green, he trailed Lawson, the defending champion, and Hulton by a shot. And after a dreaded dub at the par-4 5th, he was three shots behind Lawson and in danger of falling out of contention.
But Bedwell didn’t panic. Thanks to some intense putting work with Russ Allstun at Dalton (Ga.) Country Club, Bedwell knew he could work his way back. And that’s exactly what he did, playing his final 13 holes in 4-under par for a 72 that left him at 210 for 54 holes, three shots ahead of Hulton and four in front of Lawson.
“It’s completely changed my putting,” Bedwell said of his work with Allstun. Bedwell has never been afraid to tinker with his technique on the moss. When he won the 2008 Brainerd Invitational, his first Chattanooga area title, he putted cross-handed. That lasted for a while, but by the time he started his spring season at Lee, he’d abandoned left-hand low and was searching for answers.
He found them in Dalton.
“Before I just saw a line, picked out a spot and aimed at it, usually with speed,” Bedwell said. “Now, I see the lines of the putt with arc, and I’ve got better control of my speed. On longer putts, I putt it to see if it goes in, not to try and make it go in.”
That new mindset has allowed Bedwell to drastically cut down on his three-putts and also make a bunch of medium-length putts. So he knew it was just a matter of time before he got untracked on Sunday.
That moment came at the par-5 7th, after he’d bashed out a drive that left him just a 6-iron to the green. He faced a 30-footer for eagle from the right side of the green and calmly drained the putt. That quickly he was back in the fray at 4 under, one shot behind Lawson and one ahead of Hulton, who had double-bogeyed No. 4.
The leaderboard remained unchanged through the rest of the front nine, but momentum swung in Bedwell’s favor on the par-5 10th after Lawson dumped his 3-wood second shot into the creek in front of the green.
“It was a bad decision,” Lawson said of his attempt to reach the 10th in two. “I thought the lie was better and I made a poor swing and pulled it in the creek.”
Lawson dropped in front of the creek and pitch onto the green, about 30 feet from the flag, but he three-putted, leaving him with a double-bogey seven and handing the lead to Bedwell. He wasn’t about to give it up.
Bedwell increased his advantage to two shots with a 15-foot birdie at No. 11, and though he gave back a shot with a bogey at the 220 yard par-3 13th, he bounced right back with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 14th.
Lawson, meanwhile, had bogeyed No. 12 to fall to 2-under for the tournament. That pretty much left things to Hulton, whose all-world par while battling through trees at No. 12 kept him hanging on.
Hulton also birdied No. 14 to get to 4-under, one shot behind Bedwell. The outcome was still in doubt heading to the 16th tee, where Hulton caught a bad break. Both Bedwell and Hulton hit their drives left, flirting with a large tree that flanks that side of the fairway.
“The balls were about three feet apart,” Hulton said. “I get up there and Sam has a shot and I don’t. Maybe if it was the other way around, things would have been different.”
Hulton was forced to hit a low-runner that landed short of the green, and he couldn’t save par.
Bedwell had to hook a 7-iron around the tree and onto the green, and he drained a 25-footer for birdie that slammed the door on Hulton and gave him a confidence-boosting victory. Hulton, who shot 73, finished in second place at 213.
Lawson, who heads for Memphis and the University of Tennessee’s medical school in August, shot 75 for a 214 total that left him in third place, all in all not a bad defense of the Metro title he won at Bear Trace last July.
Bedwell will now set his sights on the July 21 Tennessee Amateur qualifier at Council Fire, and hope to qualify from among a crowded field bidding to play the tournament proper at The Honors Course in August.
“I’m definitely feeling comfortable out here,” Bedwell said. “My putting’s had a lot to do with that. And it’s not even like I’m making a lot more birdies. It’s the fact I know I’m not going to make bogey from 30 feet, and I can make par-saving putts from 10 feet and in when I need them.
“It makes up for a lot when you’re making putts.”
Neil Spitalny shot 71-72 to capture his first Senior Metro title, edging Mike Jenkins and Mike Borkowski for the victory. (Click here for all Senior scores).
Spitalny became one of only a few who have won both the Men's Metro and the Senior Metro. He won the regular Men's Metro in both 1993 and 1994.
Wesley G. Brown traveling trophy