COOKEVILLE, Tenn. --- Three rigorous days on the golf courses of Cookeville culminated in victory for Blake Garrison and Dustin Thomas at Ironwood Golf Course on Sunday afternoon. The pair shot a 59 on day three to finish –41 on the weekend and collect the $1,000 grand prize in the Pepsi Bobby Nichols Scramble presented by Budweiser.
This was the second time that the pair won the Scramble at Ironwood, the first being three years ago in 2009.
"My family has pretty much run this course since Coach Nichols passed," Garrison said. "It's always great to win, no matter where you're playing, but here it is just a little bit more special.
"We played great this weekend though, we played all of the par threes under I think, which really set us up to have a chance to win it early."
Thomas and Garrison kicked off the Scramble weekend at the Cookeville Golf Club with a -16, which worked to put them in the hunt early after day one on Friday. They recorded a 12 under par on Saturday at White Plains to head into Sunday’s championship flight in first place with a –28 and a 2:00 p.m. tee time.
The duo recorded a –13 in the final flight, with 11 birdies, one eagle hole and six par holes on the day. Their final score of -41 set a new tournamenet record, surpassing the previous record of -40 in regulation play.
"Our goal was to shoot 40 under, so it's really exciting to have that goal realized," Garrison said.
Tyler Cassetty and Payne Denman, and Polk Brown and Jonathan Cox tied for second and third place on the weekend. Both teams recorded scores of -39 over three days.
Thomas and Garrison weren’t the only golfers to walk away from the Scramble with prizes to boast, but Thomas was unarguably the biggest winner of the weekend. In addition to collecting the grand prize, Thomas added to the hype with the second of hole-in-one of the weekend. He recorded an ace on the Carlen Chevrolet Car Hole, No. 14 at White Plains on Saturday, the first hole-in-one of his career. He also collected a $50 gift certificate to Cumberland Insurance as the shot was also the obvious “closest-to-the-hole.”
"Well it was hole 14 at White Plains, 175 yards, and we were struggling a little bit," Thomas said. "I remember saying to Blake, 'we need to birdie this next par three.'
"I grabbed a seven iron and just took a stock shot, and when it was in the air I just said 'please let it be right just once,'" Thomas continued. "The next thing I knew, it was in the hole. It was all kind of a blur, but it was amazing."
"All I know is that I hit it to eight feet from the pin and it didn't count!" Garrison said.
As rare as Thomas’ feats were, they actually served to add to an already memorable Scramble. Thomas’ ace was a rare second on the weekend, as the first hole-in-one of the tournament was recorded early on Friday by none other than TTU men’s basketball coach Steve Payne. Coach Payne nailed a 155-yard shot on No. 11, also at White Plains, to claim the $5,000 prize purse with the first hole-in-one of the weekend courtesy of Mid-Tenn Motorcycle.
“I knew I hit it pretty well, but really I just got lucky.” Payne said. “It wasn’t a bad way to kick off the tournament though.”
The shot also earned him a $50 prize from Cumberland Insurance.
Kurt Kallen nabbed the $500 prize purse in the putting contest, sponsored by Rodeo Bobs, while John Freeman collected $500 in the chipping contest, courtesy of Middle Tennessee Surgical Specialists. Slade Stroud cashed in on the $1,000 shoot-out sponsored by Cumberland Insurance Agency.
Other “closest-to-the-hole” winners included Kevin Maxwell , Matt Jeffers and Lee Maxwell at White Plains, and Scott Gilbert, Scott Nicholson, Chris Wills, Amanda Randolph and Ron Eschelbacher at Ironwood. Thomas and Randolph each picked up a second “closet-to-the-hole” award at the Cookeville Golf Club, while John Lee, Richard Scott and Clure Winfree rounded out the list of winners of that contest at the Club. Cumberland Insurance donated $50 gift certificates to each winner.
Savanna Rippetoe logged the women’s longest drive at both White Plains and Ironwood to pick up two $50 gift certificates from Looper Properties. Molly Phillips snagged the third women’s prize at the Club, while Mark Maberry, Ben Herren and Steve Reigle were the winners of the men’s longest drive contests. Cameron Scott, Mike Delapp and John McGuire won the senior/super senior/youth longest drive contests. Looper Properties provided prizes to all participants.
Shawn Rawdon was a par three contest winner on hole 10 of the Club for a Titleist Backpack, Tyler Cassetty won a Callaway Odyssey White Ice Putter on hole 14 at White Plains, and Brandon Ward picked up a Ping G20 driver on hole 15 at Ironwood.
“We had a phenomenal turnout for the Scramble this year, it was wonderful to see a full field of veteran participants and newcomers,” first year tournament co-director Leveda Birdwell said. “I’d like to thank all of the tournament sponsors and the entire athletic department staff, for making this event an overwhelming success.”
Below are images of the tournament contest winners. Additional images of each flight-winning team and individual tee-shot photos will be available later in the week, as will a comprehensive list of tournament scores.