Win sends Snell to nationals

Friday, August 5, 2016
Henry Horton Assistant PGA Professional Kevin Snell proudly displays his hardware that he earned after capturing the National Car Rental Tennessee Assistant PGA Championship last week at The Governors Club in Brentwood. Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

Henry Horton assistant professional Kevin Snell needed some late round magic to hold off the competition at the National Car Rental Tennessee Assistant PGA Championship last week at The Governors Club in Brentwood.

Snell, the 2013 winner, carded a 66-71 two day total of 137 to outlast McCabe assistant Josh Bevell, who came in with 72-67-139 to place second.

National bound

"I am extremely excited to get to go back to the National Tournament again and I am looking forward to it," Snell said. "It always good to win, it's just a special deal for me."

Erik Lundblad from Cherokee Country Club finished in third place, shooting a two day score of 71-70-141.

All three players qualified for the 2016 Assistant PGA Professional Championship at the PGA Golf Club, Wanamaker Course in Port St. Lucie, Florida October 27-30.

Uncertain weather conditions hung over the event, but the competitors fought through without incident.

On day one, Lundblad got off to a solid start, shooting two-under par on the front side and two more birdies on the back nine set up a stellar round before a pair of bogies halted his attempt to go low as he finished with a 71.

Great start

Snell and Alex Cox were many groups behind Lundblad and Cox played well enough to match the 71, but it was Snell who had the hot hand for the day.

Snell played an almost flawless round of golf with six birdies and no bogies in his six-under par round of 66 to take a four-shot into the final round.

His 66 also tied the tournament course record at The Governor's Club.

Snell had a four-stroke lead as he teed off in round two and said, "That was the first time I had a four-shot lead and I was pretty nervous. There are a lot of great young players that get on hot streaks and put up some big numbers."

Close call

Bevell and Braxton Hunter, who shot 72 and 71 respectively in round one went to work early on and both made the turn with identical scores of 32 on the front nine.

Hunter cooled off on his final nine holes, but Bevell continued to give Snell a run for his money with two more birdies and a bogey to card a 67.

Snell, who airmailed a wedge over the green that led to a bogey on the first hole came back to shoot even par on the front nine.

"I said Oh Boy after I airmailed that green, but the experience that I have helped a bunch," Snell said. "I don't play much anymore, but I can go back and use that experience to calm myself and settle down."

Turning point

Although Snell began to feel the heat from Bevell, the Eagleville High School graduate managed to maintain a one-stroke lead after a bogey on the 12th hole that was evened out with a birdie on 14.

To Snell, the turning point of the match came late on the tough 190-yard par 3 17th hole when he blocked his tee into the right rough, short siding himself.

His chip shot was perfect, leaving an eight-foot par putt that he drained to maintain a one-stroke lead, headed to the final hole.

"Sometimes those pars are better than birdies," Snell said. "Seventeen is a hole that is downhill, creek's left, big bunker right and not much green where the pin was and I hit right into the rough and I think, eight feet was the best I could do."

"When I got up and down there for par to stop me from slipping back into a tie with Josh it gave me a lot of confidence going into that last hole."

Winning shot

Snell laced his tee-shot down the middle and he sealed the deal when he hit a laser wedge shot to a foot away from the hole where he tapped in for birdie and the two-shot victory.

"To play with these guys who are such great players, it keeps you focused and pushes you along," Snell said. "I played with some really good guys that are friends of mine, so that helped also."

Snell was coming off a win at the National Car Rental Harold Eller Pro-Am at Old Hickory Country Club the week before where he scored a three-stroke win over Hunter.

The 44-year old Snell earned $1,000 with his win in the Eller Pro-Am and $2,500 for his victory last week.

Alternates

Josh Webb (72-69-141), who lost a one-hole playoff to Lundblad for the final qualifying spot, joins Casey Flenniken (72-70-142) and Mike Vance (74-69-143) as the three alternates for upcoming tournament in Florida.

"I expect to finish well in Florida," Snell said. "The last time I went after the first two rounds I was tied for third, so this year I am hoping to put four good rounds together and finish high."