Lowery qualifies for TGA State Amateur Tournament

Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Cornersville grad and Martin Methodist College senior Tate Lowery shot a 71 in qualifying to earn a spot in the TGA State Amateur Tournament next week at Spring Creek Ranch Golf Club in Collierville.
Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

Cornersville’s Tate Lowery, a senior on the golf squad at Martin Methodist College, has had a long lasting love affair with the sport and combined with his relentless hard work, the ex-Bulldog lefty recently took a big step forward in the competitive arena when he shot a one-under par 71 in the qualifier at Old Fort Golf Course in Murfreesboro to earn a spot in the Tennessee Golf Association’s (TGA) State Amateur Tournament.

“I’ve been trying for a couple years and it feels good to finally qualify,” Lowery said. “My game is in a good spot, so it gives me a lot of confidence going into the actual tournament.”

“I’ve been hitting it a long way, keeping it in the fairway, getting it close with my wedges and I’m able to make some putts, so that helps my game out a lot.”

The State Am tees off on Tuesday, August 7 at the Jack Nicklaus designed Spring Creek Ranch Golf Club in Collierville.

Spring Creek Ranch is ranked by Golf Digest as number 164 in the nation and the 3rd ranked course in Tennessee with the championship tees maxed out to a massive 7,426 yards.

Lowery has never played Spring Creek Ranch, but will get to play a practice round if he so chooses beforehand.

“I’m looking forward to playing there, I’m gonna go over there and play a practice round on the sixth and the tournament starts on the seventh,” Lowery said.

Old Fort was a familiar tract and that helped as Lowery got off to a great start, shooting a two-under par 34 on the front nine and then moving to three-under with a birdie on the Par 5, 10th hole.

“I’ve played it (Old Fort) three times and I have not shot over one or two over, so I felt comfortable on the course and I love bent grass greens,” Lowery said.

Lowery slipped up for a short time, bogeying three out of the next five holes before rebounding with a birdie on the Par 3, 17th to steady the ship and post the 71, good enough to get comfortably in the State Amateur field.

“I was in a good spot, I was three under through 10, so I knew I would really have to screw up to miss the cut,” Lowery said. “I just had to play my own game and I knew it would work out from there. I’m happy with my 71, so we will see how it goes from there.”

The TGA State Amateur event is a 72-hole stroke play format with a cut to the low 60 players and ties following round two.

“There will be a lot of big DI golfers in the field, I’m from a smaller school, but it really doesn’t matter because it is all about who gets it in the hole the fewest amount of times,” Lowery said. “It’s all about that day and how your game is and the mentality you have that you can play with the best of them.”

Macon County High School grad and current Trevecca Nazarene University junior Larken Whittemore blistered the field at the Old Fort qualifier, firing a magnificent 10-under par round of 62 that included eight birdies and one eagle.

The next best score was 68 turned in by two players.

Lowery has some company for the State Am as Martin Methodist teammate and Dickson County High School grad Tyler Turpin shot an even-par 72 at the Gaylord Springs qualifying event at Nashville.

“It may feel a little lonely going over there all by yourself, so it’s nice going over there with a teammate, it will definitely take a lot of the stress off,” Lowery said. “Tyler is a good buddy of mine, so we are going to go over there and room together and play a few rounds together before the tournament and I think that will be a lot of fun.”

Lowery, who is majoring in sports management with a minor in business at Martin Methodist credits his time playing college golf in upping his game.

“Playing college golf gets you tournament ready,” Lowery said. “In college golf there are a lot of good players out there, so you have to up your game a little bit and stay up there with them.”

“That has helped me out a lot in these amateur events and playing with these big time players, so I’m happy with it and if I wasn’t playing college golf I wouldn’t be near the player I am.”

Lowery has worked at Saddle Creek Golf Club in Lewisburg since he was 16 when he started out parking golf carts before working his way up to the Pro Shop Assistant and he is appreciative of the opportunity to be in the golf business since a young age.

“Working here has been a blessing, helped my game, and the people here have given me a ton of support,” Lowery said. “They hype up my confidence which is good and I hope I can be a role model to some of these players and some of these guys.”

“I’m just looking to better my game and be a better person, it’s not about the game when it comes down to it…..it’s about building relationships and friendships with all these guys and being in good company.”

This Gary Wells Cup takes place this week and Lowery remembers those days playing against his other buddies in the county.

“Back in high school I was a little bit of an underdog to be honest with you, I didn’t have the game some of those guys did, but I hung in there and competed,” Lowery said. “It was a lot of fun playing in that county rivalry and I have to say I have gotten a lot better since then.”

“I hope the Gary Wells Cup will continue, it’s a fun event and I hope Cornersville can come in there and sweep it away from Marshall County.”

MCHS has won the event every year since its inception in 2012.

Lowery has aspirations to become a professional golfer after college and his favorite PGA pro is Ricky Fowler.

“Since I’m a lefty I’ve always liked Bubba Watson because of his creativity,” Lowery said. “I also like the older guys like Phil Mickelson, but I would say my overall favorite golfer is Ricky Fowler because of just how he is with the fans, he is just a great guy and a good role model.”

Look out for Lowery as he continues to improve his game and hopefully someday take it out on tour.

“It’s definitely a goal of mine to see how good I can get,” Lowery added. “I’m going to try to get better every day and see where it takes me and try to make something of it.”