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Thomas overcomes mistakes for ‘Club’ repeat

Stuart Thomas admitted to bouts of complacency and “nerves getting to me” while in defense of Fox Den Country Club Men’s Championship Flight title.

Though Thomas is just 15, never doubt his ability to shine under pressure: he won last year’s Champ Flight title in a playoff, then beat Gary Siddons in a semifinal playoff Aug. 21.

This Farragut High sophomore went back-to-back, once again claiming the big FDCC cup trophy, slipping past Eric Johnson 3 & 1 during the 36-hole match play final Sunday, Aug. 22.

Up three with only three holes to play, Thomas was visibly upset with his tee shot at No. 16, leaving it well short and to the left.

“My nerves kinda got to me there a little bit, but I battled through on [No.] 17 and got it done,” Thomas said about dropping 16 but winning the crown with a par on 17.

Planning to “hit it on the middle of the green” at 16, Thomas added, “That’s always hard for me because I’m always the go-getter, go for the pin. It just got away from me.”

Thomas said his “low” second shot at 17 was the key after his tee shot came to rest a little left.

“I had three feet between the ground and the tree, so I had to keep it pretty low and hit it a long ways,” he said. “I kinda got lucky on that one, I’d have to say.

“I did what I had to do to win.”

Thomas, who has moved up to No. 1 for the two-time defending Class AAA state champion Admirals, roared out of the gate with “a great start” using “four or five birdies on the front nine.”

“I was sticking everything.”

The result was a five-hole lead after nine holes before Johnson rallied.

”I got in my mindset, ‘I’ve got a big lead, I can just knock it around now,’ and you can’t do that,” Thomas said about that lead almost slipping away.

Johnson’s birdie at No. 1 to begin the second 18 holes cut the margin to one.

But he never got closer.

“I didn’t play as well as I’d like,” Johnson said. “I gave away a few shots here and there.”

About Thomas, Johnson said, “Stuart’s strong, he’s real good off the tee. He putts it pretty good, too. He played pretty well, all the way around.”

Thomas reflected back on 2009 and his performance as a 14-year-old FHS freshman — beating Admirals teammate Brandon Rodgers, then a senior, in a playoff. “I didn’t expect to win going in,” he said.

But in 2010, “I would accept nothing but a win. It was a little more pressure this year.”


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