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Thomas driving for more in 2011

Perhaps Mitchell Thoma’s Callaway-to-Ping driver transition is the missing element, giving him just enough extra off the tee to win a Region 2-AAA golf title.

Finishing second in region last season at Oak Ridge Country Club, this Farragut High School rising senior said he’s now more accurate off the tee.

That goes with an iron game he labeled “solid” and putting as his biggest strength.

“I’ve got a Ping Rapture as my driver,” Mitchell said of the switch he made in May. “The funny thing is it’s not even my driver; a friend of mine who works at [Willow Creek Golf Club], we were just out here playing one day.

“I did hit a Callaway, and I was just hitting it bad, and me and him switched drivers just to see if we’d like it, and it worked out,” he added. “I like this [Ping] driver more than the other one.

“Ping’s a little more forgiving club, and it’s just one of those feelings that, I mean, I may hit the Callaway farther, but I’ve got more confidence in Ping. It looks better to me.”

Mitchell also credited “a lot of hard work, a lot of practice” and working with his swing coach, Brad Rose of Willow Creek, for his more accurate ball striking.

“Last year I was a little longer. Maybe I hit one really good one. But I’d hit one really bad one,” he said. “It’s a lot more consistent this year.”

Thomas, 17, is the “senior partner” in FHS’s “Thomas & Thomas” powerhouse boys golf duo, battling for team No. 1 with rising junior Stuart Thomas.

“We are no relation; we get that all the time,” Mitchell said. “Ever since, probably, my seventh-grade year and his sixth-grade year we’re always alternating one and two.

“I imagine this year will be the same,” Mitchell added. “Stuart’s a great player.”

“And we’ve got a solid [No.] 3-man this year, senior Cole Selecman, he’s really coming along well. He’s working with Brad Rose.”

FHS head coach Jonathan Cox said junior Chris Hutson and senior David Meece are “two more guys with state tournament experience.”

“Three incoming freshmen could help us out,” Cox added about Lucas McIntosh, Conner McKay and Mark Dalton.

As for Mitchell’s putting strength, “I spend a lot of hours on the putting green; I just know it’s the most important part of your game,” he said. “Even though I may not hit the ball well that day, I’ve got my putter to rely on. … I’ve got a Rife putter that I’ve always loved.”

In the U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifier in Murfreesboro, “I got second alternate in that; I shot 72-70 [2-under-par]” Mitchell said. “That was a solid tournament for me. If you would have told me I was going in there shooting 2-under, I would have taken it. … My ball striking was amazing, I didn’t miss many greens. I’m a good enough putter that I’m going to roll a couple in, in each round.”


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