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Bucs' Hickman busy posting low rounds

Joe Avento • Jul 25, 2014 at 10:32 PM

Chris Hickman has spent the last two summers showing he can be quite a front-runner. Once he gets a lead in a golf tournament, he figures out a way to close it out.

Hickman, who will be a junior at East Tennessee State this fall, has won the last two Delaware State Amateur championships, being the only player under par each time. Last year, he was 20 under and won by 21 strokes. Yes, 21 strokes.

He won it again this summer, by a mere seven.

After finishing 18th at the North-South Amateur in Pinehurst, North Carolina, earlier this summer, Hickman headed to Portsmouth, Virginia, the site of the Eastern Amateur. That’s where he had a career round, posting a 61, his lowest ever. He made birdies on each of the last three holes to finish off his historic effort at Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club.

“I wasn’t really expecting it, so it was a nice surprise when I got off the 18th hole,” he said. “It’s the lowest tournament round and my lowest round in general, so I was really pleased with that. It was really nice.”

Hickman, a lefty, went on to win the Eastern Amateur by eight shots after finishing 22 under par and breaking the scoring record in the 58-year-old prestigious tournament by two shots. He had rounds of 64, 65 and 68 after his 61.

“I got a little nervous in the final round, but I was able to collect myself,” he said.

Hickman has been working with famed sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella, whose list of clients includes recent British Open champion Rory McIlroy.

“At the Eastern Amateur, I wasn’t really too focused about my score,” he said. “I got out of worrying about results and into the process. I wasn’t thinking too much about my scores, just trying to let it happen.

“It kind of just happened. I didn’t really have any expectations. It surprised me.”

Hickman says he’s looking forward to a big junior year. The Bucs are scheduled begin the fall season Sept. 22 at the Inverness Intercollegiate Invitational in Toledo, Ohio.

“I’ve had a good summer,” he said. “I’m really excited about getting the season going and where my game is. I’ve really improved mentally working with Dr. Rotella. He’s helped me a lot. I think I’ll have a lot of confidence to take into the college season. I am looking forward to the season.”

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