Danny Green said he’d be difficult to beat if he just played his game in the Tennessee Senior Amateur golf tournament.
As it turned out, he didn’t play his game in the final round until late, but it still was good enough to win.
Green overcame a two-stroke deficit over the final four holes and earned his 11th state championship with a routine par on the final hole Friday at Blackthorn Club when Tim Dinwiddie made a bogey after hooking his tee shot into a fairway bunker.
“I know if I played my game all week I would be hard to beat,” said Green, a Jackson native who closed with a 73 and finished four under par for 54 holes. “I didn’t play that well but I got lucky and pulled it out.
“I just turned 55 and this will rejuvenate me a little bit to try to win a few more. It’s not exciting as it used to be. But this is why we come. It’s a long drive and I came to win.”
Dinwiddie and Green began the day tied for the lead at five under par and after both players struggled on the front nine, Dinwiddie pulled two ahead with birdies at the 13th and 14th holes.
That’s when Green showed his championship pedigree. The 10-time Tennessee amateur player of the year made a seven-foot birdie putt at the 15th hole to move within one stroke. He then chipped in for another birdie at the par-3 16th, using a 4-wood from just off the green.
“I was probably gonna use my putter on that shot, but he putted from the front of the green real close so I knew he would make a par,” Green said. “I just said use the shot you know you can make it with. I thought I had a chance to make it with my 4-wood. It come out good and had the right line. It got me even and gave me a chance to win.”
Green’s back-to-back birdies didn’t shock Dinwiddie.
“You have to expect a guy of that caliber to make them,” said Dinwiddie, who lives in Afton. “You have to think he’s gonna make birdies.”
That left the two golfers who were tied for the lead after the first and second rounds still knotted up with two holes to play. Routine pars on the 17th left them even standing on the 18th tee.
Green’s tee shot found the fairway while Dinwiddie hooked a 3-wood toward a set of deep bunkers.
“Anywhere but there,” he said.
Dinwiddie fluffed his shot out of the soft sand, leaving him a long pitch to the green which he managed to get within 15 feet.
Green found the green and eased his 25-foot birdie putt near the hole, forcing Dinwiddie to make his par putt to force a playoff. When the ball slid just by the hole for a 74 and a three-under-par total, Green was the champion.
“I was running out of holes, but I read something in a book one time and it said when you’ve got four holes to go, that’s really eight holes to go because I get to play four and the other guy’s got to play four,” Green said. “He hadn’t hit many bad shots all week, but when you’re under pressure and you’ve never won a state championship, it shows itself some.”
Dinwiddie was disappointed when it was over, but he said he still enjoyed the heat of the competition.
“That’s why you play, to get into contention,” he said. “Once you get there, it’s fun.”
Buzz Fly of Memphis finished third at one under. He was tied with Green at two under with four holes to go.
Chuckey’s Mike Freels finished fourth after a closing 67 got him back to even par. He made 14 birdies in the tournament, second to Green’s 15, after not making any in a first-round 78.
Kingsport’s Bill Argabrite finished fifth at three over par after a final-round 75.
Ronnie Law won the super seniors division with a two-over-par total. He came into the final round with a five-shot lead over runner-up Mike Nixon but was up by only one on the final hole.
Law made birdie at 18 to win by two, shooting a last-round 77.