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Tifton pro Davis earns his first pro victory, sense of belonging ‘out here,’ in a playoff at the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational

Tifton, Ga., pro Jared Davis holds the big check and reflects on the journey that led to his first pro win Sunday at Cane Creek Golf Course. Davis won the pro side of the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational in a playoff.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Jared Davis always thought he had the game to play with the guys who play the game for a living, but when you play for so long without seeing tangible results it can start to get discouraging. On Sunday, he proved he belonged.

The 26-year-old Tifton, Ga., pro and former small-college football player scored his first victory in 20 career starts when he made a seven-foot par putt on the second hole of sudden death to beat close friend Alex Tull for the pro side of the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational.

In the year he’s been a pro Davis has cashed only two checks before Sunday’s $2,500 payday – a $500 fifth-place finish here last year and $40 in a one-day Emerald Coast Tour event in Auburn in July.

“I was one good week away from being over the hump,” Davis said. “I’ve been saying for a month now if I can get one ball to bounce my way instead of the opposite way then we’re in it. Finally put three good rounds of golf together. It’s amazing how much weight this is off your shoulders … to know that you belong here. It’s awesome.

“For so long I felt like a purse-padder, somebody who’s just playing to make the purse bigger. When you feel like that and you know you can play but you haven’t proven it to yourself, it makes it hard. It’s a lot of weight off your shoulders. There’s a difference in telling yourself you can do it and actually seeing it happen.

“Everybody out here asks that question. Now you go, I can play, let’s turn one win into four. It’s not as hard now that you’re over the hump, but you’ve still gotta do it.”

Davis and Tull both finished 54 holes tied at 9-under-par 207, three shots behind amateur medalist Dalton Chandler. Davis shot a final-round 67 that featured four birdies in a seven-hole stretch midway through the round and a birdie on 18.

Tull shot 69 for the third day in a row and had a chance to win in regulation but failed to get up and down for birdie from the greenside bunker on 18. He also missed a seven-foot birdie putt on the first hole of the playoff.

“It felt good getting here; I’m just glad I was able to be here,” Tull said. “I’ve been grinding out here for two years; it’s been a fun experience. This is me just getting my head in the door so there are very good things to come.”

Davis had to make a nervy six-foot putt for par just to keep the playoff alive. He had the advantage on the second hole when Tull pulled his tee shot and it caught the fairway slope and bounded into the heavy grass of the hazard. They found his ball and Tull punched it back into the fairway, but he was now laying 3 a few steps from Davis’ drive.

Both players found the middle tier of the green with their approach, but the pin was on the top. Davis’ 20-foot putt didn’t make it up the hill and stopped on the upslope some eight feet short. Tull had a similar uphill putt for par and ran it past the hole. Davis ran his putt home for the win.

“Now that you’ve done it, in your mind, you tee it up and you know I belong out here. Once you prove that to yourself it’s a lot different than going, man, I know I belong here but I just hadn’t really figured it out yet. It’s a big jump.”

Alabama Open champion Forrest Knight of Jemison finished third among the pros, passing 11 players on the leaderboard with a final-round 63. After posting 74s in each of his first two rounds, he birdied three of his first five holes Sunday, four of his first six on the back and finished with an eagle on 18.

“I hit the ball a lot better today,” he said. “I kept the ball in the fairway so it was easier to hit irons closer than coming out of the rough. That was the big difference, and just making putts.

“After yesterday I was just trying to get back and win a little money, and I think I did that. It feels real good after shooting two 74s to come out with a 63.”

The three-time Division II All-American is developing a reputation for being a closer since turning pro earlier this summer; he shot 61 in the final round of the Alabama Open.

If he hadn’t taken a 10 on the par-5 eighth hole during Friday’s opening round – when he was 3-under-par at the time — he would have won his third pro title in three events by a shot.

“You can’t ever (think) that,” he said. “Things happens they shouldn’t, but everyone has one every now and then.”

Corinth, Miss., pro Alex Tull plays from the hazard on the second hole of his sudden-death championship playoff with eventual winner Jared Davis.

On the cover: Jared Davis is greeted by Emerald Coast Tour executive director Geno Celano as he comes off the second green having just won his first tournament as a pro.


At Cane Creek GC
Championship flight
Final leaderboard

a-Dalton Chandler 66-69-69—204
a-Gary Wigington 68-66-71—205
x-Jared Davis, Tifton, Ga. $2,500 72-68-67—207
Alex Tull, Corinth, Miss. $1,500 69-69-69—207
Forrest Knight, Jemison $750 74-74-63—211
Brady Hollenbacher, Fleming Is., Fla. $450 69-73-70—212
Kyle Sapp, Gardendale $450 69-68-75—212
a-Chad Calvert 72-67-75—214
Wilson McDonald, Birmingham 71-67-77—215
a-Jeremy McGatha 75-71-69—215
a-Brennan Clay 72-75-69—216
a-Ty Cole 71-72-74—217
a-Caleb McKinney 70-74-73—217
Jared Bettcher, Auburn 68-76-75—219
a-Tomas Bruchmann 72-78-72—222
a-Jeremy Willis 75-70-80—225
a-Matt Rogers 71-76-78—225
a-Caleb Bowen 74-75-76—225
Jordan Anderton, Birmingham 76-75-78—229
Alden Fortner, Dothan 76-78-75—229
Ethan Roberts, Anniston 76-81-79—236
a-Layton Bussey 78-83-77—238
a-Dillon Sartain 76-77-86—239
a-Frank Brady 77-82-85—244
a-Luke Armstrong 79-87-83—247
a-Daily Thomas 79-79-89—247
a-Clayton Chandler 89-81-NC
Glenn Northcutt, Dothan 73-WD
x-won on the second playoff hole

Pro winner Jared Davis is flanked by ECGT executive director Geno Celano (L), Cane Creek pro Kenny Szuch (R) and the other money winners from the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational Sunday. The players (from left): Brady Hollenbacher, Forrest Knight, runner-up Alex Tull, Davis and Kyle Sapp.

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