KODAK, Tenn. (Tour Release) -- In his second season on the NGA/Hooters Tour, University of Tennessee alumnus David Skinns won three times, amassed over $134,000 in winnings and captured Player of the Year honors. Unfortunately for Skinns, that was in 2008 and the Lincoln, England, native hadn’t won since. But a trip to his former stomping grounds rekindled the former All-SEC team member’s game this week.
Skinns shot a final-round 64 to come from behind and win the
NGA/Hooters Tour’s River Islands Golf Club Classic, just miles from
where he played his collegiate golf, by one shot over 2010 PGA Tour
member Chris Wilson.
“It was awesome to win, but it was really special to see all those
familiar faces,” said Skinns, who played at UT from 2001 to 2005. “It’s
really nice to win this early in the season; it takes the pressure off.”
Skinns started the final round of the $200,000 event tied for fourth
and three shots off the lead, knowing a hot start was important to pull
himself into contention. After back-to-back pars to start the round,
Skinns ran off five birdies over the final seven holes on the front nine
to make the turn in 31.
“I really felt like I had a chance after the front nine,” said Skinns.
“The front nine was tough and the wind was blowing today, so I knew I
probably made up some shots. But with the guys I was chasing, I knew I had keep my foot on the gas pedal on the backside.”
Skinns did just that, recording three more birdies to finish with the
clubhouse lead. Wilson, of Dublin, Ohio, had a chance to tie Skinns with a birdie on the 72nd hole, but he carded a par on the final hole of
regulation to finish one shot back.
Despite the windy conditions, Skinns and Wilson both managed to go
bogey-free around the 7,001-yard layout in the final round.
“The key today for me was making no mistakes,” said Skinns, who won $28,000. “I played well all week, but having no mistakes in the final round was very important.”
After starting the final round with a share of the lead, Wilson shot a
final-round 68 and finished solo second, earning $13,905.
Third round co-leader Brandon Brown, of Shelbyville, Ky., stayed in
touch with Wilson and Skinns until recording a bogey and a double bogey on holes No. 14 and 15. Brown, who won earlier this season, rebounded with back-to-back birdies, but the Eastern Kentucky alum’s 71 in the final round left him T3 and four shots back of Skinns.
Justin Smith, who also started the final round with a share of the
lead, carded a final-round 71 to finish T3 with Brown. Smith, who played on the Nationwide Tour in 2010, and Brown pocketed $8,405 each.
Former Vol Philip Pettitt Jr., of Murfreesboro, Tenn., made a nice
charge up the leaderboard in the final round. Pettitt, who won last
week’s event, carded a 66 on Sunday to move from T12 to T5. First round co-leader Justin Yoder, of Warrensburg, Mo., picked up his best finish of his rookie season by joining Pettitt at T5. Both golfers earned
Manuel Villegas (Medellin, Columbia) and Robert Streb (Edmond, Okla.) both matched Skinns’ 64 for the low round of the day and finished T7. After setting the course record with a 63 in the second round, Ryan Henry (Broken Arrow, Okla.) shot a 70 on Sunday to finish T7.
Nationwide Tour member and Memphis, Tenn., native Casey Wittenberg finished T10 with Lee Williams (Alexander City, Ala.), Ryan Spears (Del City, Ala.) and Chris Wolfe (Niceville, Fla.).