Tommy Carpenter reaches Regions 'goal' with senior division title

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THOMSON — There were winners all around at the final Regions Bank Amateur Series event of the regular season, headed by Tommy Carpenter, who made series history.

In the Camellia Classic at Belle Meade Country Club, Mike Jackson won the senior division title and Thomson resident Ethan Chamineak was the regular division winner, but the biggest winner was Carpenter, for his body of work this season.

Carpenter became the first golfer in series history to add a senior player of the year title to his regular division player of the year award. His regular division player-of-the-year title came in 2004.

The series started in 1988, with the senior division being added in 1995.

“It was a goal because it had never been done before,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter, 54, finished second to Jackson the senior division on Sunday, but he ended up winning the senior player of the year title by 35 points over Glen Hurt, who finished tied for sixth place after rounds of 74-73.

Players earn points for top 20 finishes in each event, with a victory worth 75 points. On Sunday, Carpenter picked up 50 points, while Hurt, last year’s senior player of the year, earned 20. Jeff Pope clinched his second consecutive regular-division player of the year title last week and didn’t play at Belle Meade.

In the regular division, the 21-year-old Chamineak, who is a sophomore on the Georgia Military College golf team, showed the form that helped him win the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III individual title last season.

In the Camellia Classic, he shot 67-70 to finish at 7-under 137 and beat Steve Foss (73-73) by seven shots.

“That kid can play,” Foss said of Chamineak, who had six birdies on Sunday at Belle Meade, which he called his home course starting at age 13 .

“I know the golf course with my eyes close,” Chamineak said. “There’s no telling how many rounds I’ve played out here.”

As for Carpenter, he was so serious about reaching his goal of being the player of the year in both divisions that he had Sage Valley head pro Jeremy Story take a look at his swing on Wednesday. Carpenter, who is a caddiemaster at Sage Valley, said he had “no clue where his swing was” the previous week at Jones Creek, when he tied for seventh place after rounds of 78-74.

Once Story corrected Carpenter’s takeaway on his swing, Carpenter went to work on the practice range.

“I had blisters on my hands,” said Carpenter, who said he hit at least 800 balls in the three days leading up the Camellia Classic.

“That’s how bad I wanted it,” Carpenter said of the player of the year title.

He ended up shooting 69-71 at Belle Meade and losing by two shots to Jackson, who had a pair of 69s.

This season, Carpenter had three victories, two runner-up finishes and the tie for seventh at Jones Creek in six starts.

One of those victories came in the Goshen Golf Classic, where Jackson was the runner-up.

Jackson and Carpenter started Sunday’s final round tied for second place, one shot behind Chuck Withers, who would shoot 75 and finish third.

Carpenter shot 1-under-par 35 on the front nine to Jackson’s 36 to take a one-shot lead. But Jackson birdied Nos. 10, 11 12 while Carpenter when birdie, bogey, par to pull away.

“Mike had a super round,” said Carpenter. “He never made mistakes to back up.”

The victory was the 65-year-old Jackson’s 14th as a senior in the series, moving him into solo second place on the career victory list. Kenny Larry has 21 and Withers and Ed Payne have 13.

It was Jackson’s first victory in more than four years.

“It’s been a long time,” said Jackson, who credited the fact that he’d played in the Georgia Senior Championship on Wednesday through Friday for keeping his game sharp.

“I’m a weekend golfer, so that helped,” he said of his three mid-week rounds. “If you play a lot of golf, it’s a lot easier to score.”

He said it won’t be another four years before his next victory.

“I’m going to win more,” he said. “I’m going to slow down in my work, exercise more and play more golf. I’ll play better next year.”


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