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June 18, 2013

LOCAL SPORTS: Tucker excited about game, consistency

While many golf enthusiasts stayed glued to their TV sets for the U.S. Open over the weekend, Jake Tucker was returning from yet another solid performance on the links.

The former Cullman Bearcat and current Troy University golfer compiled a four-day total of 284 to finish in a tie for 10th place at the 84th annual Southeastern Amateur in Columbus, Ga. His top-10 performance comes off the back of two previous invitational wins at Cullman Golf Course and TP Country Club, respectively.

Tucker’s strong play is hardly a surprise considering the amount of time the lefty has put into his game since heading to college back in the fall of 2011.

“Ever since I’ve been at Troy, I’ve been working really hard on golf,” Tucker said. “I pretty much go to the driving range every day to hit balls and usually play some after that, too.”

His hard work has certainly paid off as of late considering the rounds Tucker has put together during his tourney wins.

At this year’s Cullman Golf Course Men’s Invitational back in May, Tucker was the only golfer to record sub-par rounds both days, firing scores of 69 and 67 en route to a 7-under finish and five-stroke victory over first-round leader Todd Lindsey.

A couple of weeks later, the sweet-swinging lefty saved his best day for last, carding a 7-under 65 in his final round at TP — easily the best of the three-day tourney — to help secure his second invitational win of the young summer.

“My consistency, especially in my short game, has really improved for me,” Tucker said. “It’s really helped my ability to score well on the course.”

Tucker’s good play definitely comes at the right time for the young man, as he gets set to tee it up in the 13th annual Greystone Invitational in Birmingham on Thursday.

According to Tucker, this particular event is one of the biggest on the amateur stage, with golfers from all across the country venturing to the Founder’s Course for the opportunity to stake claim to a very prestigious title.

“It’s a course I’ve played a lot in my career,” Tucker said. “I played it as a junior golfer the past couple of years, so I’m really familiar with how it plays.”

Although he’s well-versed in how the golf course will play, it’ll  mark just the third time Tucker has played in the Greystone event, missing the cut two years ago before collecting a very respectable 24th-place finish at last year’s event.

With the pressure of a big tournament and plenty of golfers nipping at his heels, Tucker said he believes his ability to make par will be key heading into the four-day tournament.

“When I get off to a bad start, I’m usually able to grind it out and come up with a reasonable score,” he said. “Hopefully that’ll be the case for me this weekend. I want to play well and do better than I did a year ago.”

% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.

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