Sawyer Brown's Miller Fun at Shootout Arthritis Foundation
by Stan Crawley

       Thanks to Mark Miller of the country music band Sawyer Brown and Ryuji Imada of the Nationwide Tour, the Arthritis Foundation is better off by $4,000.

       It took Miller getting closest-to-the-pin on a bonus putt on the final hole Tuesday afternoon at the Black Creek Club for the duo to win the Regions Bank-Morgan Keegan Pro-Celebrity Shootout.

       Imada, a former golfer at the University of Georgia, won the Nationwide event last weekend at The Cliffs Golf and Country Club in Greenville, S.C. Miller, whose band was catapulted to its success after an appearance on Star Search in 1983, wore a University of Kentucky hat during the skins game.

       After the match, Imada was asked if they talked about Georgia and Kentucky.

       "No, I don't care if he's from Kentucky," Imada said. "As long as he's not from Tennessee."

       Imada was then asked if he had ever heard of any song from the band Sawyer Brown, "I may have," he said with a laugh.

       Everybody involved had fun during the Celebrity Shootout, and four local charities of the Chattanooga Classic prospered. Imada and Miller finished with four skins to make the Arthritis Foundation the biggest winner.

       With one skin each and earning $2,000 each for their charities were former major league pitcher Rick Honeycutt and pro golfer D.J. Trahan (T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital) and UTC athletic director Steve Sloan and pro golfer Victor Schwamkrug (Alexian Brothers). NFL place-kicker Morten Anderson and pro golfer Sonny Skinner picked up no skins, but still made $1,000 for First Tee of Chattanooga.

       "This is an incredible course," Miller said. "The greens are as good as any I've ever played. That was fun."

       Miller picked up the game of golf while touring with his band. He plays a 10 handicap out of the Golf Club of Tennessee.

       "I've never had a lesson," Miller said. "This is just something I do from day to day. I've been doing it for 15 years on the road. I mainly came here to help out my buddy, Vince Gill, who couldn't make the trip."

       Imada, whose roomate at the University of Georgia was Michael Morrison II from Dalton, Ga., said the course was in "great shape."

       "Really, it's about the same as last August," he said. "It seemed a bit longer when I played this morning, but maybe that was because it was cold. There are a lot of great holes­18, 12, 13, 9. You have to keep the ball in the fairway and make putts."

       Jason Bohn won the Chattanooga Classic last year at 23-under when August rains kept the greens soft all week. No rain is expected this week with weekend temperatures expected near 90 degrees.

       "If the greens get firm, we won't have another 23-under," Imada said. "I think maybe 15- to 20-under, though."

       ANDERSON GOOD UNDER PRESSURE: Imada thought Morten Anderson's bonus putt on the final hole was closer than Miller's. Anderson thought the same thing.

       "I thought we were closest," Anderson said. "Sudden death, that what I'm good at. I stunk the rest of the day, but I pulled it off on that putt at the end."        The 44-year-old Anderson, who has punted for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, will be back with the Kansas City Chiefs this year. He has no plan for retirement after 23 years in the NFL.

       "I want to play until I'm 50," Anderson said. "I feel pretty good. I think the Chiefs improved their defense. I think we'll have a solid year."

       Anderson was asked which hat he would wear if voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

       "I hung my hat in New Orleans for 13 years," he said. "I went to a Super Bowl with Atlanta, and I've enjoyed my time in Kansas City. It will be a tough decision. I'll have to get in before I decide. I don't want to jinx it."

       Anderson got to watch one of Peyton Manning's best performances last season when the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chiefs in the playoffs. Still, he isn't ready to call Manning the best ever.

       "Joe Montana was just so consistent," Anderson said. "He was the best I've ever seen. He was so good for so long and won some Super Bowls. Peyton is excellent, but he's still young."

       Anderson also said playing golf is similar to kicking the football.        "These guys out here are amazing," he said. "It's a whole different game than I play. They strike the ball so effortlessly and it goes 300 yards. Even the small guys just rip the ball.

       "Both golf and kicking are mental games. You must know how to hit it and you have to trust your swing."

       HONEYCUTT LIKES COURSE: Honeycutt enjoyed the skins game and got to see an old friend in Anderson, who has played in Honeycutt's golf tournament several times.        "Today was a blast," Honeycutt said. "It's been a couple of years since I've played Black Creek, but it is really nice, really plush. The greens have always been good and the course is maturing very nicely."

       RIDDLE SAYS GREENS WILL GET FASTER: Black Greek general manager Rob Riddle, who will be playing in the tournament, said the greens will get much faster late in the week.

       "I think these tour guys will be surprised," he said. "We're double-cutting them and rolling them twice a day."

       Riddle said he turned in a good effort in a practice round on Tuesday.

       "I don't think I missed a green," he said. "Of course, it didn't count today."

       LONG DRIVE WON BY SCHWAMKRUG: Schwamkrug, who averaged 339.3 yards on the Nationwide tour in 2004, won the Franklin American Mortgage Long Drive Contest on Tuesday afternoon with a drive of 339 yards.

       Schwamkrug has been a member of the Nationwide Tour since 2000. He was 90th on the money list last year.

       Other winners: Adult--Brett Martin, Decatur, Ala., 325 yards; Adult female--Beth Felts, Chattanooga; Junior female--Sara Beach, Chattanooga; Junior male--Kyle Smith, Powder Springs, Ga.; Senior male--Sam Woolwine, executive director of the Chattanooga Classic.

copyright © by Stan Crawley
posted on line at The Chattanoogan May 4, 2004
Stan Crawley is a staff writer for The Chattanoogan

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