It was a special week for rising sophomore Oliver Simonsen. The Chattanooga-area native captured the Tennessee Match Play Championship in his hometown in impressive fashion at Council Fire Golf Club.
Simonsen’s day started with a semifinal matchup against Dalton State’s Ben Rebne. After halving the opening hole, Simonsen won four of the next five for a commanding 4up advantage. Rebne clawed back into the match with birdies at seven and eight to cut it to a 2up lead.
Simonsen went on another flurry with at nine and 11 to get back to 4up with just seven holes to play.
Rebne answered with birdies at 12 and 13, but Simonsen was not to be denied. Back-to-back birdies gave him the 4&3.
The other semifinal went to Hendersonville, Tenn.’s Michael Barnard in 20 holes. Barnard would find Simonsen’s run was far from over.
It was a quick 2up lead with Oliver starting birdie-birdie for four in a row between closing out Rebne and starting strong in the final. Barnard got on the board with a birdie, but Simonsen answered with his own at six. Barnard sandwiched that with another birdie at seven. The match headed to nine with our hero 1up.
Simonsen played nine through 11 birdie-par-birdie to swing back to a 4up margin. A bogey at 12 dropped it to 3up, but he steadied from there with a matching birdie at 16 earning the win 3&2.
He grabbed wins in the round of 16 and quarterfinals Wednesday over Lee Maxwell and nationally-renowned amateur Tim Jackson. Maxwell dominated early leading 4up through the first seven holes. Oliver chipped away at the lead but was two down with two to play.
He then won three straight to claim the win in 19 holes. Simonsen won the opening two holes against Jackson and was 4up through eight when Jackson could not continue. Over his final 65 holes, Simonsen played 16 on the positive side winning 24 holes and losing just eight.
He’s the sixth Moc to win a TGA event during Mark Guhne’s 13-year tenure as head coach. It’s the first Chattanooga win since Wes Gosselin won the 2016 Tennessee Amateur and first in the Match Play since Steven Fox in 2011. Rising senior Lake Johnson, playing in the Southern Amateur this week, reached the Match Play finals in 2016 at the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in suburban Chattanooga.