JOHNSON TAKES TRI-COUNTY
Madison Johnson wins first golf tournament
Now that his basketball career is over, Corbin’s Madison Johnson has picked up a sport he has loved to play since his childhood…golf. His return to golf paid off Sunday as he won the annual Tri-County Country Club Invitational, edging out Richmond’s Marty Anderson by one stroke, 135-136.
It came down to inches for the two golfers as Johnson sank a birdie on the 18th hole while Anderson left his birdie putt on the edge of the cup.
Entering Sunday’s final round it was Anderson’s tournament to win with a three stroke lead over Corbin High School golf coach Brad Harris, Jason Vance and Johnson.
Vance and Johnson put pressure on Anderson right off the bat. Vance, with back-to-back birdies on holes one and two, while Johnson had a birdie on one and three, cutting the leader’s lead to one.
By the end of the first nine holes, Anderson had built his lead back to two strokes. Johnson went into the 10th hole one-under with a 34. Anderson and Vance were even at the halfway mark of day two.
Vance ran into trouble with two bogies on the back nine at the 12th and 17th hole.
Johnson birdied the 11th hole and tied Anderson who had a bogy at the 14th hole. The two stayed even until the 18th when Johnson picked up his first tournament victory of his career.
“You don’t know how long I have been waiting for this,” Johnson said. “It has been a long three years. I have worked day in and day out for it. I have worked all winter and all summer for the past three years.”
“I didn’t play golf for a long time through high school. I quit playing golf when I was in the seventh grade until the summer after my junior year. I hadn’t swung a golf club much at all,” Johnson said. “When I got back to it, I didn’t start taking it serious until about a year ago.”
“For me to make the progress I have over the past year is really incredible,” he added. “Especially, after everything I went through with basketball. Golf wasn’t a way out for me; it’s a game that is decided by an individual. You don’t have politics and other things determining what goes on. You don’t have those people controlling your fate. You control your own fate basically.”
“That is one of the reason I was able to leave the game of basketball so easily and not think about it all the time because I have found something else I have a burning passion for,” Johnson said.
“I’ve only had two lessons in golf. I had one lesson in the seventh grade and the second two months ago,” he said. “I have progressed tremendously since then.”
“A guy named Donnie Caldwell gave me my first lesson when I was a little kid and gave me my second a couple of months ago. I am really proud of myself for what I have been able to pick up from what he has taught me. It is a different game, it is extremely tough on your mind and on your body, and people don’t understand the body part because they are not out there in the stress of the situation. Your body takes a toll on it too,” he said.
“I made some pretty decent putts coming down the stretch and it was really a test to your nerves coming into the 18th,” Johnson said. “The way I was able to win that golf tournament was being able to hang on. I stuck to my game plan because he (Anderson) wasn’t giving anything to me,” he said.
“When I got to the 18th I said to myself, you can either win it here or lose it and I pulled a driver off the t-box and knew it was going to be over 310 yards to carry it over that little pond,” Johnson said.
Johnson landed on the green in perfect shape for an eagle. He missed the eagle but had a one-foot shot for the birdie. “That was the longest one foot putt I have ever had,” he said.
Johnson hopes winning a few of these invitational tournaments will take him somewhere. “You start winning these tournament and someone notices you. You can pick up sponsors and go on some of these tours,” Johnson said. “Anything can happen from there. It can take you somewhere.”
Other winners included Josh Dobson (First Flight), Randy Worley (Second Flight), Bobby Wilson (Third Flight), Carl Webster (Fourth Flight) and Jerry Campbell (Fifth Flight). Paul Gambrel beat out Tom Allen to claim the Seniors Flight.
“The tournament went really well,” Tri-County Country Club Pro Bill Sergent said. “Early in the week we were concerned, but we ended up with 95 golfers. It was a very successful tournament. We are trying to get it close to where it used to be when Pepsi primarily sponsored it. They still help,” Sergent said.
“We had a great field this year. Matt Gann finished third in the state am this week and one of my old players, Michael Peters, played in the state am. I’ve competed against Marty Anderson for about 15 years and he has won a lot of tournaments and is a real good player. Of course we had Madison and Jason Vance, who play here all the time.”
“Madison has got a lot of talent and it came to the top. He just hits the ball so far, he can drive many of the par fours,” Sergent said. “It came down to the last hole and he hit the fringe on one and two putted a birdie to win by one shot.”
“You can’t teach length like that. He has really developed into a good player and he may catch me. I won five Pepsi titles and at 21-years-old he has his first one,” Sergent said. “He has a chance to pass me.”
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