By SCOTT WILSON
Will Brooks likes what he sees. The former Cookeville High School and rising Tennessee Tech junior golf standout has been working hard to get his game ready for the Golden Eagles’ fall season with a busy and competitive summer schedule.
The goal is to fine-tune some things before returning to TTU next month.
Brooks took a big step forward in that journey this week when he teamed up with good friend and Belmont University standout Jack Uselton to win the 2019 Tennessee Four-Ball Championship at the Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville.
“I have felt like it was a matter of consistently getting better at everything I do and so far I am seeing that,” Brooks said.
“I am making the putts I need to make, making smart decisions and getting the most of every round.”
The four-ball tournament consisted of one round of stroke play and five rounds of match play. Brooks and Uselton were the fifth seeds heading into the head-to-head competition.
“The course is great, one of my favorite courses in Tennessee. It fit well with what we were doing,” Brooks said.
“All par 5s are reachable and it has six par 3s, so it is a little different than most. You have to really know where to leave the ball on the greens out there because the greens are super tricky. That was the biggest part of the week, we wanted to get as many good looks as we could and really put pressure on our opponents.”
Brooks said Uselton played really well throughout the tournament and the way the long-time friends were able to play together was a major factor in their success against some of the best amateur golfers in the state.
“It was a lot of fun. Our games are fairly similar,” Brooks explained.
“Jack is a good iron player, super consistent and he hits the ball really well. He’s a really good putter and that was key for us because I can get streaky. I thought we just kind of vibed pretty well and I thought we knew if we played the way we were capable of playing we had a shot to win this thing.”
Brooks said he and Uselton opened the tournament on a tough note, bogeying the first hole of stroke play.
However, they were about to birdie the fourth and fifth hole and then shot 5-under through the first four holes of the back nine.
“I thought we were very confident going into the match play portion of the tournament,” Brooks said.
“We knew what we were capable of and we thought if we could reach that level, no one would be able to keep up. That’s not how it went as we struggled a little bit, but the tournament was smooth, we had so much confidence. It was probably some of the most fun golf I have ever played.”
In their first contest of match play, Brooks and Uselton were one down heading into the back nine, but rallied to win 2-and-1.
They won their next match 4-and-2. In the Elite Eight match, the duo had to battle players from Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee.
The match was difficult, but they went into the 18th hole 2-up.
The semifinals was a “grindfest,” Brooks said. The match was even through the first 14 holes.
However, Brooks and Uselton won 15 and 17 to secure the match. They beat Ryan Greer and Jack Smith in the final by a score of 2-and-1.
“We played a really good team in the final,” Brooks said. “We played some good golf, but we didn’t make a lot of putts in that match. Match play is different than stroke play, it is kind of like chess moves.
“You have got to know what to do, when you want to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive. It was so much fun.”
Brooks is on his way today to Hilton Head, South Carolina to compete in a qualifier for the United States Amateur Championships.
Once again, he hopes to see his game continue to improve.
“That (tournament) was really important,” Brooks explained. “I have seen the improvement in my game and I just hope we can keep it going.”