Roberson fires 65 for CCC lead
by RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor
Jul 21, 2013 | 799 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CLEVELAND COUNTRY CLUB Men's Invitational leader Caleb Roberson hits his approach shot to the 18th green during the first round, Saturday. Roberson finished with a round of 7-under par 65. Banner photo, RICHARD ROBERTS
CLEVELAND COUNTRY CLUB Men's Invitational leader Caleb Roberson hits his approach shot to the 18th green during the first round, Saturday. Roberson finished with a round of 7-under par 65. Banner photo, RICHARD ROBERTS
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Chattanooga's Caleb Roberson walked off the 18th green at Cleveland Country Club hoping his 7-under par would be good enough to put him atop the leaderboard after the first round of the CCC Invitational Saturday.

The 22-year old former Lee University standout may have had a little to worry about, but survived a charge by Chattanooga's Jimmy White III to lead by one at the end of the day.

"It wasn't bad. I putted really well," Roberson said of his day on the links. "You are going to hit some bad shots out there so if you hit some putts and have a few things go your way like a chip in and things line that, you can put a score together.

"I've been playing here the last two or three weeks and it's coming around a little bit. I had a little confidence going out there now I've got to hit it in the fairway and try and make some putts."

Davis Watts, P.J. Shields and Richard Spangler are tied for third after rounds of 68. Bob Rice, David Weeks and Matt Hadden are knotted in third and Clay Stephenson and Matt Robertson

Last year's Invitational winner Chris Schmidt, also of Chattanooga, played his way through a less lucrative morning posting a 1-over par 73.

"I just hit it in the rough too many times. The rough is very penalizing here and that costs you. I hit in the rough off 11 and 18. You get it in there and you are at the mercy of the course," said the 2012 winner.

Schmidt won the Invitational with a 7-under last year and finished second in 2011 with 6-under.

Schmidt got off to a rough start after a par on the opening hole with a bogey at No. 2, but came back for a birdie at No. 7. He rolled in another birdie at 10 before giving up two strokes with a double bogey at 11. Schmidt picked up two more birdies at 16 and 17 before finding the right rough and sand on 18 to close with a double bogey.

"It (the round) was very benign at best, but there is tomorrow and I'm not too far off. I won't do anything different tomorrow that I did today. The putts were rolling over the hole. I just need to hit the fairways." he said.

"The heat doesn't affect much. It is humid, but the course is in great shape. The fairways are immaculate and the rough's thick, as it should be."

Roberson started strong with a birdie on No. 1 and kept up the pace with a chip-in on No. 5 for his second birdie of the day. Two more birdies at Nos. 6 and 7 put last week's Chattanooga Men's Metro winner at 4-under before a pushed tee shot on No. 8 led to the first bogey of the day.

Roberson recovered in a big way on No. 10 after pulling a hybrid and placing the ball within 10 feet of the hole from 240 yards out. After three more birdies on 12, 13 and 14 Roberson hiccuped again on 15 after pushing his tee shot right on and settling for his second bogey of the day.

"The tees are moved up so it's playing a little easier. It's in good condition though. If you miss the fairway you can get into some bad situations. But, if you put it in good position the greens are rolling good with consistent speed and you should be able to make a couple," said the first-round leader.

Round 2 of the Invitational teed off at 7: 30 a.m. with the 2013 champion to be crowned this afternoon. Roberson's strategy to make it two wins in a row will be to take it one step at a time as he did last week at the Men's Metro.

"I won last weekend in Chattanooga so I want to do the same thing I did there, come back out one shot at a time," he said. "Go out and try to make pars is all I'm thinking. If I make a bad shot I’m just thinking par. I'm going to give myself enough birdie chances to make a couple. Par is a good score at any course you play."

Country Club general manager Lamar Mills is happy to get the tournament completed and feels today's finishing round will produce more good scores. With Roberson leading by a single stroke, the final outcome is still up for grabs.

"It's a great turnout. We have 95 in the field this year which is great since this is our second go-around after having to reschedule it. The players have been very complimentary of the course," said Mills.

"There are some guys who can give him a run for the money. There are still some good players out there. We will see what the rest of the tournament holds."