Sharpe tops Cochran for title

PADUCAH — Tyler Sharpe didn't find himself in the easiest of circumstances.

Tied with local favorite Rick Cochran on the final hole of the Kentucky Men's State Amateur on Thursday, Sharpe's second shot on the par-5 landed in the bunker to the right of the green, some 20 feet from the pin. As he prepared for the chip, he was surrounded by a polite gallery at the Country Club of Paducah, albeit one that was hoping he would settle for a par and have to get into a sudden-death playoff.

”I wasn't thinking that I didn't want a playoff against a local guy,“ Sharpe said, ”but I knew I didn't want to get in a playoff. After I hit my tee shot, I heard the applause up ahead (on Cochran's putt for a birdie) and knew I needed the birdie to win it.“

Sharpe's chip rolled to within 5 feet of the hole, and he drained the putt to win his first State Am. His three-day score of 5-under-par 211 edged Cochran, who plays at Middle Tennessee, by one shot. University of Kentucky golfer Ben Fuqua, of Danville, finished three strokes back.

Paducah's Jimmy Brown, a three-time State Am champion who hadn't won it since 1982, shot a 72 and finished four shots off the pace.

”There was probably more pressure on the putt — my knees were shaking,“ Sharpe, 24, said. ”But there was no doubt that the chip was the tougher shot.“

Sharpe, who played at Lindsey Wilson, added, ”This is the biggest tournament I've won. I won some in college and I was 12th once in the (NAIA) national tournament, but this is it. This was a goal I set for myself at the first of the year.“