The mother of all rallies

Hughes overcomes accident to claim county crown

This was no comeback.

This, in all respects, was nothing short of miraculous.

William Blount senior Tyler Hughes rallied from three shots back of the lead on the last day to win the Blount County Prep Golf Tournament by two stroke on Monday at Royal Oaks.

The new champ carved a 3-under par 34 in final round play to come home with a winning, three-day total of 147, with Alcoa freshman Grant Dauherty just off the pace two back. Governor senior Josh Wheeler, the tournament’s defending champion, suffered a disastrous start to his round on Monday, taking a 10-stroke hit to his scorecard on the first hole to eventually finish five off the pace.

Hughes then overtook and held off Daugherty for the title.

Lady Governor senior Alaura Brogdon withstood a similar challenge from teammate and fellow senior Melanie Manis to claim the girls crown. Manis put together a furious charge on Monday, cutting into a six-stroke deficit to start the day to finish the four-day, four-course tournament a shot back of Brogdon at 147-148. Alcoa’s Lindy McGuire was third at 162.

It’s Hughes victory that’s your story, though, with golf accounting for only a small portion.

Piloting a 4-wheeler over spring break, the slightly-built Governor came upon a blind drop off and plunged head first 10 feet to the bottom. Hughes said Monday he still recalls very little about the accident.

“I remember being in the air and the ambulance coming,” he said, “but that’s it until the next day.”

In the crash, the 2008 county champion suffered broken bones in his back and neck, several broken ribs and a fractured collar bone. Hughes would spend nine days in the hospital recovering. After release, he would spend two months in a body cast-style brace.

“I had to wear this turtle shell forever,” Hughes said.

“I really didn’t know if I would be able to play golf again,” Hughes said.

It would be July before he was allowed to swing a golf club again, at least officially.

“I’d get out in the backyard and knock it around some,” Hughes said.

By August, he was regaining his stroke.

Wheeler’s misfortune put Hughes in position to make a run.

“That just opened the door,” Hughes said, “and I was back in it right off the bat. I knew I had to go hard early. I knew I had to make something happen.”

Before Daugherty was fully aware of the run Hughes was on, the latter had taken a two shot lead with only a handful of the nine holes remaining.

Daugherty closed within a stroke to start the ninth. Hughes, however, had, literally, come too far to stumble.

“I was focused on Wheeler and didn’t see Tyler coming,” Daugherty said.

This year’s county tournament was a learning experience, said augherty, at multi region champion at the middle school level and a state tournament qualifier. Son of Alcoa golf coach Rob Daugherty, the young Tornado is sure to be heard from in the future.

Monday’s round was anything but a disappointment, he said.

“It was good day,” Daugherty said. “I didn’t make any mistakes until the last hole.

“I figured I had to do something pretty good because he (Hughes) wasn’t going to hand it to me. I feel good about the first one. I had a good run.”

The individual crown, coupled with the battle to even be able to play again, was satisfying, Hughes said. More pleasing was the Governor romp in securing the team championship. William Blount, with a four-day 638, finished 39 shots up on second-place finisher Maryville, with Alcoa (680) and Heritage (691) even farther back.

Heritage’s Logan Vaughn (162) would finish fourth in boys individual scoring,

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