Dawson McDaniel wanted to beat the course.

Countless rounds at Paul Walker Golf Course since McDaniel was in high school has always produced around par – rarely lower. When he teed off Sunday afternoon six shots off the lead, taking control of the course was the objective.

It paid off with one of his career-best rounds.

While Christian Tooley let his commanding lead slip on the back nine, McDaniel went on a tear and shot 6-under par 64 on the final day to win the Paul Walker Memorial Golf Tournament. The South Warren High School alum and current redshirt sophomore for the Western Kentucky golf program won his first municipal tournament by one stroke ahead of Tooley and fellow Spartans alum Jared Brown.

McDaniel’s bogey-free round was just the second of his career, the first coming in the region tournament at Dale Hollow Golf Course as a senior in high school.

“I was going into today saying go beat this course,” McDaniel told the Daily News. “A lot more aggressive. Conservative lines but aggressive swings. That helped me free up my swing and hit my target or anything I needed to hit.”

McDaniel made six birdies on the par-70 course Sunday, playing two groups ahead of the first-round leaders in the championship flight. Seven participants shot below par in the first round, with McDaniel posting an even round.

Christian Tooley, a Warren East alum and current member of the Kentucky Wesleyan golf team, found himself at 8-under through 14 holes with McDaniel two shots behind. Three straight bogeys on holes 15-17 left Christian Tooley needing a birdie putt to force a playoff with McDaniel.

The gallery that included McDaniel stood around the green as Christian Tooley chipped out of the bunker to set up an 8- to 10-foot putt. The ball barely missed and his par secured McDaniel’s name on the rock.

“Anybody that’s played this game long enough knows you’re going to make mistakes down the stretch sometimes, and that’s part of it,” Christian Tooley said.

McDaniel led the field with the lowest round Sunday, but finishing two groups ahead of the morning leaders meant waiting several minutes to watch the group of the Tooleys, Brown and Drake Duncan finish the tournament.

“That’s the time when it’s not in your control,” McDaniel said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. Christian had a good look at it. No. 9’s pin location was really tough and I had the same putt when I was going through and I missed it too. It was a good look and I sat there thinking if it goes in, I have to go to a playoff.”

Starting the day from No. 2, McDaniel was solid out of the gate with a birdie on the par-5 and finished the front nine at 2-under. Paul Walker being a nine-hole course, McDaniel’s aggression paid off again with another birdie on the course’s only par 5. The rest of his birdies came on par 4s.

“Today my ball striking was a lot better than it was yesterday,” McDaniel said. “I made the putts I needed to make and I don’t know that I missed a putt inside 10 feet, which is what I needed to do. I just hit the ball really well and tried to plot my way around the course.”

McDaniel’s victory earned him free entry into the Pickens Amateur Championship set for June 29-30 at CrossWinds Golf Course. McDaniel finished third in that event last summer.

Paul Walker Memorial Golf Tournament Results (Par 70)

Dawson McDaniel 70-64 – 134 (-6)

Jared Brown 66-69 – 135 (-5)

Christian Tooley 65-70 – 135 (-5)

Drake Duncan 67-71 – 138 (-2)

Matt Fuqua 67-72 – 139 (-1)

Joe Hood 73-66 – 139 (-1)

Cameron Fields 74-66 – 140 (E)

Keith Tooley 64-76 – 140{&end}

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