Jackson's Werner excels in the art of scrambling

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com
Jackson sophomore Tanner Werner watches his tee shot during a meet last week at Bent Creek Golf Course.

Oh well.

For Jackson golfer Tanner Werner, this is not an apathetic resignation but recurring resolution.

As in, I came up short of the green.

Oh well, my short game is excellent.

Or, I just bogeyed to start my round.

KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com
Jackson sophomore Tanner Werner finished second last year at the Class 4 tournament as a freshman.

Oh well, there are 17 holes to go.

And, I made some mistakes on my way to finishing second in Class 4 at state.

Oh well, I played like I wanted to play.

"One of the great things about Tanner is his mental game," Jackson coach Zack Walton said. "He's not a kid that gets upset. He's real calm. If there's a bad shot, he doesn't dwell on it. He can move on. ... He goes on and plays the next shot and works himself out of whatever trouble he got in to."

To hear him tell it, Werner often finds himself in trouble.

Jackson sophomore Tanner Werner hits out of a sand bunker during a meet last week at Bent Creek Golf Course in Jackson.

"I'm a scramble golfer," he said. "I'll say that. I don't ever make it easy on myself. It doesn't seem like it anyway."

The result of his scrambling is the need for a little more work than planned and a little more patience than most people have.

"You've got to work for everything, it seems like," Werner said. "You don't hit greens in regulation. I mean, I can hit greens in regulation, but it seems like a lot of time I make it tough on myself.

"Every time I play, something's not as good as I'd like it to be, so I've got to make up for it. Like I might not be driving it as good or hitting my irons as good or putting as good, so I've always got to make something better to pick up the slack on what's not good that day."

This is a task he apparently has mastered. Walton said Werner is a remarkably consistent player. So while he wasn't always at the top of the leaderboard, he was never too far away and never shot worse than 82 over 18 holes during his freshman season.

KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com
Jackson sophomore Tanner Werner tees off Thursday, March 26, 2009, at Bent Creek Golf Course in Jackson.

"When he plays golf, for him to have a bad round, it's very rare," Walton said.

Werner saved the best performance for a year ago with a second-place finish at the Class 4 state tournament in Republic. He was the only freshman to finish in the top 15 and earn all-state honors in Class 4.

"I'd say I putted pretty good at state," Werner said. "It wasn't just luck, I would say, because I know I had it in me to play that good. In districts, I didn't win. I didn't win conference. I didn't win anything, but I just played like I wanted to play at state. Made some mistakes I probably shouldn't have made, but oh well."

Werner, who has been playing golf since his grandfather took him to the course when he was 7 years old, travels to six or seven tournaments a year on his own and will venture as far away as Georgia to compete this year.

He's had finishes at these non-school affiliated events he considers more impressive than his all-state performance, but since none of those accomplishments is as easy to explain to the average person, he lists the second-place finish as the best of his golf career.

Don't expect the laid-back sophomore to start to feel any pressure now, though.

His master plan for this season is to, "Just have fun and play golf," and he's already ahead of where he was at this point a year ago.

Werner tore his meniscus in January of 2008 and finished his rehab just before the season began.

"I got released two days before the Bent Creek Invitational, and I came out [to Kimbeland Country Club in Jackson] the day before and played 18 holes, so I knew I could walk because I just wanted to make sure I would be able to walk 18 holes." Werner said.

His knee felt fine, but the time away from the course was a problem.

"Getting a late start on things probably affected me, more than just my knee did like in pain or anything," he said.

Even coming off an injury, Werner never doubted he could compete with his new high school opponents because he'd already been doing it for years.

"I knew I could play with the kids around the area because, I mean, I've played with them in tournaments around here," he said. "I'd played with every kid that plays in high school around here, so I knew who they were."

One problem with his second-place finish is there isn't much room for improvement.

"The goal last year was just to get all-state all four years," Werner said. "I'll stick with that goal, and if I manage to pull something off, I do. But I'm not going to expect anything because it always seems like when you expect it, it doesn't happen."

In other words, he thinks he could win a state title.

But if he doesn't, oh well.

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