Tug Baker played offense while winning the 51st Briarbrook Invitational golf tournament last weekend.

"The power of the subconscious is crazy," Baker said after Sunday's final round. "I realize now that eight, nine years ago, I played a lot of defense on the golf course. Didn't know it then, but now I'm playing offense. I'm making committed releases, trying to execute the shot instead of trying to stay away from a certain shot.

"If you are scared of a hook, you may hang on it. Now I see the shot I want to hit, and I'm going to trust that I'm going to make that swing. So I'm playing offense, and that's why I made a lot more birdies."

Baker, from Carthage, sank 19 birdies and had only three bogeys for a 16-under-par 200 and a five-stroke victory at the Briarbrook Golf Course. With rounds of 66-66-68, he also broke the tournament record of 11-under-par by Robert Russell in 1994 and 1996.

"The gas pedal stayed down," Baker said. "The whole goal was to make committed swings all week. If you do that, it doesn't matter what you shoot. What's the worse that's going to happen. ... If I hit a bad shot, so be it. I'm trying to put things in perspective more and just go get it."

Baker was 1-under midway through the first round and had 16 birdies and just one bogey during the final 45 holes.

"I'm actually releasing the putter a little bit now," he said. "It's a brand new putter. I just put it in the bag a week ago. I'd say it works good."

Ironically, that lone bogey aided in his victory.

Baker held a three-shot lead over Garrett Stallings at the turn in Sunday's final round. On the par-4 10th hole, Baker's drive stopped in a hazard to the left of the fairway. After taking a drop and a penalty stroke, his third shot went over the green, but he was able to get up and down, sinking an eight-foot putt to salvage bogey and lose just one shot off his lead.

"That was probably my worst swing all weekend," Baker said. "I can't believe the third shot went over the green. It was a pretty good bogey. It kept momentum on my side."

Baker, who is a member at Briarbrook and Carthage, won the Briarbrook title for the second time. His first came 10 years ago, and it's still fresh in his mind.

"I remember a lot about 10 years ago," he said. "I remember I went into a playoff, and I didn't want to go into a playoff this year. Our friend Scott Hartley was with us 10 years ago. We rode together that final round. He passed away in that tragic car accident last July. I brought him back with this hat and this ribbon (Sunday). I wanted him to be with me (Sunday) again.

"My personal life has been very challenging the last six years ... highs, lows, mostly lows and working my way back up," Baker said. "I've been trying to find myself on the golf course and wasn't very good. Thank God my parents (Steve and Sandy) were both very stubborn and raised a stubborn boy. Somebody else would have quit years ago.

"Thank God I'm stubborn. I made my mind up a couple of weeks ago. I'm like it's time; we're going to go get it. I just have a good attitude now and a good spirit. Coming out on top feels really good."

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