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Thomas Walker’s Cope tops in Cumberland qualifier

KEVIN MAYS, Times-News Sports Correspondent • Sep 12, 2017 at 11:24 PM

BIG STONE GAP — Tanner Cope is built like a high school football player, but his game of choice in the fall is golf.

“I’ve never touched a football a day in my life,” the Thomas Walker senior said Tuesday after shooting an even-par 36 at Lonesome Pine County Club in a nine-hole Cumberland District match.

“I’ve thought about playing football, but I figured golf was a sport that I could play my whole life.”

Cope’s performance was the day’s best, edging Eastside’s Hunter Lunsford, who finished with a 38, and Pioneers teammate Taylor Williams, who shot a 3-over 39.

The match was a tuneup for the upcoming nine-hole Region D qualifier.

Under a new format this year for VHSL Group A schools, each of the state’s four regions sends one team and five individual golfers to the state championships in October based on combined scores from three nine-hole qualifiers and an 18-hole qualifier.

The final nine-hole qualifying match is scheduled for next Tuesday at LPCC. The 18-hole qualifier will be held at Glenrochie Country Club in Abingdon on Sept. 25.

Cope, who started golfing with his father and older brother when he was 8, hopes Tuesday’s performance at LPCC carries over.

“In the last two qualifiers for region, I’ve not played very well. Today was a big confidence booster,” he said. “I should have shot under par today, but I double-bogeyed one hole and bogeyed a couple. I just got too aggressive.

“The next time I play here in the qualifier I’ll know to play it smarter and not be so aggressive.”

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