But it’s quite possible that those expectations have been slipped a Mickey.
Interloper Mickey Jones of the Sulphur Springs area shot a first-round 71 to tie Poe at the top of the championship flight in Saturday’s opening round.
“I’ve been hitting the ball great and thought I’d give it a shot,” said Jones, who is making his first appearance in the tourney. “I had a great round. I made the turn at 2 under and birdied 10. I ended up having back-to-back bogeys on the back ... and ended up parring out. Just left some putts short and some bad chip shots.”
Poe, whose most recent victories include the Tillinghast Invitational Seniors at Johnson City Country Club and the Morristown Invitational, actually shot a better round than he carded.
“On the front side I missed four putts from 5 feet for birdie,” said Poe, who also picked up a couple early bogeys on the back side. “No excuses other than just me. I wish there was something I could blame it on. But the course is in great shape.”
Cox, who redshirted last year at Memphis, is by no means out of contention. He heads into today’s action tied with Matthew Mitchell in third following a 72.
“Rough day. The greens are very soft out here. This is probably the worst I’ve played here in a tournament in a long time,” said Cox, who had an eagle on No. 3 and a birdie on No. 8 but also three-putted twice and had two bogeys.
“I could’ve scored a lot lower if I’d put some putts in the hole. Me and Mike were hitting shots in there 5 and 6 feet on about every hole and couldn’t get a putt to fall.”
Robbie Davis — one of only six players in the championship flight, closed with a disappointing 83. Adam Arnold’s 75, however, was solid enough to give him a chance to catch fire today and pressure the leaders.
“Maybe it’ll come down to another five-hole playoff,” impishly ventured Smith, who is still rehabbing a hand injury he received while playing on the Tennessee Wesleyan squad under Poe this spring.
Bill Peeples set the standard in the seniors flight with a 69, a good seven strokes ahead of his nearest rival, Bob Smith. Glen McPeek put in a 72 to lead the super seniors field, four strokes in front of George Smith.
Action continues today, with groups teeing off at 9 a.m.