ELIZABETHTON — A dazzling round of 62 put Nick York in position to win the East Tennessee Amateur. It took a workmanlike round of 72 on Sunday for the Kingsport native to wrap up his first ETA title.
With his sweet swing betraying him at times on the back nine and his short game eluding him for most of the day, York was forced to sew together a patchwork of bogeys and birdies that ended up leaving him at even par on the day when he tapped in on the 18th green at Elizabethton Golf Course.
Sunday’s round may not have been spectacular, but his 12-under par total of 204 was enough to give him a three-shot victory over runner-up Brad Robinson, who was unable to mount a charge after starting the final round four strokes back.
“I knew another 62 wasn’t coming,” York said. “I just went out there and tried to play my game. I got off to a decent start and then had to start grinding on the back nine, but it turned out all right I guess.”
By the time the leaders made the turn, York and Robinson were locked in a two-man race for the trophy. York maintained his four-stroke lead on the front side, allowing him to resort to a conservative approach on the back nine with Robinson in his rearview mirror.
“There’s really no need to go at every pin or try to make every putt like I did the last two days,” York said. “Just make some pars, make a few birdies and see what happens.”
York’s approach ultimately paid off, but he did open the door for Robinson on the same three-hole stretch on the back nine that allowed York to vault into the lead on Saturday. After playing Nos. 13, 14 and 15 at a 4-under clip Saturday, York limped through the same three holes at 2 over during the final round.
Robinson was able to cut the deficit to three shots with a birdie on the 14th, but bogeys on the 13th and 15th holes scuttled his comeback attempt.
“Nick was getting the putts to roll early, so I couldn’t really get (close enough) to where I could even make him think about me,” Robinson said. “I got it to three down at one point, but I couldn’t do anything. I was just treading water basically.”
York finally came out of his funk by pouring in a birdie putt on 16, pushing his lead back to four. To many, Robinson included, that putt was essentially the end of the tournament. York said he wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“When I tapped in on 18 — that was the only time I thought about (winning),” he said. “I didn’t even know how Brad stood, I was just trying to play my game.”
Blountville’s David Talley fired a 73 in the final round, and his total of 211 was good enough to secure a third-place finish. Blake Howard followed with a total of 212, while Richard Lowe carded a 71 in the final round to finish fifth at 214.
“There’s a lot of good players that have won this tournament and it feels good to be in that company,” York said. “This is definitely the biggest win I’ve had.”
In the Senior Championship Flight, Mike Poe cruised to a 1-under par round of 71, giving him three straight subpar rounds and the championship. Poe entered the day with a commanding nine-shot lead and his final total of 208 left him eight shots clear of runner-up Ron Waters. Waters fired a final round of 70 to outpace third-place Rick Wilson by three strokes.