JONESBOROUGH — More than one championship flight player in The Crossings Invitational’s lead group believed birdies were so abundant in Sunday’s final round that the event felt like a scramble.
Except, of course, the format was actually every man for himself.
Despite a tournament-best round of 64 from defending champion Tommy Miller, Johnson City’s Chip Spratlin turned in a 65 to claim the title at 13-under-par 131.
“I survived,” said Spratlin, whose career highlights include winning the 1995 NCAA individual crown as a player for Auburn.
“We had to have 30 or more birdies in our group. I had to have eight or nine. Tommy had to have eight or nine and Nick (York) had to have seven or eight. When all that is flying around, it’s hard to keep up with it.”
Miller, who shot 70 on Saturday, caught fire in the final round. He had his chance, but thanks to a late surge by Spratlin, he settled for runner-up honors at 10-under 134.
“I tried. We were tied with a few to play and Chip birdied the last three holes. So he won it, for sure,” said Miller, whose approach shots to the green made a huge difference on Sunday.
“Yesterday I was on the wrong side of the hole so many times I couldn’t make anything. Today, for the most part, I was on the right side of the hole, had some good looks and made a couple of good putts,” he said.
Tusculum’s York turned in Sunday’s best round among the collegians in the field, shooting a 66 to come in third at 135.
“I’m going to have to be honest with you. It was a grind. I never could get into position to challenge Chip or Tommy. I felt like I was out there treading water just to keep up,” said York, who is primed for next week’s East Tennessee Amateur at Elizabethton Golf Course.
Lawrence Largent, who opened with a 66 and entered the final round tied for the lead with Spratlin, got off to a rocky start with a double bogey on the first hole and three-putted No. 4.
He pulled it together quickly, however, and went on to shoot 4 under on the back nine. The 70 he turned in left him fourth at 136.
“It was just birdie, birdie, birdie. I knew I was going to have to do something special just to have a chance,” Largent said. “It’s kind of disappointing to shoot 8 under for two days and not win. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Carlson Cox shot a 69 to finish at 4 under over his two rounds. The rising Memphis senior ended up tied for fifth with Tusculum sophomore Leif Ratliff, who put together a second straight 70.
“I’ve been having trouble with my wedges all week here. I don’t know what it is, but from 50 to 80 yards I’ve missed six greens in two days. And you just can’t do that,” said Cox, last year’s ETA champion who is eager to repeat.
Ratliff felt that he left quite a few shots out there as well.
“It could have been a lot better than it was. But I’m happy with the two days,” said Ratliff, who also has his eye on an ETA title.
Former Dobyns-Bennett linkster Blake Blizzard, who’ll begin his college career at Virginia-Wise this fall, closed with a 69 to finish in a tie for eighth with Nick Cohen (71).
In seniors play, Scott Negrotto fired a 68 to overtake Saturday leader Mike Freels, finishing at 7 under. Freels shot a 71 to finish at 6 under.
In the super seniors, David Coats shot a 68 to go 4 under for the tournament, eight strokes better than runner-up John Branum.comments powered by Disqus