Worley had surgery on his ankle over the winter and rolled the same ankle last week. On Tuesday, when the Sullivan South alums arrived at Toqua Golf Course, Worley re-aggravated the injury ahead of the duo’s practice round for the 48th annual Tennessee Four-Ball Championship.
Worley acknowledged that Ratliff carried them through Wednesday’s stroke-play portion of the tournament. But as the week progressed, Worley’s ankle started feeling better and now the two are one win away from a state title.
Ratliff and Worley turned in two impressive victories Friday, defeating defending tournament champions and University of Tennessee golfers Spencer Cross and Chase Roswall in the quarterfinals before coming back in the afternoon to beat UT’s Jet Tickle, a Tennessee High graduate, and Clemson golfer Kyle Cottam 5 and 4.
“In the stroke-play portion, it really hurt because I had just rolled it the day before,” Worley said of the ankle. “Luckily Cayman played really well. Now it’s starting to feel better and I’m starting to play better.”
Ratliff and Worley, who also are cousins, never trailed in either of their matches Friday. Ratliff, the 2013 Tennessee Junior Amateur champion, said the key for them this week has been getting off to fast starts.
“We’ve played some really good teams,” noted Ratliff, who just concluded his collegiate golf career at East Tennessee State. “We’ve had some tough matches. We’ve got up early in every match, I don’t think we’ve been down yet, and it’s nice to get out to those early leads and just keep pushing.”
The Kingsport natives advanced to take on Knoxville brothers Chip and Mitchell Thomas, who defeated former Tennessee Tech golfers Lee Maxwell and Wes Korth 2 and 1 to reach the final. In the quarterfinals, the Thomas brothers earned a 3-and-2 victory over Tyler Johnson and Brian Clark in an all-Farragut High School alumni match.
Saturday’s championship match is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. at Toqua in Tellico Village.
This is the third year that Worley and Ratliff have competed in the Tennessee Four-Ball together and the second for the Thomases.