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Lane wins East Tennessee Amateur title on 11th try

Joe Avento • Jul 8, 2018 at 8:53 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Tyler Lane got to pick one golf tournament to play this summer after his wife recently gave birth to their second child.

Apparently he chose the right one.

Lane won the Carter County Bank East Tennessee Amateur on Sunday, shooting a 2-under-par 70 at Elizabethton Golf Course to cap a five-stroke victory.

“My wife and I, we just had another baby,” Lane said. “She said I get one tournament to play in this summer. I chose this one because it’s my favorite for so many reasons.”

Lane finished the 54-hole event at 13-under 203.

Johnson City’s Chip Spratlin finished second at 8-under 208 after firing three rounds under par.

Blake Howard tied the day’s low round with a 68 and finished third at 209. Tommy Miller was fourth at 210 after shooting his second consecutive 68.

Mike Wood of Franklin, N.C., won the overall seniors championship with a final-hole birdie that got him to 15 under.

Lane, a 32-year-old teacher and coach from Knoxville, has been in contention here before. He was playing in his 11th East Tennessee Amateur.

“I’ve really wanted to win this tournament,” he said. “I’ve had a few chances. I’ve never been able to close it out. It’s my favorite tournament of the year, so to do it feels great.”

Lane began the day with a five-stroke lead. After nine holes, it was down to three as Spratlin was mounting a charge.

That’s how they stood when they got the par-5 11th hole, one that cost Spratlin dearly two years ago when he was in the final group and hit his tee shot out of bounds.

This time he teed off with a 3-wood, one he usually draws. Instead, the ball cut into a pine tree right of the fairway, leading to bogey that derailed his chances.

“That hole got me again,” Spratlin said. “After that, it was back to four or five down and I wasn’t hitting the ball that well. I would have had to shoot 65 to catch him and I didn’t have that in me. I’m actually glad with what I shot.”

Lane said the toughest part of starting with such a big lead was to try not to think about it.

“The whole time I’m trying not to think about winning, not to think about what they’re doing,” he said. “I’m human. It’s hard not to.

“I made a lot of nervous swings on the front nine. On 14, I started making some committed swings and made a couple of birdies coming in.”

Nick York finished fifth at 211, followed by Joe Brooks and Matt Dibella at 212. Dibella closed with a 68.

Boddie Bible was eighth at 214, and two-time champion and first-round co-leader Cayman Ratliff tied with Jeff Scott and Tyler Duntsch for ninth at 215.

SENIORS DIVISION

Wood, who won the Tillighast Invitational and the Link Hills Invitational earlier, will be after the Northeast Tennessee Grand Slam this week at the Ridgefields Invitational.

“I do like to slide under the radar, but I think that’s over,” he said.

Wood’s latest championship didn’t come easily.

After eight-time East Tennessee Amateur senior champ Mike Poe drained a long birdie putt on the 17th hole, he and Wood walked to the 18th tee tied.

Wood hit a big drive, leaving just a 67-yard pitch to the green and he knocked it to within 8 feet of the hole.

Poe missed the green and chipped up, leaving him a chance for par.

When Wood curled his birdie putt in, it was over. He waved his putter in the air, coaxing the ball into the hole.

“I just asked for peace and rolled that one in,” Wood said. “I felt really at peace.”

When Poe missed his par putt, the difference was two strokes.

“It was really fun coming down the stretch,” Wood said. “Mike Poe’s a great player, a great competitor. He’s so much fun to play with. I like competing with him. It would have been fun even if he had won.”

Wood had rounds of 66 and 69 and closed with another 66 to finish 15 under. Poe shot 68-66-69 and finished 13 under. He won the 60-over division.

Defending champion James Fender shot 65 and finished third and Tony Gouge was fourth. Four seniors finished under par.

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