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Bucs set to defend their home-tournament title

JOE AVENTO • Oct 10, 2019 at 9:15 PM

JONESBOROUGH — East Tennessee State’s golf team enters this weekend’s Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at Blackthorn Club as the defending champion, and that sounds good to new Bucs coach Jake Amos.

Amos is hoping he won’t have to wait as long as his predecessor, Fred Warren, to win his first home tournament.

ETSU won last year in Warren’s final try. It was the tournament’s 21st year and the Bucs had plenty of chances to win before that.

“It’s nice to know we can win it and the guys kind of have that monkey off their backs, but it feels like a completely different team,” Amos said. “It’s a strange feeling. It doesn’t feel like we’re defending it. It just feels like we’re going to try to win another event.”

The 54-hole tournament featuring 15 teams begins Friday morning and wraps up Sunday afternoon.

ETSU won by one stroke last year, and the victory wasn’t secure until Shiso Go got up and down for par on the final hole. Go finished second individually after shooting a second-round 63. That tied the tournament record he had set the year before.

Louisville, which finished second to the Bucs a year ago, is back in the field this year. Zach Simon, last year’s individual champion, has graduated.

Joining Go in ETSU’s lineup will be Jack Rhea, Trevor Hulbert, Archie Davies and Samuel Espinoza. Davies and Espinoza are freshmen.

The Bucs have finished second and seventh in their two tournaments this fall.

“They look sharp,” Amos said. “I don’t know what we’re going to shoot. We might shoot a million or we might win it again. You never know, but everyone is looking pretty sharp.”

Louisville is the highest-ranked team in the field, coming in at No. 12 in the Golfweek poll. Tennessee is ranked 16th.

Other teams playing are Furman, N.C. State, Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Missouri, Villanova, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth, UNC-Wilmington and Penn State.

Seven of the teams in the field have won the tournament.

A large gallery was on hand to see the Bucs finish off their first home win last year, and Amos said he’s hoping for that kind of support this time around.

“I sell that to my recruits,” he said. “It’s a big deal here. I hope tons of people come out and watch again. The golf course gets behind it. The community gets behind it. It’s very nice.”