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Poe looking to add to impressive victory total at ETA

Joe Avento • Jul 3, 2019 at 6:18 PM

Mike Poe has won 82 golf tournaments by last count, and last year’s East Tennessee Amateur was not one of them. Still, the one that got away at Elizabethton Golf Course last summer stands out as one of his favorites.

Poe and Mike Wood were locked in a battle for the ages in the senior division. Poe had just drained a birdie putt on the 17th hole of the final round to get to 14 under par and pull even.

“I never thought I’d be standing on the 18th tee 14 under par and not be in the lead,” Poe said.

Instead, he was tied with Wood, who comes from Franklin, North Carolina, to play in a lot of tournaments in East Tennessee. When Wood birdied the final hole and Poe bogeyed, Wood had a two-stroke victory.

“That was probably one of the most fun events I’ve played in — and I didn’t even win,” Poe said. “Both of us were kind of spot on. It was a lot of fun. I shot 13 under par and finished second.”

Wood finished with rounds of 66, 69 and 66 to finish 15 under par. He agreed with Poe’s assessment of the “fun factor” of two guys going head to head and going low.

“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.”

Poe is hoping to continue a red-hot summer when the tournament, now known as the William B. Greene Jr. East Tennessee Amateur, begins Friday at Elizabethton. The basketball coach at Volunteer High School hasn’t finished lower than fourth this summer, including in state events. He won the senior division of the Tillinghast Invitational at Johnson City Country Club and finished second at the Link Hills Invitational two weeks ago.

“I’ve had a pretty good summer,” Poe said.

As he gets ready for the ETA, he’ll be preparing for a tournament he’s won eight times.

“It seems to come at a good time for me,” he said. “I seem to be at my best in the summer. My game seems to be good in July and August. I like it when it gets hot out and the ball is rolling out a little bit.”

Poe’s victory total includes 45 tournaments before he turned 50. That number could have been higher if he hadn’t taken a 10-year hiatus from competitive golf. He spent about eight years teaching the game, and since he was taking money for lessons, he had to give up his amateur status.

After regaining his position as an amateur, Poe started winning again. He’s won 37 tournaments as a senior and hopes to add to that total this week.

“All in all it’s been a pretty good year,” he said. “If I make some putts, I’m OK. If I don’t make some putts, I struggle.”

ACE FOR GOETZ

Casey Goetz, sports director at WCYB-TV, made his first hole-in-one on Wednesday during a practice round for the ETA at Elizabethton.

Goetz aced the 17th hole, playing 168 yards, and used an 8-iron. He was playing with two other TV personalities, Paul Johnson and Kenny Hawkins.

Johnson has one of the handful of aces in the actual tournament, he aced the eighth hole in 2007 while playing match play. Johnson’s hole-in-one came moments after his competitor, Dave Shields, had hit his tee shot within inches of the hole.

59 FOR NOTTINGHAM

Kingsport’s William Nottingham had a round to remember this week.

The Clemson golfer blistered the Ridgefields course for a 59. That’s 13 under par.

Nottingham shot 29 on the front nine, making birdie at every hole except No. 3 and No. 7.

A birdie on the 18th hole enabled him to shoot the magical number. And he didn’t even dominate the par-fives like you would expect. He made par at the par-five 11th hole, the only “5” on his card.

His scorecard had 10 threes and two twos on it.

MORE RIDGEFIELDS

After changing its name from Ridgefields Country Club to the Club at Ridgefields, it appears the Kingsport club will have another new name in the near future.

The club’s Facebook page has changed its name to the Ridgefields Golf and Athletic Club, but no announcement has been made yet.

The Ridgefields Invitational is scheduled for July 12-14.

TGA JUNIOR

Science Hill golfer Jackson Skeen finished tied for fifth in the Tennessee Junior Amateur Championship last week at Cleveland Country Club. Skeen opened with a 69 and was one shot off the lead. He closed with rounds of 76 and 74 and finished 11 strokes behind champion Jaron Leasure of Nashville.

Skeen’s high school teammate Sean Anderson finished tied for 15th, while Kingsport’s Jon Wesley Lovelace tied for 17th and Carter Counts finished tied for 34th.

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