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Enoch sky high after first Challenge Tour win

Joe Avento • Jul 11, 2019 at 12:05 AM

Rhys Enoch won’t be playing in any more majors this year, but his career took another major step in the right direction last week.

Enoch, the long-hitting former East Tennessee State All-American golfer, earned a victory on the European Challenge Tour, firing four rounds in the 60s to win the Slovakia Challenge by one stroke.

He won $38,854 (32,000 euros) for his effort. It was the biggest payday of his seven-year professional career and it set him up for potentially more. The victory left him seventh on the Challenge Tour’s money list. The top 15 at the end of the year graduate to the European Tour.

“I am confident I can get it done,” Enoch told BBC Sport Wales. “I have proved I can do it, and it's nice to know that I can produce some good results. I think there is still more in the tank, so I am really happy and buzzing about the future.”

Enoch, who shot 66 at Pebble Beach in the second round of the U.S. Open to make the cut, failed to qualify for next week’s British Open. He made the cut last year at Carnoustie.

It was his first win on the Challenge Tour and his fourth professional victory.

“It’s a massive thrill to finally get over the line,” Enoch added. “I think playing four rounds at the Open last year set me up for the start of this year, and after playing the U.S. Open, I just felt so much calmer in that last round.

“I had my game and my emotions under control. In the past I have struggled to play with freedom on the final day, when you are thinking about money and what it will give you. But the weird thing on Sunday was I felt amazingly calm.”

A final-round 68 was full of drama until the final hole. After Enoch putted out on the 17th hole with a one-stroke lead, a lightning storm caused a delay. He was forced to wait 30 minutes before hitting the most important tee shot of his life. And he found the fairway with his driver, hit the green and two-putted for the win.

Enoch, 31, moved up to 249th in the official World Golf Rankings.

RIDGEFIELDS INVITATIONAL

The Ridgefields Invitational is this week in Kingsport. The 54-hole tournament begins Friday and runs through Sunday.

Last year’s champion, Lucas Armstrong, wasn’t sure if he would be back to defend his title. He was playing in the Tennessee Four-Ball Championship this week and figured if he and partner Lawrence Largent were still alive in match play after Thursday, he won’t be available when the Ridgefields tournament begins. They survived a playoff for one of the match play spots but lost in 22 holes to Dan Crockett and Kevin Watford on Wednesday.

The Four-Ball event is being held at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville.

Kingsport’s William Nottingham is teaming with Knoxville’s Kyle Cottam, a teammate of Nottingham at Clemson, and the duo earned the top seed heading into match play. They won twice on Wednesday and will play in the quarterfinals Thursday morning.

LONESOME PINE INVITATIONAL

The Lonesome Pine Invitational is set for July 20-21 in Big Stone Gap.

The entry fee is $105 for members and $135 for guests and includes golf and carts plus a practice round the week before the event. Players wishing to play in the championship, seniors, and super seniors flights must declare at the time of registration. All others will be flighted by the first-round score.

Call (276) 523-0739 for more information.

MEDIA STARS

Last week’s William B. Greene Jr. East Tennessee Amateur had quite a bit of action involving local media members.

Casey Goetz, WCYB-TV’s sports director, got it all started with a hole-in-one during his practice round on Wednesday. It was a sign of things to come for Goetz, who went on to win the championship in his match play flight. Along the way, he holed out his third shot over the water on the par-five 14th hole in his semifinal match.

Goetz wasn’t the only media member making news. Pat Kenney, retired sports editor for the Kingsport Times News, shot his age in the first round of the senior division with a 72. Kenney didn’t realize he had accomplished the feat until the next morning when somebody asked him how old he was.

Kenney finished tied for fourth in the 60-and-over division after rounds of 72, 78 and 75.

The marquee match of the weekend featured PJ Johnson of Fox Tri-Cities and WCYB and Kenny Hawkins of WJHL. Johnson won, but Hawkins took him to the 18th hole.

BIRDIES FOR BUCKS

The annual fund-raiser for the Tri-Cities First Tee Chapter, Birdies for Bucks, is being held July 22 at Johnson City Country Club.

As many as 36 players will take part in a golf marathon. Each player is getting pledges per birdie they make as an individual or as part of a team. General donations are also being accepted.

To make a pledge and to see the list of participating golfers, visit www.tricitiesgolf.org/birdies-for-bucks.

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