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Comfort zone: Lane successfully defends ETA title

Joe Avento • Jul 8, 2019 at 12:10 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Tyler Lane said he wasn’t feeling too comfortable during the final round of the William B. Greene Jr. East Tennessee Amateur golf tournament.

He was looking pretty comfortable afterward, though, holding the winner’s trophy with one hand and his young son, Davey, with the other.

Lane won the tournament for the second year in a row, firing a three-under-par 69 on Sunday at Elizabethton Golf Course. His 201 total, 15 under par, gave him a five-shot victory over runner-up Nick Cohen, who made things interesting during the final round.

“It’s special,” said Lane, the 33-year-old golf coach at Knox Bearden. “This is a special tournament with special people who run it, so I’m really honored to win it a second time. It means a lot to me.”

Mike Wood successfully defended his senior championship with a closing 68 that left him at 208, eight under par. That was eight strokes better than runner-up Cary Daniels, whose 69 put him at 216.

Lane won last year by the same margin with a 54-hole total of 13 under par. His 201 total this year was one shot shy of Cayman Ratliff’s tournament record, set in 2014.

Jeff Scott and Lawrence Largent finished tied for third at nine under par. Scott posted the low round of the week, a 66. On Sunday, 22 players broke par and 14 shot in the 60s.

Cohen and Largent began the day six strokes behind Lane, who had opened with rounds of 67 and 65. When Lane bogeyed the first hole — his only bogey of the day — and Largent made birdie, suddenly the margin was four. But it was Cohen who made the late charge, moving within two strokes of the lead with a birdie on the par-five 11th hole. A shootout down the stretch seemed inevitable.

“I was feeling good with seven holes left,” said Cohen, who finished with a 68 and a 206 total for the week. “I was trying to keep the pedal down and not make any mistakes.”

Cohen three-putted the 15th hole for bogey, giving Lane some breathing room.

“A three-shot margin with three holes to play is pretty hard to overcome,” Cohen said. “It was a fun grind, definitely.”

Lane finished off his second victory like a champ, knocking his approach shot at the 18th hole close and rolling in the birdie putt in front of an appreciative crowd that followed the final group in an armada of golf carts.

“I never felt comfortable all day until about the last five holes,” said Lane, who had four birdies in the final round. “It was a struggle. I finally found a rhythm toward the end and got some confidence.

“I don’t feel like I won the tournament today. I won it the last two days and just kind of held on.”

Joe Brooks and Brandon Mathis tied for fifth at 208, followed by Ratliff, a two-time champion, at 209. Boddie Bible was at 211.

In the overall senior competition, James Fender, Tony Gouge and Mark Atkins tied for third at 218.

Wood, from Franklin, North Carolina, finished his senior championship with a flurry, making three birdies in a row on the back.

“I felt like I was well prepared,” said Wood, who owns an insurance agency and coaches high school football. “I felt good coming in, and this golf course fits my eye. The only shot I feel uncomfortable with — and I’m not saying I hit them all good — is the tee ball on 11. Other than that, I love it here and the greens always feel good under my feet. So I play relaxed.”

Atkins won the 50-54 division, while Dean Batchelder won the 60-over division.