Armstrong leads birdie bonanza at ET Amateur

Joe Avento • Jul 6, 2013 at 9:56 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A day after Carlson Cox said every hole at Elizabethton Golf Course was a birdie opportunity, Lucas Armstrong tried to prove him right.Armstrong birdied 11 of the first 14 holes — including eight on the front nine — to move into a tie for first place after the second round of the Carter County Bank East Tennessee Amateur golf tournament.Armstrong also had a pair of double bogeys and a bogey to shoot a wild six-under 66 that left him at 10 under par, tied with first-round leader Bryan Sangid.“That was a lot of fun,” said Armstrong, a Middle Tennessee State golfer from Church Hill who also played briefly at East Tennessee State and Walters State. “I enjoyed that. I hope I can keep it up.”Sangid, who opened with a 64, shot a 70. Cox shot 69 and was eight under par through 36 holes, two shots behind the co-leaders.“Starting out, we all birdied the first hole,” said Cox, who played with Armstrong and Sangid. “I think we were pretty close for a while until Lucas just got hot. He was hitting it good.”Craig Reasor, who came from way back to win the recent Tillinghast Invitational with a closing 64 at Johnson City Country Club, remained in contention with a second 69 that left him four shots back.It was all part of one of the most entertaining days in the tournament’s 19-year history. The course was set up for scoring, with the tees moved up on par-fives and pins in receptive spots.Thirteen players broke par, including nine scores in the 60s.But without a doubt, Armstrong was the story of the day. Word began to spread around the course that he had birdied five of the first six holes. He continued his run with birdies at the seventh, eighth and ninth.Despite his three-putt hiccup of a double-bogey at the par-three third hole, he managed to shoot 30 on the front nine.“I’ve never played nine holes without a par before, I can tell you that,” Armstrong said.And he continued right along on the back, making more birdies at the 11th, 12th and 14th holes. That left him at nine under par for the day with a couple of more birdie holes coming up.“When he birdied 11 and 12, I was thinking he’s gonna shoot 60 or 61 and I had to just start trying to birdie everything,” Cox said.But Armstrong’s roll to the tournament record of 62 held by Nick York was cut short when his tee shot at the par-four 15th hole didn’t clear a hill just in front of the tee. It led to his second double-bogey of the day after he three-putted.“I didn’t think about the tees being moved up there and I just pulled out rescue wood,” he said. “I usually hit it low anyway.”Armstrong was still smiling on that green.“I was fine,” he said. “I was just enjoying it. I don’t get mad playing. I just go with the flow.”A bogey at the final hole dropped him to six under for the day. Sangid also bogeyed the final hole, missing a par putt just over two feet.“I was just trying to play my own game,” Sangid said. “I saw Lucas was playing great and I was happy for him. I figured if I just hung in there and kept playing, I’d be in good shape for tomorrow.”Cox birdied three of his final five holes to make up for driving it out of bounds on the 12th hole, leading to a double-bogey.“Like I said yesterday, you can birdie every hole out here,” Cox said. “It’s going to be fun tomorrow.”The same three will be in the final group for today’s final round. Sangid won this tournament in 2004 and Cox won it in 2011. Armstrong, who won the inaugural Tri-Cities Amateur championship in 2010, is hoping it’s his turn at the East Tennessee Amateur.“It’ll be fun,” he said. “I haven’t won much around here, kind of stuck around the middle of the pack. I’ll try to win it tomorrow.”The cut came at 150. Thirty-two players were six over or better and qualified for the final round.Dwight Scott maintained the lead in the senior division when a two-under-par 70 left him seven under par for the tournament. He’ll begin the final round with a two-stroke lead over defending champion Mike Poe for the overall senior title.Scott held the lead after the first round last year but faded after a 78. This time he stayed at the top.“Played a little better this year,” said Scott, who has 11 birdies in two rounds. “I putted good and chipped good. This is better than being 10 back, but Poe won last year from being 10 back.”

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