ELIZABETHTON – The scoreboard says Ben Treadway was a wire-to-wire winner in the Carter County Bank East Tennessee Amateur golf tournament. But in reality, his victory was anything but smooth.
Treadway overcame a rocky start Sunday with a three-hole birdie barrage late in the day, and it was good enough to capture the 18th annual event at Elizabethton Golf Course, his home course, by one stroke over a hard-charging Nick York.
“I’ve got a lot of friends who play in this tournament and I’ve got a lot of friends who have won this tournament,” said Treadway, who finished with a 75 that left him at three-under-par 213 for 54 holes. “It’s awesome. I have family that lives on the course here. This is the first course I ever played.”
Mike Poe won the overall senior title, overcoming a 10-shot deficit to capture his 64th victory in an amateur tournament.
Treadway, a 23-year-old former Milligan College golfer, began the day with a four-stroke lead after opening with consecutive rounds of 69. His hopes of another sub-70 round were dashed early as he made the turn at four over par.
That still left him at two under for the tournament and in good shape, considering none of the contenders were making much of a charge.
It added up to a leaderboard that swung wildly with as many as five players having at least a share of the lead at one point.
York, the 2012 East Tennessee Amateur champ, seemingly blew his chance to win with a second-round 75. But he found his game in time to shoot a final-round 68, capped by an 18-foot par putt on the final hole that, at the time, looked like it might be the winner.
That gave York the clubhouse lead at two under par. By that time, Treadway had fallen back to even par for the tournament and his chances seemed gone.
“I wasn’t making any putts and I was missing greens in wrong spots,” Treadway said. “But I knew my closest competitors were playing with me and they weren’t doing too hot themselves.”
“As bad as I was playing, people kept telling me ‘Hang in there man. You’re right in the mix.’ ”
York, who had finished some 45 minutes before the final group, had to watch and wait to see if his effort was good enough.
“Playing is hard, but waiting is a lot harder,” said York, who won the Graysburg Hills Amateur a couple of weeks ago. “It felt like four or five hours.”
Treadway had one more run in him, like most champions do. He managed to will in three consecutive birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes to pull back ahead. With two pars standing between him and victory, he calmly hit the 17th and 18th greens in regulation and two-putted each with caddy Brian Scott showing him the lines. The winning par putt was a mere tap-in.
The pivotal birdie came at the par-four 15th, a short, uphill hole that gave players all kinds of trouble this week. Treadway pulled his tee shot through a tree and the ball wound up with sap on it.
Treadway’s approach shot, to what is considered the toughest pin position on the course, came to rest on a hill where balls usually don’t stop. He still had 20 feet, but he figured the sap kept him from rolling back into a difficult position.
Of course, he made the breaking birdie putt to pull even.
“That was probably the shot of the tournament,” Treadway said.
Treadway then hit a short approach at the 16th to within six inches of the hole to regain the lead.
Afterward, moments before Treadway received his trophy for his first local invitational win, his grandmother, Pat Constantine, was honored by tournament officials for her work as a volunteer at all 18 editions of the East Tennessee Amateur.
“That was pretty cool,” Treadway said.
Michael Alread shot a 67 to finish tied for third place at one under par, joining a list that included Blake Howard, Bodie Bible, and 15-year-old James Beckner.
Nick Cohen, who made the cut on the number, came back with a 64. That tied the second-lowest round in the tournament’s history and moved him all the way up to a tie for seventh with Cameron Dugger and Hunter O’Neal.
Defending champion Carlson Cox finished tied for 10th.
Poe, the Tennessee Wesleyan College basketball and golf coach, came from way back to win. His final-round 70 gave him a one-shot victory over Bob Ross.
Ross followed his second-round 66 with an 81 on Sunday. Poe won it with a birdie on the par-3 17th hole.
“I had a five-footer for birdie on18 and I thought if I made it I might be close,” Poe said. “I’ve been playing pretty well. I just hadn’t made many putts. I thought if I started making some and shot 66, 65 and playing in front of them, they might see that.”
Instead, after getting to three under on the day, Poe made back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th holes.
“That kind of took the wind out of my sails,” he said.
But, as fate would have it, he was still in contention. And when he birdied No. 17, he had the lead.
“Three days in this kind of heat, anything can happen,” said Poe, who also won the 55-59 age group. “You’ve just got to hang in there. Everything balances out. I have a rabbit’s foot in my pocket, evidently.”
Ross had the consolation of still winning the 60-and-over division. Bryan Rodgers won the 50-54 age group.