The Johnson City Country Club team knows how to come from behind in the City Cup. Today it will find out if it can hold a lead.
The JCCC team assumed a large advantage over Blackthorn Club during the first day of the third annual event, winning 361â„2 of a possible 60 points on its home soil Saturday. That left it with a 13-point lead heading into today’s final round at Blackthorn.
“We had a great day,” said JCCC pro Mike Crowe, who teamed with Taylor Smith to tie a spirited match against Blackthorn pro Graham Enloe and Matt Smith. “The weather was nice, the course was in great shape and we got the lead.”
Having the lead is something with which the Country Club boys have not been familiar in this event. They came back from seemingly insurmountable deficits the previous two years to win the cup.
The format features two-man teams playing best ball, with three points being awarded in each match — one for the front nine, one for the back nine and one for the overall.
“This is a different spot for us,” said Matt Brown, who teamed with Jim Richardson to win all three points. “Tomorrow is another day and it’s a much different golf course. We aren’t counting any chickens. It could go the other way so fast that we know not to get too excited about it. One swing at a time and one match at a time. We have to keep our heads in it.”
Five of the 20 JCCC teams posted three-point sweeps. In addition to Brown and Richardson, the teams of Ken Raff and Steve Love, Mike Davis and Ken Vicchio, Karel Elbers and Jerry Smith, and Ed Baryla and Jim Barbarito were perfect. For Blackthorn, Charlie Byrne and Doug Petersen won three points as did Lewis Songer and Steve Silvia.
“We’ve got two nice courses in town,” said Byrne, who used to be a member at JCCC. “Both are well done. They’ve got a lot of great players on both sides. It’s a great way to get everybody in the city together and have some fun. Of course, I’d like to see Blackthorn win. We’ve lost two years in a row.”
Chuck Minton of JCCC made a hole-in-one on the 17th hole to clinch the back-nine point for his team.
“You’re just trying to hit it up there close,” Minton said. “It’s kind of demoralizing, I think, to the other team. We didn’t play well on the front, but that happens. That was the way every match should be. Back and forth and close all the way.”
The Blackthorn team is hoping its quick greens give it a home-course advantage today. Two years ago, they said the same thing and the greens weren’t running as fast as they wanted. The JCCC team came in and won it on enemy turf.
“They’ll be slick, but we’ve had so much moisture it’s tough to get them as fast as some of our guys like them,” Enloe said. “I would like that. It definitely plays to our advantage. You see some guys out on the practice green hit that first putt and it keeps going to the fringe and their eyes kind of get wide. It gets in their head.”
Crowe figures he doesn’t have to remind his team what can happen to the team with the overnight lead in this event.
“We’re going into there with a positive,” he said. “But anything can happen on any given day. All we can do is go out there and try on every shot and see what happens.”