East Tennessee State has had three golfers named Rhys in recent years. Last weekend, each of them did something noteworthy on the course.
Rhys Pugh, who just finished his sophomore year at ETSU, won the Welsh Amateur Stroke Play by four shots after going 11 under par through four rounds. A third-round 66 at Royal Porthcawl put him in position to win.
While the jury is still out on Pugh’s college career, he has remained a star on his side of the ocean. Since attaining fame with an undefeated run in the 2011 Walker Cup as the youngest member of either team, Pugh also won last year’s European Amateur. That earned him a spot in this year’s British Open.
Pugh was a second-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection this year for ETSU.
Rhys Davies narrowly lost his European Tour Card last year and had been banished to the Challenge Tour for an attempt to regain is playing privileges. He took a step in the right direction by finishing fifth on the European Tour’s Madeira Islands Open on Sunday for his best finish on the big tour in seven months.
Davies, once ranked 45th in the world and the winner of 10 collegiate tournaments for the Bucs, closed with a flurry, making five birdies on the back nine for a 31 en route to a closing 67. He turns 28 this week.
Meanwhile, Rhys Enoch tied for second in the Alps Tour’s Gosser Open after a closing 65.
The Tillinghast Invitational is quickly approaching. The tournament, set for June 1-2 at Johnson City Country Club, has 80 players registered. Among the early entries are defending champion Mark Baggarly and three-time champ Chip Spratlin. Noteworthy seniors entered are defending champion Tim Dinwiddie, Mike Poe and Mike Freels.
JCCC pro Mike Crowe is still taking entries for the increasingly popular tournament. Call 928-5161 for entry information.
Former ETSU All-American Garrett Willis won the Tennessee State Open for the second time on Thursday.
Willis, a former winner of the PGA Tour’s Tucson Open, shot 66, 69 and 72 at Nashville’s Gaylord Springs Golf Links to beat Jason Millard by one shot.
Former East Tennessee Amateur champion Grant Leaver, who won the State Open two years ago, finished third, another stroke back.
Johnson City’s Adam Shanks finished tied for 41st.
Willis also won the State Open in 2000.
Lawrence Largent’s U.S. Open dream is alive and well. The golfer from Gray advanced to sectional qualifying for the American national championship. He shot a 70 during local qualifying at Edgewood Country Club in Sissonville, W.Va., to finish tied for third.
Since there were three spots available, Largent had to go to a playoff, and he won his spot by beating four other golfers.
Sectional qualifying is set for June 3. Largent will likely face a field full of PGA Tour pros.
The U.S. Golf Association had more than 9,000 entrants for the 113th U.S. Open, set for June 13-16 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
The Graysburg Hills Amateur is scheduled for June 15-16, and organizers have noted a few changes to the tournament.
The entry fee has been reduced to $140 and play will be in threesomes to ensure a quicker pace. The meal that has been traditionally been served after Saturday’s play has been scrapped.
The entry deadline is June 12 or until a field of 132 players is filled. Call 234-8061 for more information.
Could the Atlantic Sun Conference have another Cinderella Story on its hands? Not long after Florida Gulf Coast took the nation by storm in the NCAA basketball tournament, the North Florida golf team is making a little noise of its own.
The Ospreys won the recent NCAA Tallahassee Regional, becoming the first A-Sun team to win a regional. They advanced to next week’s NCAA Championship in Atlanta for their third trip to nationals in four years.
North Florida posted a final-round 7-under 281 en route to a tota of 34-under 830, setting a program and A-Sun record.
The low score was reminiscent of 2001, when ETSU shot an NCAA-record 36 under par in the 2001 East Regional, a mark broken when Arizona and Florida tied at 37 under in the 2006 West Regional.
Brennan Webb, a 1997 ETSU graduate, is an assistant coach at Georgia Tech. His team qualified for the NCAA Championship, where it will be the host school.
Webb was an assistant at South Florida before moving to Georgia Tech.
Tennessee made the NCAA Championship with a final-round push at the Baton Rouge Regional. Bristol’s Jay Vandeventer, a senior, helped the Vols by finishing second on the team through the three rounds.