Mike Poe won his first Seniors title of the year
Craig Reasor didn’t let a little adversity stop him from winning the Tillinghast Invitational golf tournament.
Reasor tied the tournament record Sunday with an eight-under-par 64 and came from the middle of the pack to claim a two-stroke victory at Johnson City Country Club.
“It feels great,” said Reasor, a 28-year-old Knoxville resident. “This is a great old course. I hadn’t traditionally played well here. Given my career aspirations -- I want to be a professional golfer -- it helps your confidence to do this. It was a great win, a good field, a good tournament.”
Reasor’s closing round tied the record set by Zach Botts in the first round of the 2010 Tillinghast. He finished at 137, seven under par.
Defending champion Mark Baggarly finished in second after missing a long birdie putt that would have forced a playoff on the final hole.
Reasor felt like anything but a champ during Saturday’s first round. He was cruising at four under par until a mishap under a bunker’s lip in the soft sand at the par-four 14th hole led to a quintuple-bogey 9. He managed to finish with a 73, but being five shots behind the leaders left a bad taste in his mouth.
“I’ve been trying to work on my mental game,” Reasor said. “My buddy, Bryan Sangid, we spoke for about an hour after the round. I was really down. He really pepped me up.”
Then, on Sunday, he bogeyed the first hole from the middle of the fairway.
It didn’t look like Reasor’s weekend.
But things began to click.
He rolled in four birdies by the turn and added five more on the back, including at the 16th and 17th holes. His 31 on the inward nine included five 3s.
“It’s a lot harder in the last group,” said Reasor, who finished almost an hour before the final group. “There’s a ton of pressure. We had free reign in our group. You could just go out and make birdies and nobody cares.”
Reasor posted his seven-under total and waited to see if it would be good enough.
Defending champion Mark Baggarly stepped up to the 16th tee at five under, and found out he needed two birdies to catch Reasor. Lucas Armstrong was six under, but faded over the final three holes.
Three-time champ Chip Spratlin, who shared the first round lead with Baggarly, hurt his chances with three early bogeys and wasn’t a factor over the final holes.
Baggarly drove the par-four 16th and made birdie to get within one shot.
Needing a birdie on the home hole, he left his wedge shot short of the pin, forcing him to make a long, curling birdie putt to tie. When it raced past the hole, Reasor was the winner.
“It changes your approach a little bit because it’s already posted,” Baggarly said of Reasor’s score. “We had to do something. The course was ripe for the taking.”
Reasor was the Knoxville amateur golfer of the year last year.
Despite three-putting the final hole, Baggarly finished with a 71 for a five-under-par total.
Ben Campbell finished third after finshing with a 68. Spratlin and Ben Treadway tied for fourth at three under par.
Tanner Davis and Armstrong were at two under.
Heavy rain softened the greens and there was a brief delay while a thunderstorm passed.
Meanwhile, Mike Poe captured the senior division, capping his first victory of the year with a closing 68 that left him seven under par (137) for the weekend.
“That’s about as well as I’ve played in a tournament in a long time,” Poe said.
It was the 68th amateur victory for Poe, the basketball and golf coach at Tennessee Wesleyan.
“I’ve had trouble finishing rounds, but yesterday and today, I finished my round both days, so I’m pretty pleased with that,” he said.
Mike Freels finished second, five strokes back after shooting 70 for a 142 total.
Tony Gouge and Cary Daniels tied for third at 146, while defending champion Tim Dinwiddie was fifth at 150 after a 72.
The final senior championship-flight group was on the 15th hole when the horn sounded, suspending play. Poe said the rain helped soften the course.
“It never really rained hard enough to where it got unplayable,” Poe said. “It kind of softened the greens a little bit. Yesterday you had to be so careful where you landed on the green. Today you were able to be a little more aggressive.”