The local golf season officially opens this weekend when the Tillinghast Invitational is held, and a stellar field awaits the ninth annual event at Johnson City Country Club.
Craig Reasor, last year's champion, won't be back to defend his title after turning professional, but the competition might be as tough as its ever been.
Chip Spratlin and Mark Baggarly, JCCC members who combined to win four Tillinghast titles in a row, headline what shapes up to be a strong field. Spratlin, the 1995 NCAA champion, won three consecutive titles until Baggarly broke the streak in 2012.
Reasor tied the tournament record with a closing 64 to win last year's championship, making up for a quadruple-bogey 9 in the first round.
Bryan Sangid, Richard Lowe, Lucas Armstrong, Nick York and Lawrence Largent are also in the field, and all have won major invitationals on the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour. Largent finished second to Baggarly in the 2012 Tillinghast.
Also competing is Bill Hardin, who lost in a playoff to the late Joe Meade in the 2007 Tillinghast.
"It's a strong field," said JCCC head professional Mike Crowe. "There should be some good golf. We're looking forward to an exciting weekend."
The senior division is expected to be as competitive as ever. Defending champion Mike Poe will be challenged by two former Tri-Cities senior players of the year in Mike Freels and Tony Green. Freels won the Tennessee Senior Amateur last September.
Also entered in the senior division is Bill Argabrite, who has won just about everything there is to win on the local golf scene throughout the years.
As of Tuesday, there were 106 golfers entered. A full field would be 128. The tournament usually gets between 110-116 players.
The registration deadline has been extended, and Crowe said entries will be accepted through today.
"It looks like the weather is going to cooperate and we should have a great weekend," Crowe said.
The 36-hole tournament, which runs Saturday and Sunday, is a points event for the Tennessee Golf Association player of the year award.comments powered by Disqus