Johnson City Press Friday, December 19, 2014

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Bucs' Ratliff makes field for Publinx

June 19th, 2014 8:05 pm by Joe Avento

Cayman Ratliff finished like a champion, and that was good enough to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

Ratliff played the final eight holes in three under par during the 36-hole qualifying tournament at Nashville’s Harpeth Hills Golf Course to earn one of two spots.

“It was pretty awesome,” said Ratliff, a recent graduate of Sullivan South who will play for East Tennessee State in  the fall. “It got crazy but I made it.”

Ratliff shot two-under-par 70 in the first round and found himself atop of the leaderboard. Then he started going the wrong way in the second round. He was five over par through 10 holes after a three-putt bogey.

“I already had a couple of three-putts and I was kind of getting frustrated with my putting,” Ratliff said. “I looked at my caddie and said ‘I have to finish strong if I’m going to have any shot.’ I had to buckle down and play well.”

Ratliff birdied his 11th hole and made two more birdies coming in to finish at even-par 144. Then he had to wait for a handful of players still on the course.

When the scores all went up, he had avoided a playoff by one shot and earned a place in the tournament.

“I dodged a couple of bullets out there,” he said.

The U.S. Amateur Public Links, or U.S. Publinx as it is called, will be played July 14-19 at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kansas. It is a national championship for players who have no affiliation with a private club.

The champion traditionally earns a spot in the following year’s Masters if he remains amateur.

“That was one of the first things that crossed my mind,” Ratliff said. “I’m now closer to being able to do that. I was talking to my friends out at Warriors (Path) and one of them said I’m only 155 players away from getting in the Masters. I hope to take advantage of that.”

Meanwhile, one of Ratliff’s future ETSU teammates, Rhys Pugh, is having a good week at the British Amateur. Pugh, from Wales, made match play and won his first match 5 and 4 over Spain’s Mario Galiano.

Pugh, a former European Amateur champion, is scheduled to play Luke Johnson of England today. The tournament is being played at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

The winner of the British Amateur also earns a spot in  the Masters.

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