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Nick York didn’t let one bad hole ruin his day.
York overcame a triple-bogey to shoot a one-under-par 71 Saturday and grabb the first-round lead in the Tri-Cities Amateur Championship at Blackthorn Club.
The Tusculum College junior came to the ninth hole, a difficult par-four, two under par. He was cruising along nicely until he hit his ball in the hazard that runs the entire length of the hole on the left side and wound up with a seven.
As it turns out, it was York’s only blemish of the day. He wound up with four birdies to counteract the triple and he was the only player in the championship field to break par.
“It was nothing special,” York said. “That was really not my game, but it worked.”
York comes into today’s final round with a two-stroke lead over Blackthorn member Bryan Sangid, who shot 73. David Talley, York’s teammate at Tusculum, and Matthew Smith both shot 74.
York, who made news last year with a second-round 62 while winning the East Tennessee Amateur, hasn’t won any tournaments this summer.
“It’s been really kind of dull,” York said. “I’ve had some good rounds, just not any good tournaments. Maybe this will give me some confidence.”
The ninth hole also got Tri-Cities Amateur Tour points leader Carlson Cox, who also made a triple on the hole.
“I’d say it’s in the top five hardest holes around,” York said. “When it’s playing into the wind and I have to hit driver, 3-iron ... yeah, that’s pretty tough.”
Cox’s triple bogey left him six over par at the turn, but he rebounded from that 42 with a 34 on the back nine for a 76.
“That could have been 85, for sure,” said Cox, who plays at the University of Memphis. “I hung in there pretty good.”
Cox is trying to win the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour player of the year award for the second year in a row. He came into the tour’s final event with a 69.5-point lead over Justin Harvey, who opened with a 76. York was 101.5 points behind.
Should York hang on and win today, Cox would have to finish sixth or better to claim the points title. He enters the final round tied for sixth.
“I just have to go out and play golf,” said Cox, who won the East Tennessee Amateur and Ridgefields Invitational this summer. “If you start thinking about it, you’ll mess up like I did today on the front nine.”
In the Senior Division, Tony Green shot 70 to grab an eight-stroke lead. His advantage is so big thanks to one bad hole from defending champion and points leader Mike Freels.
Freels played 17 holes in one under par, but that other hole was a doozy. He made a 10 on the par-3 seventh hole when lost his tee shot in thick rough and then hit two balls into the creek in front of the green.
“I was going along fine and then I didn’t set up correctly to the ball and I hit a bad shot,” Freels said. “It snowballed from there.”
Freels hit another ball in the water at the next hole, the par-five eighth, but made a long putt to salvage par.
“I was definitely thinking about where my car keys were after seven,” he said. “But I righted the ship.”
In fact, he righted the ship with one ball. Freels played the final 10 holes with his last ball.
Green was hurt by a loophole in the rules. He qualified for the U.S. Senior Open and USGA Senior Amateur, but received no bonus points for those events in the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour standings. Players receive extra points for qualifying for state events, so not being rewarded for qualifying for national events was just an oversight that is expected to be corrected next year.
Green can still win the points title should he hang onto his lead and see Freels finish sixth or worse today.
“That won’t happen,” Green said. “Mike will shoot under par tomorrow.”
Freels said he won’t be worrying about the points while he’s on the course.
“I just have to put that out of my head and play golf,” he said.