Ex-champ on top at East Tennessee Amateur

Joe Avento • Jun 30, 2017 at 8:55 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Nick York had the kind of day that’ll keep you coming back at the Carter County Bank East Tennessee Amateur golf tournament.

Now he’s hoping he gets to stay around.

York shot a seven-under-par 65 in Friday’s first round of the 23rd annual tournament at Elizabethton Golf Course. That was good for a two-stroke lead over Lucas Armstrong and Nick Cohen.

York is facing a possible dilemma. His wife, Rachel, is pregnant with their second child and he’s playing with one ear listening for his cell phone to ring.

“I just hope I get to finish,” said York, who won this tournament in 2010. “The due date’s the 13th, but the doctor said it can be any day now.”

York said it won’t be a difficult decision if he gets the call.

“Not at all,” he said. “I was giving my wife a hard time. I told her ‘If I’m leading after Saturday, you might have to hold it for a little while.’ But that’s no contest. I’ll be there.”

York set the tournament’s single-round record in 2010 when he blistered the course for a 62. He was on that kind of roll again Friday after a 40-foot eagle putt found the bottom of the cup on the 14th hole to get him to seven under par.

”I knew there were a few holes left and I was thinking maybe,” he said.

Then he bogeyed the 15th hole — it was his second bogey of the back nine — and any thoughts of another 62 were gone.

“It had been a while since I had been in that position,” York said. “Not a bad start, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Armstrong, the 2013 ET Am champion, had only one bogey in his 67. That came when he dunked his second shot into the water on the par-five 14th hole. Other than that, he was solid all day.

“I feel comfortable here,” Armstrong said. “You always have a chance to go low here. You can make a lot of birdies, but you can also get in a lot of trouble.”

Cohen’s 67 came with a shaky ending. He was six under par heading to the final hole and hit a big drive, leaving him 68 yards out.

His ball was in a hard spot and he flew his approach past the hole. An indifferent chip led to a bogey and the Johnson City resident had to “settle” for being five under par.

Tyler Lane and Joe Brooks both shot 68 as 11 players broke par on the 6,407-yard course. Jeff Scott came in with a 69.

For the first time in recent history, there won’t be a cut after 36 holes. A smaller Championship Flight, with 45 players, made that possible.

James Fender of Greeneville seized the early control of the Senior Division with a 67.

Seven seniors broke par. Tony Gouge and Eddie Bailey both shot 70. Defending overall senior champion Mike Poe shot 71.

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