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Ratliff in fine form for return to ETA

Joe Avento • Jun 27, 2018 at 7:52 PM

With an impressive state championship under his belt, Cayman Ratliff plans to return to the scene of some of the finest golf he’s ever played.

Ratliff teamed with Brandon Worley to win the Tennessee Golf Association Four-Ball championship last week. Now he’s turning his attention to the Carter County Bank East Tennessee Amateur, a tournament where he has dominated in the past but missed last year.

“I’m looking forward to the ETA,” said Ratliff, who won the annual tournament at Elizabethton Golf Course in 2014 and ’15. “I really like that course. I always seem to play well there. I’ve had some low scores in high school there and played well in the ETA. That’s the goal any time I enter a tournament, to win.”

Ratliff holds the scoring record in the East Tennessee Amateur, having shot 16 under par for three rounds in 2014. He won by a record 10 strokes that year.

He says playing at Elizabethton, and its undulating greens give his game some positive energy.

“I feel like for some reason I make a lot of putts out there,” Ratliff said. “Those greens are kind of slow, but they’re just so smooth and true and you can be aggressive on them.”

Professional golf is in his near future, although Ratliff says he is unsure when he’ll try his hand at playing for money.

“I’m not sure what the exact plan is,” he said. “I’m looking to do it at some point for sure. I’m playing it by ear. I’m playing pretty good right now. I’m going to play some qualifiers and see where I’m at, maybe at the end of summer, and give it a go. It might be next year. I’m not sure yet.”

In the meantime, Ratliff will attend grad school while honing his game. He was an honor student at East Tennessee State and won the Southern Conference’s Pinnacle Award in 2017 for having the highest grade point average on the championship team.

“The main thing is I’m trying to play as much as I can to get better and see where I’m at,” he said.

The East Tennessee Amateur is in its 24th year. The tournament is scheduled for July 6-8. Entries are being accepted. Call the pro shop at 542-8051 for more details.

LINK HILLS INVITATIONAL

Alex Hodge won the Link Hills Invitational over the weekend, beating Nick York in a playoff.

Hodge, a Knoxville native who plays at Walters State Community College, shot rounds of 68 and 73 to finish 1 under par. York, a former Tusculum golfer, had rounds of 71 and 70.

Mike Wood of Franklin, North Carolina, captured the Seniors Division with scores of 71 and 72. He beat defending champion James Fender by one stroke.

Wood also won the Seniors title at the Tillinghast Invitational earlier in the month and will be going for three in a row when the East Tennessee Amateur is played.

RIDGEFIELDS INVITATIONAL

Registration is open for the Ridgefields Invitational, scheduled for July 13-15 at the Club at Ridgefields in Kingsport.

In addition to the Championship Flight, competition will be held in Seniors, Super-Seniors and handicapped flights. Anybody with a handicap of 3.0 or lower must play in the Championship Flight.

The entry fee is $175. It includes three tournament rounds, a practice round and lunch each day of the competition.

William Nottingham is the two-time defending champion. He came from four shots back last year to win. Mark Halvorsen is the defending Seniors champ.

WARRIORS PATH JUNIORS

Warriors Path will be the site of a Junior Tournament Series event on July 7. There will be two divisions for boys and girls — ages 14-17 and 13 and under. The entry fee is $20. Call (423) 323-4990 to enter.

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