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Lane leads after two rounds at East Tennessee Amateur; Poe paces Seniors division

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Jul 7, 2018 at 6:45 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Tyler Lane wants to close it out this time around.

For the second year in a row, the Knoxville golfer holds the lead heading into the final round of the Carter County Bank East Tennessee Amateur at Elizabethton Golf Course.

After shooting a 67 in the first round, he followed up with a 67 in the second round for an 11-under 133. He holds a five-stroke lead over Jonesborough's Chip Spratlin, who rallied with his own second round of 66.

Playing 36 holes on Saturday, Lane was on target with 12 birdies and only one bogey, a three-putt on the No. 10 in the first round. He said the birdies weren't as much from his play on the green, but getting there with his short approaches.

"To make only one bogey, that was key to keep the ball in good spots," Lane said. "I didn't get off to a great start in either round, but I made a few putts in the middle of the rounds. I had five birdies the first round, but it was more my short approaches. My wedges were the key today and then I made a couple of key putts in the second round to keep my momentum going."

Lane, the brother of Science Hill tennis coach Kelly Lane, ultimately finished third in last year's tournament. He said the key Sunday is to not put too much pressure on himself.

"I just have to come out relaxed and to have fun," Lane said. "I love this tournament and I have to keep that in mind. I'm just glad to be here and to be a part of it. I want to be as focused as I can, but also have fun."

Spratlin, who famously beat Tiger Woods to win the 1995 NCAA championship, has won multiple local championships. But, he is still looking for a first-ever win in the 24th annual ETA.

He leads two-time East Tennessee Amateur champion Cayman Ratliff by one stroke. Ratliff was in a three-way tie with Lane and North Carolina golfer Matthew Bateman with a 67 at the end of round one, but shot 72 on his second round to finish with a two-round total of five-under 139.

Ratliff is looking for his second big win in three weeks. He teamed with his cousin Brandon Worley, another Sullivan South alumnus, to win the Tennessee Four-Ball championship in Loudon on June 22.

However, he was frustrated at the end of Saturday's second round. A long tee shot on No. 18 led to a short approach. But, Ratliff overshot the hole and then missed a 12-foot putt, which dropped him another stroke behind.

"I just didn't play well that second round," Ratliff said. "I have a lot of work to do."

Kingsport's Nick York, another South alum who won the tournament in 2010, and North Carolina golfer Joe Brooks are tied for fourth at 4-under 140.

Defending champion Garrett Whitfield is out of contention, shooting a two-round total of a 2-over 146.

SENIORS FLIGHT

Mike Poe, an eight-time Seniors division champion at the ETA, had 12 birdies over the first two rounds for an 8-under 134 to lead by one stroke over Mike Wood.

Poe, a former Science Hill High School and Tennessee Wesleyan College basketball coach who was recently named the new coach at Volunteer High School, posted rounds of 68 and 66.

"I played really well. I had a lot of opportunities and I stayed out of trouble," he said. "That second round, I made six birdies and no bogeys. You have to keep the ball in play here. I drove it in trouble twice, but I was able to escape with pars both times. That's the most important thing, to keep it in play and to keep it in front of you."

Wood, the Seniors division winner at the Tillinghast Invitational last month, had a 66 in the first round and a 69 in the second round for a 7-under 135.

Their nearest competition is a ways back with Tony Gouge at 1-under 143 after rounds of 70 and 73.

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