Johnson City Press: June has been good to Kingsport's Green
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June has been good to Kingsport's Green

Joe Avento • Updated Jun 26, 2019 at 9:28 PM

Tony Green certainly had a June to remember.

Green won two state golf championships this month, the Tennessee Super Senior State Open and the TGA Super Senior Match Play Championship.

“A pretty good June,” Green says. “I got lucky.”

Green, a 67-year-old Kingsport resident, was being modest. He’s managed to play some of his best golf in the biggest events, a trait that’s tough to learn. He won the Open by six strokes at Stonhenge Golf Course in Fairfield Glade and the Match Play title with a dominating 5&4 victory in the finals last week at Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.

Green now has four Tennessee Golf Association championships to his credit in addition to winning the last two Tennessee State Super Senior Opens.

“I like being challenged and I like the guys we play with,” Green said. “The competition revs up a little bit. Senior golf is a lot of good camaraderie. The younger guys are all seeing how good they can get. It’s a different level of attitude. Everybody’s pretty decent to play with on the senior level.”

On his way to his latest championship, Green snuck into the match play bracket by one shot as the eighth seed in the eight-man field after two rounds of 76 in stroke play qualifying.

Once he was in, he was unbeatable. He defeated top seed Doug Harris 2&1 in the quarterfinals before beating Jim Webb 3&2 in the semifinals and rolled in the finals with a 5&4 victory over Chattanooga’s Neil Spitalny.

Green won four of the final five holes to close out what was a close championship match. He was down early in each of his matches before finding a way to pull ahead.

“Something kind of clicked,” he said. “Just a little hot streak where I hit it good and made the putts and you just keep the pressure on in match play.”

Green’s title last week was made even more remarkable by the fact that he had hip replacement surgery in November and the first two days of the Match Play Championship were played in wet conditions, forcing the players to keep the carts on the path. That made for a whole lot of walking.

“I’m not as mobile as I need to be,” Green said. “I was walking myself to death.”

The fact that he could walk at all was a plus, considering where he was three years ago. During the 2016 golf season, Green spent several months in a wheelchair when blood clots formed after he underwent ankle surgery.

“For me to come back and play again on this level is special,” he said.

Up next for Green is qualifying for the U.S. Senior Amateur, next month at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, North Carolina. In September, he’ll head to Jackson, where he will play in the Tennessee Super Senior Amateur in an attempt to win three of the four 2019 major statewide events for players 65 and older.

LINK HILLS INVITATIONAL

Tanner Davis is also having quite a month.

Davis won the Link Hills Invitational over the weekend after putting together rounds of 69 and 66 to finish at 7-under-par 135 at the Greeneville club. He has won the first two tournaments on the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour, having beaten Chance Taylor in a playoff for the Tillinghast Invitational championship three weeks ago.

At Link Hills, Davis beat runner-up and first-round leader Lucas Armstrong by two strokes. Armstrong opened with a 67 and followed with a 72.

Darius Hoese, Zane Potter and Noah Jones tied for third at 141, one under par.

Carey Daniels rallied to win the senior division, following his opening 74 with a 68. That 142 total — even par — beat Mike Poe by two shots. Poe posted a pair of 72s.

The first round was suspended because of heavy rain on Saturday afternoon, forcing most of the field to finish on Sunday morning before going back out to play the final round.

The tournament was the second even on the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour, which consists of five invitationals around the area. Up next on the tour is the William B. Greene Jr. East Tennessee Amateur, set for July 5-7 at Elizabethton Golf Course.

U.S. SENIOR OPEN

The U.S. Senior Open begins Thursday at the Warren Course at Notre Dame with two players with local ties in the field.

Kingsport’s Cliff Kresge and Southwest Virginia native Dennis Wells are part of the 156-man field.

Kresge tees off at 8:03 a.m. and is playing with American Ben Bates and Frenchman Jean-Francois Remsey. Wells goes off at 9:47 a.m. with Americans Robert Sheats and Tony Soerries.

During registration, the players got to take a photo in front of a Notre Dame football locker with their name plate over it. They also got to walk down the locker room steps and slap the “Play Like a Champion” sign.

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