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Nottingham, Cross lead assault on JCCC with 64s

Joe Avento • Jun 6, 2020 at 9:15 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Once the birdies and eagles started flying at Johnson City Country Club during the first round of the Tillinghast Invitational, they didn’t stop.

Twenty golfers shot in the 60s Saturday, by far the most sub-70 rounds in one day in the tournament.

When the smoke cleared, two players — Kingsport’s William Nottingham and Sevierville’s Spencer Cross — were atop the leaderboard. The college golfers each tied the tournament record with 8-under-par 64s. They were the fourth and fifth 64s ever shot in the tournament, the last from Nick Cohen in 2018.

With what appears to be the strongest field — featuring several players from big-time colleges — in the event’s 15-year history, low scores were expected, and they didn’t disappoint. Last year’s winner, Tanner Davis, shot a pair of 71s to take his title. This year, 71 got you into a tie for 22nd place after one day.

Cross, who will be a senior at Tennessee this fall, started slowly. A birdie on the par-5 ninth hole got him to 2 under and set the stage for a spectacular back nine, which he played in 6 under despite making a bogey. He had two eagles along the way, the second one coming at the par-4 16th hole, where he drove the green with a 3-wood and sank a 25-footer.

A birdie at the home hole capped his day.

“It was a weird day,” said Cross, whose grandfather Jakie McCracken caddied for him. “There were a lot of birdies to be made out there. I kind of got off to a slow start. I didn’t birdie some of the holes you should birdie on the front.”

Nottingham, meanwhile, had a pretty nice combination going. The Clemson senior said just about everything was working for him.

“I hit the ball really well today,” he said. “It was good off the tee, putting it in good position to attack the flags. And I hit my irons good and gave myself a lot of opportunities.”

Nottingham had eight birdies and no bogeys. He said he putted well but added it could have been better.

“I think I had four lip-outs,” he said. “But I also made some other good ones, so it’s hard to complain about it.”

Nashville’s Ryan Terry was a stroke back after a 65.

Four players — Jack Rhea, Connor Creasy, Chance Taylor and Lawrence Largent — shot 66. Rhea was All-American at East Tennessee State this year. Creasy is a 19-year-old from Abingdon who plays at Georgia. Taylor, who plays at Tennessee Tech, was the runner-up here last year. Largent has finished second in the Tillinghast numerous times.

Creasy had it going, but his run up the leaderboard was slowed by a bogey on the 18th hole after he came up short on an 84-yard approach.

“I hit the tee shot right where I wanted, had a good number,” he said. “It’s over with now. I was just trying to play a good round today and put myself in position for tomorrow.”

Jackson Skeen and Tarun Hoskere, members of Science Hill’s state championship team in 2018, shot 67.

In the senior division, defending champion Mike Poe had a 70, giving him a one-shot lead over former champion Mike Wood and first-time senior player David Greer going into Sunday’s final round. Wood and Greer each shot 71.

A.R. Rhea and Cary Daniels had 73s to round out the senior division’s top five.

Sunday’s final round is expected to be a shootout: 24 players in the championship flight will begin the day under par.

“I just want to do the same thing I did today,” Cross said. “It’s a fun golf course to play. I want to go out there with my grandfather, have fun, enjoy it and have a good day.”

Tillinghast Invitational

At Johnson City Country Club

Saturday, June 6

First round; par 72

Championship Flight

William Nottingham 64

Spencer Cross 64

Ryan Terry 65

Connor Creasy 66

Chance Taylor 66

Jack Rhea 66

Lawrence Largent 66

Jackson Skeen 67

Tarun Hoskere 67

Andrew Spiegler 68

Samuel Trueba 68

Josh McWhorter 69

Chase Roswall 69

Nick Cohen 69

Lucas Tabor 69

Sidney Melvin 69

Channing Blevins 69

Will Watson 69

Clint Lowe 69

Alex Bradford 69

Remi Chartier 70

Blake Howard 71

Jack Tickle 71

Lucas Armstrong 71

Trenton Johnson 72

Daniel Goode 72

Tommy Miller 72

Joe Brooks 72

Gavin Nickels 72

Cayman Ratliff 72

Tanner Davis 72

Ryan Heisey 73

Nelson Dickson 73

Bryan Sangid 73

Tory Davis 73

Wesley Jones 73

Richard Lowe 73

Bo Andrews 73

Ben Treadway 73

Bracton Womack 74

Carter Counts 74

Hunter O’Neal 75

Garrett Whitfield 75

Joe Culpepper 75

Austin Carter 76

Dan Constantino 76

Sean Anderson 76

Brandon Mathis 77

Ben Campbell 77

Richard Oref 77

Jonathan Coats 77

Matthew Love 78

Caleb Moss 78

Jacob Owens 79

Pujan Shah 80

Scott Chartier 80

Kevin Campbell 80

Jeremy Rollins 82

Christopher Schaff 82

Daniel Everhart 89

Brackton Smith 90

Austin Davis 92

Caleb Gonzalez 98

Senior Championship Flight

Mike Poe 70

Mike Wood 71

David Greer 71

A.R. Rhea 73

Cary Daniels 73

Bryan Rodgers 74

Mark Atkins 74

Stefan Salyer 75

Bill Hardin 76

Randy Longcrier 77

David Daniels 77

Lyman Fulton 78

Mark Halvorsen 80

James White 80

Pat Kenney 81

Scott Campbell 81

Chris Jenkins 84

Steve Love 85

Richard Wilson 85

Tim Moore WD

First Flight

Matt Brown 75

Grayson Clark 79

Tim Walker 81

Daniel Sochalski 83

Josh Taylor 85

Brandon Moore WD

Second Flight

Kipp Hambrick 76

John Williams 76

Billy Haren 77

Shawn Stewart 83

John White 88

Wes Estes 98

Third Flight

Alan George 83

Mitchell Nidiffer 84

Michael Davis 89

Tony Southard 93

Craig Duncan 94

Cole Greer 94

Senior First Flight

Kevin Cole 73

Charlie Smith 75

Marvin Orio 82

Greg Goulds 82

Troy Baker 85

Joe Avento 88

Jim Brantner 88

Chris Tidwell 100

Felicia Nidiffer 100

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