But Mother Nature intervened and Taylor birdied the final two holes to win the 27th edition of the tournament at Elizabethton Golf Course.
Taylor’s 6-under-par 210 beat Ryan Terry, Clint Lowe and Tyler Lane by one shot.
“It feels great,” said Taylor, who posted three rounds of 70 and became the first champion to win without a round in the 60s. “It was a little ugly out there at times, but that didn’t matter.”
Taylor’s wild final round featured seven birdies, all kinds of bogeys, thunder, lightning and rain. In fact, when the skies opened up during the second of two lightning delays, his chances of winning seemed to be gone. Had the course become unplayable — and it was getting close — the final round would have been cut to nine holes. Taylor wasn’t in good shape at 1 over for the day.
Luckily for the Gate City native and Tennessee Tech golfer, he got back out there and did most of his damage.
Still, Terry seemed to be in the driver’s seat, holding the lead until the final four holes.
“I thought I had to go birdie-birdie-birdie to have a chance,” Taylor said. “At 16, I missed a short one and that kind of took the wind out of my sails.”
Instead, Terry bogeyed the 16th, one of the shortest par 4s on the course, giving Taylor and the others a chance.
Taylor’s tee shot at the par-3 17th stopped 12 feet from the hole, and he drained a curling putt to forge a four-way tie for the lead.
With Lane, the two-time defending champion, already in at 5 under, Taylor, Lowe and Terry went to the 18th hole knowing a birdie could win it.
Lowe’s driver slipped as he hit and his tee shot was as far right as anybody could ever remember on the 18th hole. He still managed to find the green some 20 feet from the hole.
Meanwhile, Terry and Taylor both hit their approach shots to about 6 feet.
When Lowe missed his birdie try, the stage was set.
Terry went first after a measurement determined he was away and he narrowly missed a slippery putt. Taylor stepped right up and drilled the putt for the victory.
“It feels great to be able to do that,” Taylor said.
Lane fell just short in his quest to become the first golfer to win the ETA three years in a row. He put himself behind the 8-ball on Saturday when he shot a 75 that left him at even par and needing a big final day. He fashioned a 67 that gave him a chance — until Taylor came in two groups later.
“At the beginning of the day, if you’d tell me I’d shoot 67 on Sunday, I’d take it,” Lane said. “I knew I had to make some birdies, which I did. I’m pleased.
“I really just had nine holes, the back nine yesterday, I shot 40. That’s probably going to be the difference. That’s the fun of this course. If you hit good shots, you can make birdies. If you get out of position, you struggle to make pars. That’s why we love coming here.”
Terry closed with a 70. Lowe, who began the day with a two-stroke lead, shot 73.
“Chance did what he had to do at the end,” Lowe said. “It was fun to be in that position.”
First-round leader Joe Brooks (69), Lawrence Largent (70) and Gibson Miller tied for fifth at 3 under. Former ETA champion Bryan Sangid was two shots behind them after a 70.
Cole Greer made a hole-in-one during the match-play portion of the tournament.
Greer aced the 10th hole, playing about 120 yards, with a sand wedge. He did it in a consolation-round victory over Brad Headrick.
Greer was awarded the flag from the 10th hole after the conclusion of the tournament.
In the senior championship division, Riceville’s Rick Mays held off a challenge from former Dobyns-Bennett High athletic director Cary Daniels and won by three shots.
Mays, in his first year as a 50-year-old golfer, shot 69 to finish at 7 under.
The two were tied at 5 under at the turn before Mays pulled away thanks to some birdies and an untimely double bogey by Daniels on the 12th hole.
Daniels also shot 69 and finished at 4 under.
Bryan Rodgers was third at 1 over, followed by two-time defending champion Mike Woods at 4 over.
Morristown’s Mike Mills completed a wire-to-wire victory in the super senior division, which is for players 65 and over. He shot 77 to finish at 4-over 220.
That was good enough for an eight-stroke victory over Bob Ross, who finished with a 75. Pat Kenney was third after a closing 77.
William B. Greene Jr. East Tennessee Amateur
At Elizabethton Golf Course (par 72)
Chance Taylor 70-70-70—210
Clint Lowe 69-69-73—211
Ryan Terry 69-72-70—211
Tyler Lane 69-75-67—211
Lawrence Largent 71-72-70—213
Gibson Miller 71-73-69—213
Joe Brooks 67-77-69—213
Bryan Sangid 69-76-70—215
Lucas Armstrong 73-73-70—216
Jackson Skeen 72-75-69—216
Cody Carlson 71-72-73—216
Nick Cohen 75-71-71—217
Chip Spratlin 73-72-73—218
Lucas Tabor 73-72-73—218
Cayman Ratliff 75-73-70—218
Jeff Scott 71-74-74—219
Tanner Davis 73-76-71—220
Tory Davis 76-73-71—220
Ethan Burger 73-74-74—221
Chad Homan 68-75-78—221
Cameron Dugger 73-73-75—221
Blake Howard 79-70-73—222
Bryson Morrell 74-75-74—223
Bryce Reed 77-72-74—223
Nick York 70-75-79—224
Brandon Mathis 74-74-76—224
Wesley Jones 77-73-75—225
Wes Hall 74-76-77—227
Chris Guy 75-70-82—227
Joe Culpepper 78-72-81—231
Jacob Davis 73-74-WD
Rick Mays 70-70-69—209
Cary Daniels 70-73-69—212
Bryan Rodgers 74-71-72—217
Mike Wood 73-74-73—220
Randy Miller 70-76-75—221
Tim Moore 74-73-74—221
Tony Gouge 75-75-72—222
Lyman Fulton 73-77-74—224
David Greer 79-71-75—225
Mike Poe 74-76-75—225
Mark Atkins 75-78-72—225
Mark Halvorsen 77-80-68—225
Bill Hardin 75-75-77—227
Jeff Andrews 79-79-71—229
James Fender 82-75-74—231
Dwight Scott 78-77-76—231
Ron Waters 72-77-82—231
Dave Bellessa 77-79-76—232
Jeff Isaacs 81-74-78—233
Stefan Salyer 75-82-79—236
Mitch Nidiffer 80-76-80—236
Ronnie Breeden 79-80-79—238
Brad Rinella 77-85-76—238
Charlie Smith 88-77-81—246
David Croston 85-85-79—249
Danny Jones 81-84-86—251
Dan Buchannan 98-91-94—283
Felicia Nidiffer 98-102-101—301
Joe Avento 80-78–WD
Marv Orio 84-86–WD
Rick Wilson WD
Mike Mills 68-75-77—220
Bob Ross 76-77-75—228
Pat Kenney 79-79-77—235
Greg Goulds 79-82-79—240
Ronnie Burton 83-81-81—245
Scott Campbell 89-80-76—245
Ansley Bishop 86-82-80—248
Jerry Whitt 84-79-91—254
Tommy Scott 92-82-82—258
James Love 89-88-83—260
MATCH PLAY FLIGHTS
Championship: Billy Haren def. Stephen Wilson
Consolation: Josh Taylor def. Tommy Tipton; Luke Bateman def. Richard Parker
Championship: Zachary Ensor def. Dylan Wyatt
Consolation: Stephen Swecker def. Michael Hawk; Tyler Stoudemire def Eric Hall
Championship: Caleb Tipton def. Zach McCamey
Consolation: Stephen Stehney def Troy Baker; Cole Greer def Brad Headrick
Championship: Garrett Rader def. Seth Greene
Consolation: Stephen Holmes def. Casey Goetz; Chris Tidwell def. Chad Napier
Championship: Paul Johnson def. Ian Herrin
Consolation: Brian Scott def. James Snyder