Few surprises with one round to play

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com


   After the first two rounds of play in the East Tennessee Amateur Golf Tournament, there were few surprises.
   As expected, defending champion Ryan Strickland dominated Championship play with two rounds of 68, holding a two-stroke lead over Chris Guy and Joe Humston.
   "It was steady today," Strickland said. "I had four birdies but left two out there and that was about my only mistakes. I'd rather be under par after nine than over. I like to play like I did today.
   The other key favorites weren't too shabby either.
   Strickland's teammates Humston, Adam Shanks and Chris Harder were in the mix of things as well.
   Humston, a favorite among tournament competitors, came on strong Saturday with the round of the day at 67.
   "I've got a lot of buddies from school and we want to go eye to eye on Sunday," the Johnson City native said. "It could've been better, but I'll take a 67 any day."
   Shanks, a former two-time winner, was consistent with a 70 Saturday, pulling him within four of Strickland's lead.
   "I still feel like I have a chance," he said. "Every year it's around 6 to 12 under, and that's obviously where it's going to be at the end."
   Shanks and Humston, both Science Hill alum, call Elizabethton their home course. It doesn't hurt in the long run.
   "Every summer we play almost every day out here," Humston said. "And it helps me for the tournament, this being my home course."
   Chris Guy tied with Humston Saturday after a strong 68. The Hampton resident, employed by tournament sponsor Carter County Bank, is excited to be in Today's final group.
   "I'm just trying to hang in there with the young guys, wanting to keep it close," Guy said. "I got some big breaks, but it could've been better."
   Another golfer who emerged during Saturday's round was Alcoa native Ron Waters, who currently sits at fourth after his 68.
   "I played pretty well and made the puts I'm supposed to make, otherwise I got what I deserved," Waters said. "I pulled it real well, but the guys in front and around me are playing well. I've got to show up and we'll see what happens."
   Tusculum standout Matt Smith was tied for the lead Friday, but fell to seventh after Saturday's 71.
   "I missed a lot of putts and wasn't hitting it as well today," the Meadowview, Va. native said. "I birdied the last two holes and I wanted to keep it around an even par. I think I'll be in good shape for tomorrow."
   Tom Foster battled his way to the top of the Senior's standings Saturday after a strong 72, leading Glen Cowan and Don Kyte.
   "You can't go wrong (by leading), but we have a lot of golf to go," Foster said. "Don and Glen are very good, I'll have to do my work. Just to have the opportunity to win is all you can ask for."