Governors' race: Shanks soars, Strickland sours

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It was embarrassing for one, but redemption for another.
   Ryan Strickland woke up Sunday morning with the East Tennessee Amateur Golf Championship in the palm of his hand, but after the third hole, things went downhill.
   A triple-bogey threw the defending tournament champion off his game and paved the way for two of his Austin-Peay teammates.
   "That threw me off balance," Strickland said. "I can handle a bogey, but that was too much. I tried to play more aggressive the rest of the way in and it got me in trouble.
   "It snowballed on me."
   Coming into the final round, Hampton's Chris Guy and Johnson City native Joe Humston were tied for second, while two-time winner Adam Shanks was held in fifth position.
   Shanks stormed onto the Elizabethton course with two birdies, and the race was on.
   Humston and Shanks took what Strickland gave them and battled through the first 11 holes, but it was Shanks who prevailed in the race of the Governors.
   Shanks shot a steady 70 the first two rounds, but dissected the Elizabethton Golf Course with a solid round of 65, just two off a tournament record, to become the second golfer to ever win three ETA Championships.
   For Strickland, who shot 76 after two rounds of 68, it was a poor day. He was clearly frustrated throughout the round.
   "It was embarrassing," the Nashville native said. "I'm too good of a player to shoot that."
   Strickland, Shanks and Humston will all turn professional this year, but it was Shanks who got the best out of playing behind.
   "It was unbelievable, I couldn't ask for a better day," Shanks said. "I caught myself a few times out there, it was sentimental because this is it. I told myself to 'just make birdies and they can't catch you.' I played a great round."
   For his last amateur event, things couldn't have been any better.
   "I couldn't have written it any better," he said. "It was a feat for myself."
   Humston may have caught Shanks on the back nine, but an out-of-bounds shot before striking a golf cart a few feet away from some local media members flushed his chances.
   "I had no idea what he was doing," Humston said of Shanks. "I played hard and hit the top of the hill and didn't make the cut coming down the stretch."
   "I was confident in myself," he said. "But it was tough to know what he was doing. He deserves it and he played well."
   Humston eventually tied with Chris Guy for second, five strokes behind the champ.
   "Adam had a great front nine, but I knew I was still in it," said Guy. "I thought 14 was a turning point, but I got a bad break."
   Guy was pleased with his round, but believes there is nothing but good things in the future for the tournament.
   "You look at the guys who are coming up and who have won here," he said. "We have players at the college level and with a lot of experience. The young guys are continuing to grow here and it helps us a lot."
   With several of this year's top players out of next year's event, it clearly looks as if anyone could take home the crystal vase.
   But right now, the day of Shanks will be a sitting reminder on the Elizabethton fairways.
   Tom Foster picked up where he left off Saturday with a solid round to take the Senior Championship. Rick Harrell battled his way into second while Glen Cowan slipped to third after leading through the first six holes.
   "I choked everything today," the two-time champ Foster said. "But Glen Cowan should've won. He played well and had a few bad breaks. I was fortunate, especially at a place I've cherished for a long time."