First round of East Tennessee Amateur today   

By Wes Holtsclaw
star staff
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

  Tee it up.
  The tenth annual East Tennessee Amateur Golf Tournament begins today at the Elizabethton Golf Course.
  Numbers aren't quite what the tournament organizers would've hoped for going into the event, but there is enough talent to make for another pretty competitive event.
  Last year, the championship round saw 60 golfers compete for the top prize. This year, there are only 45 participants.
  One bright spot for the tournament is the large numbers of participants in the flight play division.
  "Our concern is that the championship flight is pretty low," said Elizabethton Golf Course professional and manager Steve Howard. "There are some other events that have taken people. Last year, we had 60, this year we had 45. Some of them turned professional, so naturally they can't play."
  "Other than that, everything looks good. We are overbooked in the flight play and in the seniors, we have 21, which is about what we did last year," he said.
  Once again, the tournament is sponsored by Carter County Bank.
  There will be over $12,000 in merchandise given away at the event, in which the championship is a Tennessee Golf Association points event.
  As far as favorites go, look no further than Chris Guy and Joe Humston.
  Guy finished second in the tournament last year, while Humston led going into the final round. A local favorite, Humston is coming off an impressive victory at the Link Hills Invitational.
  "There's a number of cabable ones, but those two are at the top," added Howard.
  Other names to look for include Bryan Sangid, who was a second stage U.S. Open qualifier, Cary Daniels and Ron Waters. Jimmy Humston, of Austin-Peay University and Joe's younger brother, is also expected to turn in three solid rounds.
  As far as the seniors division goes, last year's victor Tom Foster and constant competitor Rick Moore are favorites. But Senior State Match Play Tournament winner Ben Long is probably the overall favorite coming into the event.
  The course itself is in great shape.
  "The course is probably in as good of shape as we've had it in a while," said Howard. "The weather's been real good to us. Hopefully, if it doesn't do a lot of raining this weekend, the golf course will make it a real good test."
  One of the big questions coming into today's play is the always dreaded rain. If rain does become a problem, there is always a back-up plan.
  "We just get in as much golf as we can and start back as early as we can the next day," the course manager said. "I've been here five years now and we haven't had to do that, yet. We have had some rain and we called them off the course, waited a while and sent them back. Hopefully, that's the way it'll be this year (if it rains)."
  For complete ETA coverage and real time scoring, pick up the Elizabethton STAR and visit the Elizabethton Golf Course website at www.elizabethtongolf.com.
  Click on the East Tennessee Amateur link for live scoring.