Sullivan Central takes five-team match in 'Betsy

Photo by Dave Boyd
Jared Thomas taps in a short putt for EHS.
By Ivan Sanders

   The greens were quick and the action was hot as five-area prep teams took to the links at Elizabethton Golf Course in high school match play on a beautiful Tuesday evening.
   Sullivan Central's Cougars shot a team total of 164 to outlast the Elizabethton Cyclones with a 167 to take the match, with the Unaka Rangers taking a respectable third place showing with a 192. Johnson County carded a round of 195 followed by Happy Valley with a 197 for the day.
   Central's Jason Fortner recorded an even-par 36 for nine holes to take the individual medal followed closely by Elizabethton's Brad Brown and Unaka's Chad Lewis with identical 38s. Elizabethton's number five seeded Caleb Tull came into the clubhouse with a strong 41 to keep EHS within a stroke's length of the Cougars.
   In the end, it was too much of Fortner and a total team effort by the Cougars who had five of its six golfers finish by recording a score of 45 or below.
   "The greens here have a lot of break, making them difficult to read," said Fortner on his outing. "If you don't hit the ball with the right speed, then you will have a real tester coming back."
   Fortner's day included a birdie on the 530-yard par five sixth hole where his drive traveled down the right side to within 260 yards of the pin. A solid four-iron shot landed five-yards from the cup and rolled back down the hill 15 yards to the left.
   A nice lob-wedge shot landed two inches from the cup, allowing Fortner to tap the ball into the heart of the hole for a birdie.
   Brown, coming off the last two matches played with a 36 and 37 respectively, was disappointed in the way his day went with the driver as well as the putter.
   "I didn't play well, especially with my putter, because I had a couple of three-putts on the day," stated Brown in reviewing his day's work. " Both times I hit my driver, I landed on the wrong fairway so I just put my driver back into the bag and left it."
   The play of Tull was a pleasant surprise for the Cyclone team with six seed Jacob Thomas matching number two EHS golfer Eric Carter with a 44.
   Unaka, looking to gain some respect for its golf team, may have done just that as the Rangers claimed third place behind Lewis and another great performance from a six seed in Aaron Greer, who closed out the day by carding a 49. Tyler McCann was close behind Greer with a 50.
   "I really just played it conservatively and tried not to worry to much about making big things happen," remarked Lewis. "My iron play was pretty good and I putted real well. I am pleased with the 38."
   B.J. Townsend and Nathan Howell led Happy Valley's team on the day by shooting identical 10-over par 46s followed by Matt Howell with a 51. For Johnson County, Jesse Gilbert, playing in the number four seed, tallied out at 46 to lead the Longhorn charge.
   Gary Evans followed Gilbert with a 47 in contributing to the scoring ledger. A complete breakdown of the match's scores can be found in today's scoreboard section.