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Blackthorn Club gears up for college tourney

Joe Avento • Oct 9, 2019 at 7:23 PM

Blackthorn Club at the Ridges is gearing up for its big college tournament, just as it has for the previous 21 years.

Fifteen teams will converge on the club for the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at Blackthorn Club, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday.

East Tennessee State is the defending champion, having won its home tournament for the first time last year in retiring coach Fred Warren’s final try. The Bucs shot 32 under par, the second-lowest score in the tournament’s history.

Virginia holds the record of 35 under par, set in 2017.

Low scoring can be expected again this year, thanks to good course conditions and true and fast greens.

“We certainly don’t trick up the golf course,” Blackthorn head professional Mike Davenport said Wednesday morning. “That’s one reason I think teams enjoy coming back here year after year. It’s going to be a fair setup. Let their play dictate what they shoot. If they play well, the score is out there.”

The Arthur Hills course has been testing the college golfers since 1998, and the tough layout has yielded a wide range of winning scores, thanks to factors such as weather, green speeds and the length of the rough.

In 2001, TCU defended its title with a team score of 23 under par. The next year, Wake Forest won at 12 over. That’s the highest winning score.

Individually, Missouri’s Hayden Buckley holds the scoring record of 17 under par 199, set in 2017. That makes him the only golfer to break 200 for 54 holes.

The highest winning score came in 2002, when five players — Wake Forest’s Bill Haas, Duke’s Leif Olson, Tennessee’s Ian Parnaby, North Carolina’s Dustin Bray and TCU’s David Schultz — tied at 1-under-par 215.

Several players who have appeared in the tournament have gone on to win major championships and hundreds of millions of dollars.

The lowest round ever shot in the tournament’s history is 63, first shot by ETSU’s Shiso Go in 2017. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, Go did it again last year on the same day Louisville’s Simon Zach also went that low.

Two ETSU players have won the individual championship, Rhys Davies in 2005 and 2006, and Adrian Meronk in 2015.

Action gets underway Friday morning and admission is free.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Davenport said. “The weather should be great. It should be a great event.”