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Rhea’s 67 keeps Bucs close; Vols lead at Blackthorn

Joe Avento • Oct 11, 2019 at 8:22 PM

JONESBOROUGH — Jack Rhea was right at home Friday and that was good news for the East Tennessee State golf team.

Rhea shot a 5-under-par 67 on the course where he grew up, helping the Bucs stay within shouting distance of first-round leader Tennessee in the 22nd annual Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at Blackthorn Club.

“In the past, I think he’s felt a little bit of pressure playing here just because of the expectations,” first-year ETSU coach Jake Amos said. “We worked on having a different mentality, treating it like playing in the club championship. He knows this course better than anybody else, so we just left him to it and I think he’s feeling more comfortable now.”

The Vols shot 15 under par to grab a one-shot lead over Louisville. ETSU, the defending champion, shot 7 under and was in sixth place after the first round.

The field took advantage of perfect scoring conditions to go low. Thirty-eight players broke par on the 7,147-yard Arthur Hills layout and 18 of them were in the 60s.

Tennessee coach Brennan Webb celebrated his 45th birthday by coaching his team into the first-round lead. Webb, who played at ETSU, watched his team post four sub-par rounds, including 67s by Chip Thomas and Hunter Wolcott and a 68 by Spencer Cross.

“They were all wishing me a happy birthday this morning,” Webb said. “This is a pretty good present.

“I told them just to be patient, take the birdies when they come. There’s plenty of birdie opportunities out there.”

Benjamin Shipp of North Carolina State shot 65 to grab the individual lead. He played on the back nine in 6 under.

Louisville’s John Murphy and UNC Wilmington’s Segundo Oliva Pinto both shot 66.

Rhea had one bogey to go with his six birdies, and his short birdie putt on the 18th hole capped a 3-under back nine.

“I had good control of my speed on the greens and I had good distance control of my irons and wedges,” Rhea said. “It was a pretty stress-less round of golf. I put it in the fairway, kind of hit it to 15, 20 feet all day and just birdied the holes I was supposed to.”

Also for ETSU, Shiso Go posted a 70, Archie Davies and Trevor Hulbert each had a 72 and Samuel Espinosa shot 76. Austin Carter, playing as an individual, shot 72.

Furman was in third place at 11 under, followed by UNC Wilmington and N.C. State at 8 under.

The second round of the 54-hole tournament is scheduled for Saturday, and Amos reminded the Bucs they could make up that eight-shot deficit in a hurry if they get on a roll.

“The message today is, ‘How many times do you see on the PGA Tour that someone is six or seven back heading into the weekend and wins?’ ” Amos said. “We know what the course is going to be like. We know how to make birdies. Come out hot tomorrow, that’s the goal, and then it’s just keep the foot down.”


Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate

At Blackthorn Club

Par 72, 7,147 yards

Friday’s first round

Team scores

Tennessee 273

Louisville 274

Furman 277

UNC Wilmington 280

N.C. State 280

ETSU 281

Coastal Carolina 282

Ole Miss 285

East Carolina 285

Penn State 287

Virginia Tech 288

Missouri 291

Virginia 292

Virginia Commonwealth 299

Villanova 313

Individual leaders

Benjamin Shipp, N.C. State 65

John Murphy, Louisville 66

A. Segundo Olivia Pinto, UNCW 66

Keller Harper, Furman 67

Jack Rhea, ETSU 67

Chip Thomas, Tennessee 67

Hunter Wolcott, Tennessee 67

Spencer Cross, Tennessee 68

Reynolds Lambert, Furman 68

Blake Taylor, East Carolina 69

Zack Taylor, Coastal Carolina 69

Alec Bard, Penn State 69

Mark Lawrence, Virginia Tech 69

Max Steinlechner, N.C. State 69

Christofer Rahm, UNCW 69

Wei Wei Gao, Virginia 69

Keegan DeLange, Louisville 69

Trevor Johnson, Louisville 69

Other ETSU golfers

x-playing as individual

Shiso Go (t19) 70

Archie Davies (t39) 72

X-Austin Carter (t39) 72

Trevor Hulbert (t39) 72

Sam Espinosa (t68) 76