ELIZABETHTON — Organizers of the Carter County Bank East Tennessee Amateur golf tournament went through 2,000 pounds of ice and 60 cases of water last year during the hottest weekend in the event’s 18-year history.
This year, they’re hoping Mother Nature doesn’t provide the water.
Elizabethton Golf Course received more than 21?2 inches of rain on Wednesday and it dodged much of Thursday’s predicted rain. But it figures not to be as lucky once the 54-hole tournament begins today.
With a 60 percent chance of rain and expected thunderstorms in the forecast for today and Saturday — and Sunday not looking a whole lot better — this year’s East Tennessee Amateur should have a different feel than last year when temperatures exceeded the 100-degree mark.
Not that the competitors are worried.
“Rain or shine, I’m gonna go out there with the same approach I had last year,” defending champion Ben Treadway said. “I can’t let that bother me. We just have to play. If I miss a green, try to grind out a par and then try to birdie the par-fives.”
While Treadway said it was nice to be the defending champion, he’s not putting any stock in that fact.
“I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself,” Treadway said. “I’m not worrying about that. Last year was a little different. I was in Florida the week before. When I got back, it was 100 degrees here. This week it’s gonna be 80 and rainy.”
Treadway’s winning score last year was three under par. He closed with a 75 and appeared to be throwing the tournament away before making three birdies in a row coming in to beat Nick York by one stroke.
“I almost shot myself in the foot,” Treadway said. “I did shoot myself in the foot, but I got the bullet out.”
Treadway is one of five former East Tennessee Amateur champions in this year’s field, joining Bryan Sangid (2004), Richard Lowe (2009), York (2010) and Carlson Cox (2011).
Sangid is coming off a tournament victory. He shot a final-round 66 to win the Crossings Invitational two weeks ago.
“I played pretty well there,” Sangid said. “I just concentrated, got into a zone and forgot about everything else except what I was doing right then and there. It seems like it doesn’t happen too often when you can just fully concentrate on golf. It makes it more exciting.”
Mike Poe is the defending senior champion. He overcame a 10-shot deficit on the final day last year with a closing 70.
Elizabethton has been the site of some good scoring in recent years. Two years ago, Cox tied the 54-hole record at 14 under par. Last year, Nick Cohen finished with a 64 that equaled the second-lowest round in tournament history. York holds the single-round mark with a 62 during his championship in ’10.
“It’s a good test,” Sangid said. “It’ll show your weaknesses sometimes if you get a little too comfortable and take it for granted. And there’s a lot of good players. I’d say you won’t be able to to play just mediocre and win the tournament.”