After two days of nonstop rain, the best and the brightest young golfers in the state found themselves playing in increasingly swampy conditions.
However, unrelenting rain, spongy greens and pooling water didn’t keep two local gofers out of the Top 10 when play came to an end Thursday.
University of West Georgia signee and Walker Valley graduate Clark Melton put in another strong round to finish the tournament, shooting a 1-under 71 and finishing play 2-under overall and in a three-way-tie for seventh place.
It wasn’t an easy start for Melton in his closing round. He kicked off day three with a double bogey on No. 1. Birdies on Nos. 4 and 6 were countered by bogeys on holes 5 and 7 to put him a stroke over going into the back nine.
Melton found his stride, shotting birdies on Nos. 12, 14 and 15 and making par on everything else to finish a second straight day at a stroke under. He shot an even par in his opening round.
After struggling in his second round, Walker Valley graduate and Young Harris College signee Corey Evans came on strong to close the tournament with a 1-under overall and a share of 10th place.
Evans had some ground to make up on his final day after shooting a 3-over 75 on Wednesday and an even par in his opening round, and make up ground he did.
Through 18 and despite the sloppy conditions, Evans birdied Nos. 5, 6, 10, 14 and 18 and tallied only a single bogey on No. 2 to close out the tournament with a very respectable 4-under 68 and 1-under overall for the championship.
Polk County senior Evan Ball’s struggles continued in the closing round of the tournament, shooting a 7-over 79 in his final round to close play with at 23-over and in 58th place overall.
Ben Reeves out of Knoxville took home the championship despite shooting a 2-over 74 in his closing round. A first round 69 and a second round 66 had built him a secure enough lead to weather his final round.
Peyton Sliger of Maryville and a Lee University signee took second, going 6-under for the tournament. He shot a first round 67, second round 73 and a closing round 70.
Jack Smith and Stuart Thomas, both of Knoxville, took home a share of third place, finishing at 4-under overall.
Rounding out the top five finishers were Sydney Chung of Jackson and Austin Kramer of Knoxville, who tied for fifth place with a score of 3-under par.