Cayman Ratliff played the round he was looking for Thursday and walked away from Cleveland Country Club with the first-place trophy as the 2013 Tennessee Junior Amateur Champion.
Ratliff came into the final round with a 1-stroke lead over Jack Smith and Mikey Feher. The 17-year old, from Kingsport, started strong with a bogey free front nine and held a 2-under par 33 at the turn after rolling in birdies at Nos. 6 and 8.
Ratliff remained bogey free the rest of the day and parred the back nine at CCC for a bogey free round of 68.
Ratliff finished the week with 10 birdies, 38 pars and six bogeys. His rounds of 69-69-68 (206) gave him a 4-under par finish to put him two shots ahead of Smith’s 208. Scott Stevens of Chattanooga finished at 209, 1-under par.
"It (the win) means a lot. I started the day 1-up and tried to make a few birdies. I didn't want to make any mistakes. I didn't have any bogies,” said the new state amateur champ.
Scott Stevens finished third with a 209 total, Zach Haynes was fourth with 212 and Matthew Giles rounded out the top five with 213.
The win was not without a little drama for Ratliff. Feeling the heat from Smith late in the round, Ratliff bore down to stay bogey free with pars on the five holes to lock up the championship.
“Toward the end, I was 3-up on Jack with five to play. He was hitting great shots. He knocked it stiff on 15 and 16 and made the putt on 15 and barely missed 16. At that point I felt like I might need to make one more birdie, but is was mostly trying to not make any mistakes, and make pars,” he said.
The winner said his goal Thursday was the same as it always is when he heads to the links, to play bogey-free and keep errors to a minimum. The philosophy paid off in a big way for Ratliff, who will defend his Junior Amateur title next year in his final season of eligibility.
"It's always important to not make any errors. That's my goal every time I go out there, not make any bogies. Every single round if I play bogey free I'm happy even if it's 18 pars. If I throw some birdies in there, that's great," he stated.
Cleveland Country Club general manager Lamar Mills was just happy to get a rain-free day of golf in the books and said the event went without a hitch, outside of the weather.
"It's been real good. After all the conditions and weather we had leading up to it, overall the last three days have been really good. The golf course came around nice for them and we got a lot of great feedback on the conditions," said Mills. "We had some great scores out there."