Driving accuracy is one of the strong points of William Nottingham’s game.
So far, it has led to consistency and paid dividends at Spring Creek Ranch this week.
Nottingam, a Kingsport native, has made 11 birdies over two rounds and posted back-to-back rounds of 69 to hold a one-stroke lead over Nashville’s Brock Ochsenreiter at the midway point of the 103rd annual Tennessee Amateur Championship.
The field was cut to the top 60 players and ties (61) following play on Wednesday.
“I’ve just tried to focus on hitting the fairways, because that’s the main thing out here,” Nottingham said. “If you hit the fairways, you have a lot of good opportunities to make birdies. I’ve been able to do that and set myself up with some good chances.”
“I think the course fits my game pretty well. I drive it pretty straight and that’s one of the things you have to do well here.”
Nottingham began his second round one stroke back of the lead and quickly birdied two of his first three holes to move in front.
He followed with bogeys on 4 and 10, but added three more birdies coming in.
Nottingham, the 2015 and 2016 Tennessee Junior champion, led the first three rounds of the Tennessee Amateur at Belle Meade Country Club last year before finishing tied for seventh.
“There’s a lot of good players coming up behind me,” Nottingham said. “I’ve just got to keep trying to make some birdies and see what happens.”
Ochsenreiter, who won a pair of high school state championships at Ensworth and now plays at Indiana University, followed his opening round 72 with a 5-under, 67 to shoot up to second place.
His round consisted of six birdies, an eagle and three bogeys.
“I just kept it in the fairway today,” said Ochsenreiter, who finished 13th in his first Tennessee Amateur appearance last year. “If you put it in the rough out here, you catch major fliers. I just put myself in good position and was able to make some putts.”
Currently tied for third are first-round leader Lee Maxwell (68-72, Cookeville) and University of Tennessee golfer Brayden Garrison (71-69, Nolensville) at 4-under.
Rising Clemson University sophomore Kyle Cottam (Knoxville) erased the memories of a nightmarish second nine from Tuesday with the lowest round of the tournament so far – a 6-under, 66.
Cottam started his opening round with five birdies in seven holes, but turned in a 43 on his second nine (the front side) on his way to a 75. He shot ten strokes better on that nine Wednesday.
“I started great yesterday and then things went pretty bad,” Cottam said. “I realized I have to shape the ball off the tee a little better. On some holes, the rough isn’t as bad as the pond or something.”
“I just played a little smarter today. I’m making a lot of putts, I just have to keep putting it in the fairway and getting it on the green.”
Five other players are under par heading into the final two rounds, including six-time Tennessee Amateur champion Tim Jackson.
Jackson (72-70, Williston) is 2-under and tied for sixth with Redmont Ross (70-72, Memphis) and Ryan Terry (70-72, Nashville).
Tied for ninth at 1-under are Philip Lee (70-73, Nashville) and Aaron Ingalls (74-69, Jackson).
AT SPRING CREEK RANCH
Second round, August 8, 2018
1 William Nottingham -6
2 Brock Ochsenreiter -5
T3 Brayden Garrison -4
T3 Lee Maxwell -4
5 Kyle Cottam -3
T6 Ross Redmont -2
T6 Ryan Terry -2
T6 Tim Jackson -2
T9 Philip Lee -1
T9 Aaron Ingalls -1
T11 Andrew Duff E
T11 Alan McAfee E
T11 Zachary Smith E
T14 Bryce Lewis +1
T14 Craig Smith +1
T14 Whit Turnbow +1
T14 Trevor Johnson +1
T14 Michael Shears +1
T19 Buzz Fly +2
T19 William Grisanti +2
T19 Russell Williamson +2
T19 Brian Henson +2
T19 Jackson Skeen +2
T19 Jack Smith +2
T25 Jack Morris +3
T25 Hunter Wolcott +3