Hunter Wolcott Fires 63, Leads Tennessee Open After Opening Round
DICKSON – Halfway through his opening round in the Tennessee State Open, Hunter Wolcott didn’t even have the best score in his family, much less the entire tournament field.
But the rising University of Tennessee junior kept giving himself quality looks, and once his putter started heating up there was no cooling him off.
Wolcott, playing in a group with his dad Bob and older brother Ben, fired a first-round 63 at GreyStone Golf Club on Tuesday to hold a one-stroke lead over Austin Peay University’s Austin Lancaster.
The second round of the state championship is scheduled for Wednesday, with the field being cut to the top 60 and ties for Thursday’s final round.
Hunter Wolcott made the turn at three-under – three strokes behind his brother – but carded six birdies on the back nine.
The familiarity with the course helped with his confidence level. Bob, a former PGA Tour pro and winner of the 1983 Tennessee Open, has been involved with GreyStone since it opened in the late 1990s, and his sons grew up playing the course.
“Early on the front nine, I just wasn’t putting it that well,” Hunter Wolcott said. “I found something and made some birdies coming in. I just had a lot of confidence on that back nine and gave myself a lot of looks.”
“Playing here every day, if I can get the ball on the green I feel like I’m going to make them. I made some good putts.”
It was the first high level competitive tournament round that the three Wolcotts had played together. They will be grouped together again on Wednesday. Ben Wolcott finished at 6-under and Bob Wolcott was 4-over.
“Obviously, I want to beat him,” Hunter Wolcott said of his brother. “But I’m just out there focusing on me and taking it one shot at a time … only handling the things that I can control – my process and my routine.”
“It was a lot of fun watching him (Ben) make a lot of putts and play well. I’m sure he would say the same thing. It was just a lot of fun with them out there today.”
Lancaster, a rising junior at Austin Peay, started on the back nine and birdied four of his first five holes before back-to-back bogeys temporarily slowed him down. He responded with birdies on two of his next three holes and then eagled the par four, 5th from 86 yards out to finish at 8-under, 64.
“I think the course really fits my game,” Lancaster said. “I hit kind of a low ball flight off the tee that I can get running with my driver. We play out here all the time at Austin Peay, so I know the course pretty well. I love the course.”
Chattanooga native Paul Apyan and UNC-Charlotte golfer Trey Tobias (Franklin) are tied for third at 7-under. East Tennessee State University golfer Jack Rhea (Jonesborough) and Brooks Thomas (Chattanooga) are tied with Ben Wolcott for fifth at 6-under.
2018 Tennessee Open runner-up and Lipscomb product Eric Ansett is in a group tied for eighth at 5-under. It also includes another Lipscomb graduate, Stoney Crouch – who tied for fifth in the event last year – ETSU’s Austin Carter, Belmont graduate Noah Trenkler, Lipscomb’s Nolan Ray, MTSU’s Tanner Owens, and Casey Flenniken, PGA (Toqua Golf Course).
A total of 62 players shot under par on Tuesday.
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