published Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Ringgold Telephone Junior Classic is a tight tournament

The college coaches were watching.

Coaches from Duke, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Middle Tennessee State and Dalton State were scouting players during the first two rounds of the Ringgold Telephone Junior Classic.

That didn't matter to Michael Sanders.

He loved it.

"It's cool to know they were watching our group," said Sanders, who will be a freshman this fall in Davidson, N.C. "I didn't want to choke too bad when all of those guys were out there."

Sanders and some of his competitors in the AJGA Junior All-Star event have given coaches plenty of good golf to witness at WindStone Golf Club.

Sanders shot a 4-under 67 on Wednesday in the wind to back up an opening round of 65. He's tied with Noah Goodwin of Corinth, Tex., who opened with an 8-under 63 and returned Wednesday to shoot 69.

Trent Phillips of Inman, S.C., is one shot off the lead after he shot a 68 then a 67. Evan Sun of Wesley Chapel Fla., is 7 under for the tournament and will complete the final foursome of today's final round.

The girls competition is close as well at the top of the leaderboard.

Kendall Griffin of Sebring, Fla., leads at 1 under. But Morgan Baxendale of Windermere, Fla., and Sera Tadokoro of Hilton Head (via Japan) are two strokes back at 1 over.

Sanders -- who has seen his fair share of Davidson College basketball games -- made one bogey, three birdies and eagled the par-5 17th for a second straight day to get his 67 strokes.

"I really like the course," he said. "It's great that you can put it in the fairway and have great opportunities with wedges and short irons into greens that are in really good shape."

Goodwin set the pace for the tournament when he posted a 63 on Tuesday after playing in the first threesome of the tournament. He followed with a yo-yo round of three bogeys and five birdies -- including three of his last five holes -- to shoot 69 just a few days after driving about 12 hours from Texas to play in this tournament.

"Yesterday was crazy," he said of his 63. "Today was different. My back was hurting, but I kept giving myself looks at birdie. Finally, a couple of them dropped."

Phillips moseyed around the front nine with a par on every hole. But he closed with birdies on four of his last seven holes. He shot 4-under 32 on the back nine both days.

"I'm just 1 under on the front nine," joked Phillips, whose older brother Trevor will play for Georgia in the fall. "Tomorrow, I'll go as low as possible and try to go real low. You have to go get it. It's not coming to you."

The Chattanooga area contingent of golfers had mixed results with Justin Hickman and Evan Spence shaving two strokes from their opening-round scores.

Heading into the final round, Hickman is tied for 32nd at 146. Tyson Venable is at 151, Spence is at 156 and Davis Kirk is at 158. As for the area girls, Reagan Hall played three shots better Wednesday and is at 171, while McKenzie Frizzell is at 180.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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