Nick Blakely has completed the coursework to earn a master's degree from Lipscomb University. He just needs to write his thesis -- the hard part.
The former Ooltewah High School and Birmingham-Southern College golfer has aced the first two rounds of the Choo-Choo Invitational and heads into the final round today at Council Fire with a two-stroke lead over Matthew Mahle and Ben Wolcott.
"It's been a long time since I've been in contention for a tournament," Blakely said after shooting a 4-under-par 68 on Tuesday for a 36-hole 137. "But I'm not too worried about that. I'm just going out there to play golf at Council Fire, and I've done that enough to know what I'm doing."
Mahle, the first-round leader from the College of Charleston, shot a 74 for his 139. Wolcott, the defending champion from Ole Miss, had a 73 Tuesday.
"I made a few good saves and I got a couple nice birdies when I could," said Blakely, who made five birdies along with a bogey on No. 3. "It wasn't anything special. I totaled them up, and next thing you know I'm at 4 under."
Only 10 of 75 players in the amateur division broke par Tuesday. Only one of the 18 in the senior division broke par.
Chattanooga's Neil Spitalny leads the senior division after a 70 that has him at 3-under 141 heading into the final round. He has a two-shot lead on first-round leader Chris Hall, who shot a 77 on Tuesday.
Chattanooga-area residents Tom Baird, Mitch Hufstetler and Richard Keene are tied for third at 149.
The lead group of seniors will start at 8:15 a.m., and the lead amateurs will start at 12:09 this afternoon.
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.