The 70th Ridgefields Invitational begins Friday and two former champions got into the field at the last second. Lucas Armstrong and William Nottingham were eliminated at the state event earlier than they had hoped, making them available to play in Kingsport.
The Four-Ball championship match is set for Friday, and had either advanced to that round with their partner, they would have missed Ridgefields.
Instead, the golfers who have won the last three tournaments at the Donald Ross Course on the Holston River are expected to be the favorites in the 54-hole tournament that starts Friday and runs through Sunday. It’s part of the Tri-Cities Amateur Tour.
At the Four Ball, Armstrong and partner Lawrence Largent bowed out in the first round of match play, falling in 22 holes Tuesday.
Nottingham was paired with his Clemson teammate Kyle Cottam and they earned the top seed after firing a nine-under-par 61. They won a pair of matches on Wednesday before falling 1-up to Tennessee signees Cade Russel and Trenton Johnson on Thursday morning.
A couple of weeks ago, Nottingham shot a 59 at Ridgefields, so he should be ready to go on short notice. He won the tournament in 2016 and 2017 in addition to finishing second in 2014 when he closed with a 63.
Armstrong won the championship last year with a nine-under-par total. He finished with a 67 and won by nine strokes. He was the only player to break par for the 54 holes.
“It’s always a good feeling when you’re trying to defend a tournament you won the previous year,” Armstrong said. “Ridgefields has always been a special tournament. I used to go up there when I was probably 9 years old to watch my dad, and I was there playing the match play flights the year Scott Stallings won. There’s always been a lot of great local competition and a few guys from outside the Tri-Cities and it’s just fun to compete.”
Armstrong, the golf coach at Volunteer High School, won the Tennessee State Pro-Am at Millstone this year and has qualified for next week’s Southern Amateur. He leaves for Arkansas on Monday and he’d like to take another Ridgefields trophy with him.
“I’ve been playing pretty steady this summer,” he said. “I’m looking forward to going out there and playing with one of the kids on my high school team tomorrow and have some fun.”
Greeneville’s Tim Dinwiddie, the defending senior champion, will be challenged by a strong field that includes Bill Argabrite, Mike Poe, James Fender, Tony Green, Cary Daniels and Mark Halvorsen.
Dinwiddie shot five under par last year, playing conservatively on the final day after building a cushion with a pair of 69s.