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Appalachia graduate qualifies for U.S. Senior Open

JOE AVENTO • Jun 19, 2019 at 11:54 PM

Dennis Wells is about to achieve his lifelong dream of teeing it up with the greats of the game.

Wells, a 1982 graduate of the old Appalachia High School in Virginia and a former Carson-Newman golfer, qualified for the U.S. Senior Open, scheduled for June 27-30 at the Warren Course at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

Wells qualified by shooting a 1-under par 70 at Worthington Hills Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. There were 69 players vying for two spots and he finished tied for second. After winning a playoff for the final spot, he punched his ticket to the Open.

“It has always been a career goal to compete against the best players in the world at least once in my life, and now I will get the chance,” Wells said. “My family could hardly believe it when I pulled up the list of players in the field from the USGA website and saw that my name was listed right after Tom Watson, my boyhood idol.”

Wells grew up playing at Cedar Hills Country Club in Jonesville and learned how to play under the tutelage of Shannon Evans.

Wells is the head professional and general manager at Little Miami Golf Center in Cincinnati.


Cliff Kresge will make his first PGA Tour Champions start since his successful trip to Japan this weekend in the American Family Insurance Championship in Madison, Wisconsin.

Kresge, a Kingsport native, finished tied for 10th in his last tournament, the Mastercard Japan Championship. That moved him up to 62nd in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.

Kresge will also play in the U.S. Senior Open next week.


Mark the date. The Ridgefields Invitational is set for July 12-14 in Kingsport.

The 54-hole tournament will be stroke play for the championship and senior divisions and match play for the regular flights. Entrants with a USGA handicap index of 3.0 or lower must play in the championship division.

There is also a super senior division for players 65 and older.

The entry fee is $175 and includes a practice round, three tournament rounds, cart fees, range balls and lunch each day of the tournament.

Call Ridgefields at (423) 392-8373 for more information.


Cattails at MeadowView will be the site of a Family Golf Festival on Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

Activities include free golf instruction, clinics, interactive golf games, contests, giveaways, food trucks and more.

World Long Drive athlete Trent Scruggs will be on hand to help golfers gain more distance off the tee.

Representatives from the First Tee, PGA Jr. League, TaylorMade and the professional staff from Cattails will be on hand.

For more information, call (423) 578-6622.


As an award-winning photographer, Tom Raymond has gotten up-close and personal with plenty of athletes, but last week was a different story.

Raymond was inside the ropes during the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He didn’t have his camera with him. Instead, the avid golfer was serving as a volunteer for the U.S. Golf Association.

“If you are a fan of golf, there is no closer experience than doing what I was able to do,” Raymond, of Johnson City, said.

Raymond was a marshal on the fourth hole. Since the fourth and 17th holes shared a teeing area, he also assisted players moving from the 16th green, across the fourth tee to the 17th tee.

It was the second U.S. Open Raymond has worked. Both have been at Pebble Beach.

“On Sunday I stood only 10 feet from Tiger as he hit his tee shot on No. 4,” Raymond said. “Nothing but air between myself and the person that has and still does define the game of golf. It was surreal to watch this sports icon up close.”

Raymond also had a brief interaction with Rhys Enoch, the former East Tennessee State All-American who made the cut with a spectacular 66 in the second round. He said “Go Bucs.” Enoch replied with a smile and a thumbs-up gesture.


Gary Woodland became a household name Sunday when he won the U.S. Open, but when he played in our area, his performance was anything but remarkable.

Woodland played for Kansas in the 2004 Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at Blackthorn Club and finished tied for 59th. His rounds of 78, 72 and 76 left him 10 over par, 18 strokes behind winner Philip Pettitt of Tennessee.

Oklahoma’s Anthony Kim finished second that year and Wake Forest’s Webb Simpson, another future U.S. Open champion, was third.

Woodland’s Kansas team was 12th in the final standings.


Local golfers will have a chance to get to know Bryan Bentley, the new professional at Pine Oaks Golf Course, Friday and Saturday when the course hosts a meet-and-greet.

The folks at the Johnson City-owned course are encouraging golfers to come out and “enjoy a day of fun, food and golf.” Food trucks will be on hand both days.

Call Pine Oaks at (423) 434-6250 for more information.


The Web.com Tour’s run is over effective immediately.

The PGA Tour announced Wednesday that Korn Ferry, a global consulting firm, has replaced Web.com as the title sponsor of the PGA Tour’s developmental tour.

The tour became the Korn Ferry Tour as of Wednesday and the deal runs through 2028.