It’s not often William Blount golfer Nick Etherton is all smiles after a performance.
A sophomore, Etherton tends to be hard on himself, homing in on the things he could have done better.
Tuesday’s competition against Maryville and Knoxville Catholic was different for the rising star. Etherton shot a season personal best 5-under 31 at Green Meadow Country Club, sparking William Blount to victory.
The Governors’ score of 157 was their lowest since William Blount coach Michael Bradshaw took over the program two years ago.
Catholic (165) placed second in front of Maryville (180). On the girls side, Catholic (79) edged Maryville (85) for first place. William Blount’s two golfers finished with a combined score of 102.
Etherton couldn’t help but laugh when asked what was special about his performance Tuesday.
“I finally made a putt outside of two feet,” he said. “So yeah, that was nice.”
Etherton’s criticism of his game can be deceiving given his remarkable success for his age. He placed 10th in the TSSAA Large Class state tournament as a freshman and first in the Open Division of the Blount County Amateur over the summer.
His sights are set on winning a state title this year.
“He has been putting in the work — hours upon hours on the putting green,” Bradshaw said. “It came together for him so he’s happy. Usually, you don’t get that from Nick.”
Etherton said he has been struggling with his putting all season. On Monday, he spent six hours on the putting green then joined a teammate on the course. He made putts from 20 feet on the final two holes that practice round.
It was a confidence boost, but nothing like the 30-footer he made against Maryville and Catholic.
“’Here we go,’” Etherton said he thought to himself. “I’ve been looping it, coming over top of it, and that was terrible. Finally got it back on — straight back, straight through — and it started rolling the ball a lot better today. Then, it started going in.”
William Blount’s Zach Stout (40) also shot a personal best while Tyler Graves and Isaiah Jones each shot a 43.
Bradshaw said he realized his team looked poised for victory relatively early in the evening.
Etherton got the update from his coach on the fourth hole.
“He came up to me and said, ‘You’re 3-under and we’ve got guys at even, so just keep going,” Etherton said. “To finally see the hard work pay off, especially against Maryville, it just means more against them.”
Riley Orr (40) was Maryville’s top performer. Also a sophomore, Orr is considered to be the most experienced member on the team, which has four freshmen.
Orr said the Rebels putted well, but they struggled with their ball striking
“We need to get on the range and do better there,” Orr said. “You want to beat somebody at their best, and (the Governors) were definitely at their best today.”
Maryville’s other top golfers were Lukas Rhoades (45), Jake Davis (47) and Nick Talley (48).
Kennedy Noe (37) sparked Catholic’s girls to victory.
Bevin Harrill (41) led the Lady Rebels. Usual No. 1 golfer Ainsley Simms shot 44 after what Maryville coach Mike Driver called “an off day.”
Driver said Madison Atchley (44) and Parker Miller (45) are battling for Maryville’s No. 3 spot.
Anna Lewis (47) and Julia Kessler (55) competed for the Lady Governors.
“We need somebody, if Ainsley has a bad day, to come in and pick them up,” Driver said. “If you have four girls who can shoot 45 or below, that always helps you.”