BY KEITH CHARTRAND
DICKSON – Cameron Tankersley finished second at the 2021 Tennessee State Open Championship Thursday at GreyStone Golf Club. The 17-year-old Dickson native finished 18-under par, winning the tournament’s low amateur title.
“Playing in the last group on the last day and having all my friends out here, I loved every moment of it,” said Tankersley.
In a field of 144 golfers from all parts of Tennessee, having a hometown kid finish in second place is impressive.
GreyStone is Tankersley’s home course. He opened the three-day event Tuesday with eye-popping 62 to capture the first round lead. It was evident Tankersley would take advantage of knowing the nooks and crannies of Greystone and go into attack mode.
“He holes out…from 60 yards out on No. 5,” said Tray Register, Tankersley’s caddy. “That’s when I knew it was game on. He didn’t come to play around.”
The hole-out on No. 5 was one of two eagles on the front nine for Tankersley. Add to that seven birdies. It propelled him to the top of leaderboard after Day 1.
A round of 68 on Wednesday included birdies on holes No. 5, 9, 10, 12 and 17. Tankersley gave one back, posting a bogey on No. 11. He was in great position entering Thursday’s final round. Tankersley was one shot off the pace behind second round leader Nolan Ray, the tournament’s eventual winner.
Ray took control of the tournament on the back Thursday. Ray and Tankersley were tied after 10 holes. Tankersley posted a bogey on the par-3 11th. Ray nearly holed-out for eagle on 13. His birdie on 13th gave him a 2-shot cushion. Another bogey by Tankersely, this time on 14, followed by a birdie by Ray on No. 15, pushed Ray’s lead to four shots. Ray finished at 21-under par, three shots ahead of Tankersley.
“Everything about (Ray’s) game today was solid as can be,” said Will Brewer, Lipscomb University’s head coach who was walking the course with the final group. “His short game was really solid.”
Ray, a Brentwood native, also won the 2019 State Amateur Championship.
Ray played collegiate golf at both University of Tennessee and Lipscomb University. Ray’s competed against stiff competition. Tankersley was no different.
“Impressive-that would be the word I would use to describe Cam,” said Ray. “As a 17-year old, he acts like a professional; he handles himself like a professional. He’s steady, level-headed. You don’t see that in 17-year olds.”
Two years ago Tankersley finished 32nd in Tennessee State Open Championship. He attributes his biggest improvement since then to one thing.
“I’ve matured a lot,” said Tankersley. “My mental game and keeping my calm has re
ally improved this year. I’m gonna make some bad shots but if you look at the bright side you’re going to play good golf.”
Summers are usually a time when high-schoolers get a break. Tankersley’s got a busy schedule ahead of him: seven tournament before his senior year begins. For an aspiring golfer, it is just what Tankersley wants.