Tanner Nelson has big goals for his senior season with the Lenoir City High School golf team.
"I hope to take out district, region and state — to win all three of those," Nelson said. "I'm very confident that I'll be able to play good in all the high school tournaments because of all the momentum I'm carrying in."
The bulk of that momentum comes on the heels of a Tennessee Golf Association Junior Tour win on Tuesday at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville. Nelson shot a 70 on the first day and a 71 on the second to edge out Farragut's Connor McKay.
"I feel like I played well," Nelson said. "I hit lots of fairways and greens, and that's what kept me in. I made quite a few birdies the whole tournament."
Nelson shot 10 birdies, none more important than the last. Having birdied the hole 18 in round one, Nelson knew doing the same on day two would secure his win.
"I was very confident that I could birdie it to win," he said. "I was just over the green. It was an uphill pitch, a shot that I had hit 100 times. I was able to pitch it in for birdie."
The win came after a third-place finish at Oak Ridge Country Club the week before, in which he shot a first round 77 and second round 69.
The offseason competition is key, Nelson said, in getting ready for his senior campaign.
"I think it's very key in taking momentum into the golf season," he said. "It keeps you in good competition and all that stuff."
Lenoir City golf coach Adrian Pearce feels the golfer can make quite a run this season.
"He is a great kid that works every day at being the best person and golfer that he can be," he said. "Tanner has improved every year and is ready to make a strong run at state this year."
Nelson has been playing the sport since he was 4 years old.
"Dad got me started with it, and I just kept playing it because I love it," he said. "It's very important to me. It means a lot."
He now puts in several hours each week to improve his game. "I look back at my weaknesses in past tournaments, and I go to the driving range and golf courses and try to get better in those categories," Nelson added. "I would say I probably play three times a week, and I practice almost every day."
In addition to aiming for a state title, Nelson is also hoping to golf his way onto a college team.
"I'd like to play in college somewhere, probably a Division I or Division II college," he said. "I've sent resumes to all of them and stuff."
The only senior on the boys team, Nelson said he feels it is important to set a good example for his teammates with performance, work ethic and golf etiquette.
"I am proud to have Tanner as the leader of our boys golf team," Pearce said.
Lenoir City's golf season begins July 26 at Avalon Golf & Country Club with a match against Grace Christian Academy and Halls High School.