Aubrey continues steady play in Fuhrer Invitational
John Aubrey knows what it takes to win a big golf tournament. He’s just not sure if his 53-year-old body can hold up for today’s final round of the Frank B. Fuhrer Invitational at The Longue Vue Club in Verona.
Aubrey stayed in contention for his second Fuhrer title by shooting an even-par 70 on Tuesday during the third round of the 72-hole event. Aubrey is in second place with a three-round total of 4-under-par 206, two shots behind Nemacolin Woodland Woodlands Resort assistant Kevin Shields, who is at 6-under 204.
Shields seized the lead when he scorched the 6,606-yard course with his second consecutive 5-under 65 yesterday. He was only one of two golfers who broke par during the third round. The other was Oak Tree Country Club assistant Mike Ferry, who had a 2-under 68.
Oakmont Country Club pro Bob Ford, Tygart Lake (W.Va.) pro Brad Westfall and amateur Nathan Smith of Brookville were tied for third place at 1-under 209. Amateur Sean Knapp of Oakmont and Allegheny Country Club pro John Aber were tied for sixth place at 1-over 211.
Aubrey said he is pleased to be in position to win the tournament he won in 1994, especially at his age.
“It would pretty good to be a senior (player) and win something against the young guys,” Aubrey said. “I can’t hit it as far as they can.”
Aubrey relies on the strength of his game to stay in contention. He keeps the ball in play and then depends on his strong play around the green.
“I’m trying to make this game fun,” he said. “I can’t wait to get to the golf course. I don’t let things bother me.”
Aubrey said that staying patient will be the key against Shields and the rest of the field.
“You can’t be too offensive,” Aubrey said. “The course is great, and the greens are good. It’s all knowledge on this course. You can’t get the ball past the hole. If you do, you’d better make a good putt.
“I’ve putted well the last three days for me. I only missed one little in three days, and that’s good for me.”
Aubrey missed a one-foot putt for par on No. 13. The ball slid off the left edge and ended up three feet below the hole. He knows those short misses can spoil a great round.
Aubrey said he’s eager to match off with Shields, even though he’ll be at a slight disadvantage.
“Kevin is a good player,” Aubrey said. “It’s going to be fun playing. He drives the ball well. He’s young, strong and has no fear. I’m old. My nervous aren’t as good, and I’m not as strong.”
On a day when the average score was 74.64 for the field of 46, Shields brought the old course, which was built in 1920, to its knees.
“That was a spectacular round by Kevin. (PGA) Tour-like,” Knapp said.
Shields’ round wasn’t flawless. He did have a bogey in No. 6. But he countered that one bad hole with six birdies and a 30-foot putt for par on No. 17. His birdies were on Nos. 2, 4, 8, 10, 11 and 13.
“This was the best 36 holes I’ve ever played,” Shields said. “I hit 34 of my last 36 greens. That’s important. I’d rather not be chipping at some of these pin placements.”
The two early birdies gave Shields the confidence for another solid round. Then he started rolling his putt in on the back nine. He finished the round with 29 putts, 12 on the back nine.
Shields likes to be in the top position of the tournament. He likes it that players will be chasing him.
“I want to win this tournament,” he said. “The $20,000 purse would be a lifestyle chance for me. I just purchased a house, and my wife and I are expecting our first child in January.
“I don’t want to finish second again. That’s why I’m going to attack the course and not sit back. This is a tournament I want to win in a big way.”
Smith, who was the leader after the first day, had his problems with the whirling winds. He shot a 4-over par 74, but he was able to get back 1-under with a late flurry.
Ford and Westfall, who were paired together, also had their problems with the wind. Ford shot an even-par 70, while Westfall had a 2-over 72.
Aber, who was tied for second place, had a tough day. He finished with a 5-over 75, while Knapp had a 4-over 74.
“This course is tough,” Smith said. “I expected it will be a lot tougher for the final round. I’m eager to see the final scores. Anything can happen.”