Field tightens at PA Amateur
Nathan Smith of Brookville and Chip Lutz of Reading didn’t run away from the pack during the second round of the 89th Pennsylvania Amateur Golf Championship on Tuesday at Oakmont Country Club.
In fact, things have tightened significantly heading into today’s final round.
Smith, who shot a 4-under-par 67 on Monday, and Lutz, who had a 68 on Monday, struggled during the second round.
That allowed district players, such as John Jones of Lower Burrell, Arnie Cutrell of Greensburg and Sean Knapp of Oakmont to stay in contention for the title.
Smith, however, still leads the tournament after he shot a 4-over 75 yesterday for a two-round total of 142, which is even par. Lutz remained in second place with a 145, three strokes behind Smith. Lutz had a 6-over 77 in the second round.
Blaine Peffley of Lebanon, the Pennsylvania Junior champion, is in third place with a 146, four strokes off the lead. Peffley had his second consecutive 2-over 73.
Peter Toole, last year’s winner at Berkshire Country Club in Reading, shot his second consecutive 10-over 81 and missed the cut.
The field of 132 was trimmed to 42 for today’s final round, which begins at 8 a.m.
Smith and Lutz started slowly. They each began their rounds on the back nine, and each were 5 over at the turn.
“It was a round of survival,” Smith said. “Sometimes, that’s how it goes during a round. The course was brutal because of the length.”
Smith said he likes being in the final group. He will be paired with Lutz and Peffley for the final round.
“I can keep an eye on my closest competitors,” said Smith, who finished second last year. Smith shot a 74 during the final round and lost by two strokes to Toole, who shot a 64 during the final round.
Oakmont Country Club went under changes the past two years to get ready for the 2007 U.S. Open. Four new tees were built to add length to the course, and those tees were used during the second round.
“This course is a lot different,” said 1988 champion Don Erickson III of DuBois. “The seventh hole played extremely long.”
Erickson shot a 77 yesterday and finished with a 155. He missed the cut by one shot.
Jones wasn’t rooting for the leaders to have bad day, but he wasn’t complaining either.
“I felt it would be tough for them to duplicate their first round numbers,” Jones said. “If there was one player who could have done it, it’s Nathan. He’s due to win a tournament. He finished second in the Fuhrer (Invitational) and the West Penn (Amateur).
“The course was softer and played a lot longer. The greens were a lot slower than normal.”
Jones had two birdies and five bogeys during his round. The birdies came on Nos. 5 and 15, while the bogeys were on Nos. 1, 6, 7, 15 and 18.
“I hit the ball a lot better than I scored,” Jones said.
Knapp, who shot a 1-over 72 on Monday, had a 5-over 76 yesterday. Knapp had birdies on Nos. 5 and 9. But he also had seven bogeys, which is unusual for him.
“It was a frustrating day,” Knapp said. “I didn’t putt well. Nothing went in.”
Cutrell pulled himself back into contention with a 2-over 73, the low round of the morning session. That score put Cutrell at 7 over.
The best round of the day was by John Brennan of Springford, who shot an even-par 71.