Joe McCormick grabs Minnesota Mid-Amateur lead
Joe McCormick
Joe McCormick
ROCHESTER, Minn. — After shooting a 3-under par 69 to open the 28th Minnesota Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship in windy conditions at Somerby Golf Club Tuesday, Joe McCormick quietly slipped into the lead after 36 holes Wednesday, firing a 72 at Rochester Golf and Country Club.

Sammy Schmitz, who claimed back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, and Jeff Ferron trail McCormick by two shots entering Thursday’s final round as Schmitz followed his round of 73 during the opening round Tuesday with an even par 70 in Rochester Wednesday, while Ferron carded a second-round 69 at Somerby.

“The golf course played very hard today and I left some shots out there but, overall, I played pretty good,” McCormick said following his round Wednesday. “I’ve been playing well off the tee and I’ve been hitting my irons well.

“Tomorrow my plan is to keep it really simple and hit fairways and greens—it sounds cliché, but you need to do it [at Rochester Golf and Country Club]. If you can do that, you can get around the golf course."

McCormick, Crow River Golf Club, started fast Wednesday with a birdie after wedging his approach to six feet and rolling in his putt, moving to 4-under for the championship. He would make the turn at 2-over after carding three bogeys over his final six holes on the front nine.

Getting his putter working early on the back nine Wednesday, McCormick dropped back-to-back 30-foot birdie putts at the 11th and 12th holes to move to 3-under for the championship and would finish the second round with two bogeys over the final six holes to shoot 72, taking a two-stroke lead at 141.

“I got off to a good start but then I hit some sideways shots in the trees. If you get the wrong spots these greens are pretty fast. There are at least three or four holes where you can’t be above the hole on the green. That caused me to have a couple of three-putts,” McCormick said of his second round at Rochester.

“I made a couple long birdie putts but just kind of got it around and tried to stay out of trouble,” he said. “If the wind blows and if there’s rain, I think if you shoot around par tomorrow you’ll be good."

McCormick has eased back into competitive golf over the last three years, but has put together five top-20 finishes this season.

“I’m starting to play a lot better—I haven’t put it altogether yet, but it’s close. I was excited coming in and I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said.

Schmitz, Valleywood Golf Course, began the second round at Rochester Golf and Country Club and would make an early bogey at the par-3 fourth hole before sinking his birdie chance at the seventh. He would give a stroke back after a three-putt at the eighth and turn at 2-over for the championship.

Schmitz opened the back nine with a pair of early birdies at the 10th and 13th holes to get back to even for the tournament but fell back to 2-over after back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th after finding trouble off the tee.

Dropping his birdie chance on the final hole would put Schmitz into second place with after two rounds at 1-over par 143.

“Shooting even par in the wind is pretty good,” Schmitz said Wednesday. “I left some shots on the green so I had a chance to have a really good start. I was hitting the ball low and in control most of the day. I played the holes that were into the wind really well, which I thought was an advantage.

“I felt like when I played aggressive it paid off and some of the holes I made bogey on, I was trying to play safe. My ball striking has been pretty good and I think that’s been keeping me in it. I might try to play a couple holes differently but I need to stay aggressive and hit it in some smart spots.”

Ferron, Southview Country Club, opened the championship at Rochester Golf and Country Club with a 4-over par Tuesday and finished the second round tied with Schmitz 143 after firing a 3-under par 69 Wednesday at Somerby.

With three birdies on the front nine Wednesday, Ferron would turn at 1-over for the championship before drawing even with another birdie at the tenth.

A double-bogey at the 12th put Ferron back at 2-over for the tournament, but he would limit the damage with his fifth birdie of the day at the 13th.

Ferron would slip to 3-over after back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th, but he would make a strong finish with birdies on the final two holes Wednesday to finish in a tie with Schmitz at 143.

John Anderson, Bunker Hills Golf Club, will begin Thursday’s final round in third place at 145, four shots off the lead, while Jordan Hawkinson, Chisago Lakes Golf Course, sits in fourth place at 146 after 36 holes.

The 28th MGA Mid-Amateur Championship concludes Thursday as the final group is scheduled to tee off at 10 a.m. at Rochester Golf and Country Club.

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