story by Bob Thomas, for Pacific Coast G.A.
TUCSON, ARIZ., (July 29) — At the halfway point of the 43rd Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, Zack Sucher of Mobile, Ala., a man on a mission, backed up yesterday’s course-record at The Gallery Golf Club’s South Course with a 5-under-par 67 today to take a one-shot lead over co-first-round leader Eric Mina of Fremont, Calif.
The 22-year-old Sucher, who is playing nearly every week this summer hoping to make the United States Walker Cup team, is at 132, 12 under par, for two rounds. He had four birdies and an eagle today en route to his 67. Mina had five birdies and a bogey today.
Chan Kim of Chandler, Ariz, is in third place at 136, four shots behind Sucher. He’s a shot in front of Richard Lee of Bellevue, Wash. and Travis Woolf of Ft. Worth, Tex., who shot 68 today despite making nine birdies.
Sucher, who finished his eligibility at UAB this spring, plays most of his golf on the east coast and in the south, but entered the Pacific Coast Amateur in hopes of making the U.S. Walker Cup squad that will compete against a Great Britain and Ireland team Sept. 12-23 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Penn.
He was 2 under par through 15 holes today but went birdie-eagle on the par-three 16th and par-five 17th hole. On the 601-yard 17th hole, Sucher hit driver into the left rough, then spanked a three-wood to within three feet of the hole and sank the putt. He finished by making par 4 on the 18th hole after hitting his drive into a fairway bunker.
Sucher could have posted consecutive 65s but he made bogey on the 616-yard, par-5 fifth hole (his only over-par score of the tournament). “I was 270 yards from the hole in the middle of the fairway on five,” he said with a grin afterwards, “but I hit in a greenside bunker, skulled it out and eventually made 6. Except for that hole, I played about as well today as I did yesterday; in fact, I hit my iron shots better today.”
The 20-year-old Mina, a rising junior at University of California at Berkeley, was in the final group today and was satisfied with his 68. “The wind really kicked up in the afternoon,” said Mina after his round, “and being in the last group the greens weren’t as pure as they were yesterday.”
Mina pointed to his only bogey (on the 449-yard fourth hole, his 13th) as a turning point today, but for the positive. “I hit in the desert and ended up making a 20-footer for bogey,” said Mina, “which helped keep my round on track.” A birdie 3 late in the round hole got Mina to within a shot of the lead.
“My goal tomorrow is just to play smart and roll my rock,” said Mina. “I need to take advantage of those times when I have a short approach shot or a short putt,” said Mina.
In the annual Morse Cup Team Competition, Washington State Golf Association rallied from five shots off the pace and successfully defended its title with a one-shot victory over the Pacific Northwest GA. With the best two of three individual scores counting in each of the first two rounds, WSGA shot 141-139 — 280.
The PNGA appeared to have the title in the bag until Cameron Peck made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the finishing hole, an adventure that included two unplayable lies, hitting a sprinkler box (with the ball ending up behind him) and leaving a 30-foot putt hanging on the lip. First-round leader British Columbia GA slipped to a 153 today and finished tied for 10th.