RICHMOND –– Northern Virginia-based PGA professional Bud Lintelman, 52, of Purcellville shot 3-under-par 67 and headlines a crowded leader board entering Friday’s final round of the 7th Senior of Open of Virginia being conducted at The Country Club of Virginia’s Westhampton Course.

Lintelman, the PGA director of instruction at Westpark Golf Club in Leesburg, is a stroke ahead of amateur and longtime CCV member Jack Catlett of Richmond (2-under 68) as well as professional Robert Affelder (Berlin, Md.), the PGA professional at The Original Golf School at The Bay Club. Hampton’s Tim Lewis, the PGA teaching professional at Kempsville Greens Golf Course, and amateurs Dave Pulk (Williamsburg) and Col. James Gallagher (Ret.) of Yorktown each returned 1-under 69 and completed the six rounds in red numbers.

Altogether, eight competitors are within three strokes of the lead entering the final round and 11 are four shots back.

Despite measuring less than 6,100 yards, CCV Westhampton’s demands precise placement of shots at nearly every turn, especially on its undulating putting surfaces. Lintelman played right to the script on day one, accounting for four birdies against a bogey; he finished birdie-birdie en route to posting shooting three under on the inward half.

“I hope I can keep that birdie run going [Friday],” Lintelman said with a laugh.

A sound putting round and stellar ball-striking stoked Lintelman to the top of the leader board.

“I didn’t hit any wild shots,” he said. “I putted consistently because the greens are vicious. I missed one putt inside 10 feet – I made a lot of putts inside 10 feet that kept the momentum going. For the most part, I didn’t make any big errors. The greens have so much slope in them that a putt can get away from you really easily.”

Lintelman has been re-energized by a renewed mental approach that has admittedly allowed him to free up his motion and mindset rather than putting undue pressure on each and every shot. In turn, he’s enjoyed a strong season, winning the MAPGA Central Chapter Senior Championship and reaching the final of the MAPGA Match Play Championship (he’ll play in the deciding encounter on Sunday).

“I’m trying to enjoy it more,” Lintelman said. “My emotions were worn pretty heavily on my sleeve, but now I’m trying to stay more even-keeled, which has helped me.”

An up and down round for Catlett saw him pitch in for an eagle-3 at the par-5 fourth hole and he finished his outward half by making three consecutive 3s en route to firing a front nine 3-under 31. The second nine was a roller coaster and included three birdies and four bogeys over a span of seven holes. Catlett didn’t make his first par on the back nine until No. 17, but negotiated the greens throughout the round, using less than 30 putts.

“I made more putts than I know how to make,” Catlett said. “It was unbelievable. I relaxed and wasn’t too worried about what I was going to shoot.”

Affelder registered four birdies and was bogey-free on the second nine, shooting 2-under 34 over the final nine holes. Playing in the third-to-last grouping in the first round, with his finish, Affelder will be in the final group of four on the final day with Lintelman, Catlett and Lewis.

A transplanted Ohioan, Pulk moved to Virginia last December but it hasn’t taken him long to get comfortable. His fairly clean first round, which included three birdies, signals a continuation of his shining play over the past month. Pulk was the medalist at the VSGA Senior Amateur in late August. Earlier this month, he qualified for the USGA Senior Amateur Championship and was medalist in the Senior Open of Virginia qualifier at The Club at Viniterra.

“I haven’t played a lot, but I’ve played enough to keep my game in good shape,” Pulk said. “We’ll see how it goes [Friday] – there’s a lot of trouble out there. I need to drive the ball well, hit greens and make a few putts.”

Lewis birdied two of the final three holes, while Gallagher’s round was highlighted by making an eagle at the fourth hole from 10 inches.

“I’m still cautious on the greens – they are the golf course’s defense,” Gallagher said.

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