Alex Smalley was steady in round three at Sunnehanna CC
JOHNSTOWN, PA (June 15, 2018) — There will be no shortage of work tomorrow for those chasing Alex Smalley
this weekend at Sunnehanna Country Club, who after firing a modest 69 this afternoon, leads the field by four shots.
From the gate, The Duke standout was steady as a rock, making pars on his first seven holes, highlighted with two very impressive up and downs.
“Missed the green on No. 5 in a bad place and was able to make a par,” said Smalley of his round. “Really messed up number six — probably had about forty yards long left, hit a really good chip to about ten feet and made that one as well so those were two huge pars to ease into the round.”
It would only be a matter of time until it was back to red numbers for the North Carolinian, who finished the side with birdies on 8 and 9, and adding one more on the 11th. Smalley stumbled a bit on 12, making a double-bogey, but quickly steadied the ship for the remainder of his round, keeping his score at 11-under-par through the end. As for tomorrow's plan? Smalley hopes for more of the same.
“Just trying to hit greens,” he explains, “and put myself in good spots because the greens are really slippery and they’ve put the pins in some really crazy spots, so knowing where the pin is before you hit your tee shot and approach shot is pretty key. You don't want to get yourself above the hole, because having a putt downhill is very treacherous.”
If he looked comfortable on the course today, it might have been because he was playing with longtime friend and rival Stephen Franken
“From my experience, we like to beat each other, but I have some work to do. He’s been playing really good,” said Franken, who plays his collegiate golf at NC State. The two noted that they have played together over fifty times since they were twelve, with Franken holing on the 18th hole out to win their initial bout. His even-par 70 wouldn’t be enough to win the gentlemen’s bet today though, falling short of his buddy by one shot.
Rounding out their group was Dalton State’s S.M. Lee
, who looked as if he might be able to eclipse the leader early on, starting off hot with two birdies in his first three holes. Unfortunately, Lee short-sided himself in a green side bunker on the par-3 7th hole and was not able to make par, carding his first bogey of the day. He followed up with a costly double on the very tough 8th and never really recovered. Lee currently sits in a tie for sixth place, with USC golfer Justin Suh
Smalley’s closest chaser after 54 holes is University of Kentucky junior Cooper Musselman
, who is four shots back with a 54 hole score of 7-under-par. Musselman, who shot the round of the day at 5-under 65, went out in a 1-under-par front nine. After pars on 10 and 11, the Kentucky golfer ignited, making a birdie on 12, then followed up with a great birdie on the 15th with a slippery right to left breaking 12-footer at the 600-yard par five. Most memorable to Musselman, however, was his birdie on the par-4 17th.
“I hit a pretty good drive and left myself about 140-yards. From there I was able to get the ball on the right side of the green and it trickled down to about four feet.”
After knocking in the four-footer, he made sure to do whatever he could to give himself a chance tomorrow, rolling in a final birdie on 18.
“I birdied three of my last four holes. That gives me a good feeling going into tomorrow,” offered Musselman. “It’s going to be tough to catch him (Smalley) but we’ll put have some pressure on him and hopefully I can start making some birdies early on.”
ABOUT THE Sunnehanna Amateur
The Sunnehanna Amateur was inaugurated in
1954 -- it was the first country club
sponsored 72-hole stroke play competition for
in the United States. The
tournament is played on a classic A.W.
design. Only one other amateur
tournament in the United States can list the
Chick Evans, Arnold Palmer, Julius
Boros, Art Wall, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson,
Woods, and Rickie Fowler as
contestants: the United States Amateur. Its
format has been emulated by
countless amateur tournaments across the
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