Sheppard goes low, builds 4-shot Illinois Senior lead
Tim Sheppard (CDGA photo)
Tim Sheppard (CDGA photo)

NORTH RIVERSIDE, Ill. (Sept. 13, 2018) - With a difficult course facing Illinois State Senior Amateur players once again, East Peoria’s Tim Sheppard was able to maneuver Riverside’s tight track and slick greens en route to firing a 1-under 70 in Thursday’s second round at Riverside Golf Club. With one round to play, Sheppard leads by four strokes over Ted Pecora at 6 over and defending champion Tom Kearfott at 7 over.

“I put myself in position,” said Sheppard, who carded a 3-over 74 on Wednesday. “I missed three greens today and made three bogeys. My other bogey was a three-putt. Hitting the ball in the air like I do and my distance are definitely a plus. If I’m hitting the ball solid, it plays to my strengths.”

Sheppard began his round on Riverside’s back nine with two birdies in three holes before a bogey on the par-3 13th. He was able to add two straight birdies, on Nos. 15 and 16, before another bogey on No. 17 put him 2 under at the turn. A birdie on the par-4 sixth, sandwiched between bogeys on Nos. 5 and 7, saw Sheppard finish with the lone sub-par round of the day.

“These greens make you pay attention,” said Sheppard, who made match play in the U.S. Senior Amateur last month. “If you have a 15-footer, you’re saying ‘alright, how do I want to hit this?’ You don’t want to make a living making 4- or 5-footers.”

Pecora, the runner-up in the CDGA Senior Amateur Championship earlier this summer, was able to overcome a slow start on Riverside’s back nine that featured three straight bogeys on Nos. 11-13. He played his back nine in 2 under to right the ship and finish with a 1-over 72, positioning himself within striking distance come Friday.

“I never really missed a fairway or green,” said Pecora, who beat Sheppard in the CDGA Senior Am, 2 and 1. “My strength is hitting it straight off the tee. I don’t hit it long but I hit it straight. My iron play is good and I have a pretty good putting stroke for these greens.”

The defending champion Kearfott was able to best his opening-round 75 by one stroke, shooting a 3-over 74. His lone birdie on the day came on No, 8, a 401-yard par 4. Kearfott, who partnered with Sheppard to win the 2016 CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Crystal Tree Golf & Country Club, was able to manage his pace on the greens and control his driver off the tee.

“I can work the ball left and right, which helps off the tee,” Kearfott said. “There’s some holes you have to hook it, there’s some holes you have to fade it. I haven’t three-putted yet.”

Dale Blankenship and Daniel Moran earned co-low super senior champion (65 and older) honors on Thursday, both wrapping up the second round with a score of 155, after each shot rounds of 79 and 76.

Thirty-eight players made the cut, with tee times for Friday’s final round beginning at 8 a.m. The trio of Sheppard, Pecora and Kearfott tees off at 9:48 a.m.

ABOUT THE Illinois Senior Amateur

Open to senior amateurs who are residents of the state of Illinois. A 54-hole event with the entire field playing 36 holes over the course of two days and the low 30 and ties play the final 18 on the third day.

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