Mike McCoy (Golfweek photo)
will take a nine-shot lead into the final round of the British Senior Amateur Championship after a third-round 69 left the 2023 Walker Cup captain at 5-under 205 for 54 holes at Royal Dornoch Golf Club.
The 59-year-old and fellow American Don Whitmore were the only two players to shoot under par. Whitmore began the day tied for 37th, but begins the final round in joint fourth place.
McCoy was fortuitous over the opening two rounds, escaping scorecard wrecking winds thanks to a favorable draw. He finally faced the gusts off the Dornoch Firth in round three, yet the 2013 US Mid-Amateur champion reveled in the conditions.
Off at 4.46pm with Scotland’s Robert Jenkins
and Warren Bladon
from England, the only three to start the third round under par, Royal Dornoch played downwind for the first eight holes. However, while fellow overnight leader Jenkins was three-over and Bladon four-over on those holes, McCoy was one-under and in command. He opened with a birdie, and added two more along with two bogeys. He made three birdies on the last ten holes along with a double-bogey at the 11th and a bogey at the 14th.
“It was very tough out there today,” said McCoy, who is nine strokes clear of Jenkins and ten ahead of Irishman Jody Fanagan in third place. “Going out downwind was just as tough as playing the back nine into the wind. These courses play just as hard downwind as into the wind.
“We faced a lot of delicate shots where you’re just trying to land the ball to a spot and not run it through the green.
“Then when we got into a crosswind that’s blowing 20-30 mph you’re just trying not to overcook it and let the wind carry it away."
The strength of the wind over the last ten holes forced McCoy to hit a shot he’s not used to playing.
“I three-putted the 11th after missing a short putt because of the wind,” he added. “That was really annoying because I’d just played one of the best shots off my life at 10, the par-3. I hit a punch 6-iron to two feet into a really strong gust. I can’t remember the last time I hit a 6-iron from 120 yards, but that’s how strong the wind was on the back nine.
“It took a little while to settle into the putting because the wind made it hard over the ball, especially on the short ones. Thankfully I’ve got a local caddie, Alexander McDonald. He’s a member of the club and knows the greens well. He’s been very helpful.”
McCoy’s approach to the third round should stand him in good stead as he tries to follow friend and Des Moines neighbor Gene Elliott as Senior Amateur champion. Elliott is tied for 34th on 13-over, 18 shots off the lead.
“I went out there today with the idea I was going to have a good attitude, just do the best I could and try not to get too down on myself. That attitude paid off and hopefully, it will tomorrow.”
ABOUT THE British Senior Amateur
The British Senior Amateur, called the "Seniors
Amateur Championship" in the United Kingdom,
was launched by The R&A in 1969 to help select
a Great Britain & Ireland side to play in the
World Senior Amateur Team Championship.
Though the British Senior Amateur, played for the
first time at Formby, was an instant success, the
team event did not survive beyond 1969. Charlie
Green has been the most successful player in
the history of the event, winning six times in
seven years beginning in 1988. Like the U.S.
Senior Amateur, players must be over the age of
55 to play. Notable courses played over the
years include Royal County Down, Royal
Portrush, Royal Aberdeen, and Walton Heath.
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