Chris Wheeler looks to go wire-to-wire in Lupton (TGA photo)
Chris Wheeler will have another night to sleep on the lead at the John T. Lupton Memorial Invitational.
After an opening round 66, the Addison, Texas resident turned in an even-par round of 72 on Saturday and saw his three-shot lead shrink down to one after Sam Jackson (West Columbia, S.C.) shot the low round of the day with a 3-under 69 to get to 5-under par.
Over the course of Wheeler's round, Wheeler had four birdies and as many bogeys. He capped off his round with a bounce-back birdie on his final hole of the day to get back to 6-under par.
"Today required a bit more patience," said Wheeler. "The course was certainly longer and playing later in the day meant we saw some wind and drier greens. I was happy that I still had good control of the ball but the putts didn’t fall quite like yesterday.
"I'm obviously happy with where I’m at and really looking forward to an exciting finish in a gorgeous setting tomorrow."
Jackson went out in 33 and then birdied hole Nos. 11, 13, and 17. His only bogey was on the seventh hole and wiped that out quickly with a two on the eighth.
The birdie on the eighth was a rare feat on Saturday. They pushed back seven tee boxes for the second round. Four holes at Honors Club played about half a stroke over par. Three of those holes were par 3’s: holes Nos. 3, 8, and 16. They were playing about twenty yards longer than yesterday.
Two-time Lupton champion Joe Deraney was the only player other than Wheeler who reached 6-under par on Saturday. After an opening bogey on his first hole (10th) of the day, Deraney birdied six of the next 10 holes. Three straight bogeys on hole Nos. 3, 4 and 5 and a final one on the eighth hole (his 17th) poured a little water on the round.
Wheeler (-6), Jackson (-5), Mark Harrrel (-3), and Deraney (-2) are the only players under par on a course that saw a bit of overnight rain, but it still played firm and fast to challenge the strong field.
Among the top four, three of them are recent state mid-am champs. Joe Deraney has won the last three Mississippi Mid-Ams. His resume is full of impressive victories, and a third Lupton would be quite the pelt. In April, Sam Jackson won the Carolinas Mid-Am, and Wheeler won the 2019 and 2021 Texas Mid-Am.
In the senior division, leader Bob Royak shot 72. Much like Wheeler's round, Royak made four birdies but couldn't avoid dropped shots and therefore, couldn't extend his lead. Doug Hanzel and Jack Larkin each shot 71 to pull one shot closer to Royak. Hanzel and Royak were the only senior players under par on the day.
The final round will likely be a battle of Georgians, as the three legends have separated themselves from the pack.
ABOUT THE Lupton Memorial Invitational
This event, named after club founder John T.
debuted in 2005 on a spectacular Pete Dye
near Chatanooga. Mitch Voges won the 1991
Amateur here, and Tiger Woods won the
Championship here despite a final round 80.
individual event with a 36 hole cut. Stroke
for the Championship division and Stableford
for the Senior division. Committee will invite
ams and 54 senior ams. The field will be cut to
approximately 75% in each division following the
View Complete Tournament Information