DAYTON - Left-handed Chad Fosburg is one good round away from winning the Nevada State Amateur Golf Championship.
Despite some inconsistency off the tee, Fosburg still managed to shoot a 2-under par 70 Tuesday at Dayton Valley Country Club, and holds a three-shot lead over Galena graduate Matt Kinsinger entering today's final round which starts at 11:50 a.m.
Fosburg is at 6-under-par 138 after 36 holes. Kinsinger, who also fired a 2-under par 70, is alone in second place at 141. Aaron Slonim and Jeffrey Spillers are third at 1-under 143. Each shot an even-par 72 yesterday. There is a five-way tie at even-par 144, including Sparks grad Greg Wenzel (76-68) and Lowry grad Ryan Plummer (70-74).
Only nine golfers are at par (144) or better after two rounds, and only four golfers were under par on Tuesday. Wenzel shot a 4-under 68, the low score of the day. Fosburg, Kinsinger and Rod Butler, the Carson High golf coach, all shot 70s.
Fosburg, who attended Durango High in Las Vegas, believes it might take a 10-under par 206 to win the title. That means he'll need at the most a 68 or hope the rest of the field falls off a bit.
"There are a lot of good players out there," Fosburg said after his round. "My putter bailed me out today."
Indeed. Fosburg was a birdie machine, registering six birdies. On the downside, he did have four bogeys, and he blamed that mostly on approach shots.
He opened with a birdie, hitting a sand wedge to 10 feet and sinking the putt. A bad approach shot gave the stroke back on the 372-yard par-4 second hole. On the relatively easy 484-yard par-5 third, Fosburg hit a driver and 5-iron to 3 feet and drained the putt to get back to 1-under.
After four straight pars, Fosburg nearly eagled the 491-yard eighth hole, barely missing his 20-foot putt. He settled for a tap-in birdie from 3 feet to go 2-under. His iron play failed him on No. 9, the 380-yard par-4. He missed the green and was unable to get up and down to save par. He made birdie putts of 4, 15 and 15 feet on the 11th, 15th and 18th. Bad approach shots on No. 12 and 18 resulted in bogeys.
Kinsinger also had a strange round. He carded eagles on No. 3 and No. 11, but bogeys on the difficult par-3 16th and the long par-4 17th (451 yards) left somewhat of a sour taste in his mouth. He was, however, excited to be in the final group of the day and looked forward to playing with Fosburg for the first time.
On No. 3, Kinsinger hit a 5-iron to 4 feet. On No. 11, he was just short of the green in two and sank a 50-footer for the eagle. He was 4-under with three holes to play, but a three-putt bogey on the 230-yard par-3 16th and a bogey on No. 17 brought him back to 1-under.
"I'm happy with a 70," Kinsinger said. "I'm disappointed with my finish. When you get eagles like that, you need to take advantage of it.
"It would have been nice to be a little closer. I'm glad Chad (Fosburg) didn't shoot any lower. I've never played with him (same group). He hits it so far. He makes a lot of birdies. He's a strong putter. I have to be patient and hopefully roll in a few of my own."
The par-5 holes could make a difference. Both players are long off the tee, and Kinsinger said he will be trying to reach all the par-5s in two. He played the par-5s in 4-under par on Tuesday.
Slonim got off to a sizzling 4-under par start after the first four holes (par, birdie, eagle, birdie), but eventually came back to the field and settled for an even-par round.
Seth Cotter, who was expected to challenge Fosburg after an opening 69, followed up with a 77, and he is eight shots off the pace, and virtually out of the championship chase.
"I struggled out there," Cotter said. "I wasn't hitting my irons real well. The putts for pars and birdies that I had yesterday, lipped out today. If I'd come in even par, I figured it would have put me in the lead or a couple of shots out."
Cotter shot a 40 on the back nine, including a double-bogey on No. 12, a 395-yard par-4, when he hit his tee shot out of bounds.
Plummer trailed by only two shots after the first round, but his second-round 74 puts him six shots behind Fosburg, which is huge.
"I hit 15 greens," Plummer said. "It was the same thing I did yesterday. Pars were tough. It was pretty tough out there. "
The difference between Monday and Tuesday for Plummer was the disputed triple-bogey on the 378-yard par-4 10th.
Apparently there was a dispute between Plummer and his playing partners whether the ball went out or not. Plummer ended up playing two balls on the hole. On the original ball, he parred the hole. On the second ball, he took a 7. The original tee shot was marked as per USGA rules. A tournament official went out after the players finished their round and ruled the shot was indeed out of bounds.
"Without the triple, I'm 1-under," said Plummer, who did have a couple of birdies on the back nine. "I'd say 9-under will win it. I don't see much more than that. You have to pick your spots to go for it and stay patient (other times)."
It was also a rough day for Carson High's J.T. Cockerill, who struggled mightily and finished with an 80, putting him at 156 and well out of contention.
He had an up-and-down round, which included nine straight pars at one point (4 through 12), two birdies (1 and 15), a triple-bogey at No. 13, two double-bogeys and a bogey.
"I made a lot of good swings," Cockerill said. "I really made the bad swings count, however.
"I had a bad stretch about three weeks ago, but I'd been playing fairly well since. I made the turn at 1-over par, and the way I was hitting it, I thought I could get back to even par or 1-under. I made bad swings at the wrong time."
One guy who shot himself back into contention for a top-10 finish was Butler. He had birdies on 9 and 12, two bogeys and an eagle on No. 18 en route to his 70 and a 36-hole total of 148.
"It was a good round," Butler said. "I didn t make many putts (he had 34 putts for the round). I had at least six putts (from 10 feet) that didn't fall. It (the round) easily could have been a 68 or somewhere around there."
On No. 18, Butler hit a 7-iron to the shallow 18th green and drained the putt. He admitted that he was going for the pin, disdaining the safe shot to the middle.
Butler said he's hoping to finish at 4-over or better (220), which wouldn't be bad for a guy playing only his third competitive tourney of the season.
Notes: The net-division players start at 7 and the scratch golfers start at approximately 9:30 a.m. today ... Paul Johnson, a Southern Nevada player aced No. 6, a 163-yard par-3. The gracious Johnson offered to buy a drink for everybody in the clubhouse, including the two writers at the event. Johnson is at 146, eight shots off the lead.