Josh Sine walked off the Snyder Park golf course Saturday with a one-shot lead in the Springfield Men’s City Amateur. And his mind was on one thing.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said. “I just need some putts to drop.”
Sine shot a 70 for his third round under par that has him 8-under for the tournament, but a few putts under 10 feet that didn’t fall helped make this a three-man race. Chip Knuckey shot his second straight 68 to trail by one. Zach Fowler, who shared the first-round lead, rebounded from a rough second round with a 68 to trail by three.
The three will play together today. Sine has won the tournament seven times, including last year. Knuckey won in 2007. Fowler is going for his first title after being stripped of his victory in 2008 when he was later deemed to be a professional.
Fowler said a website advertised him as a pro. “It was a letter of the law kind of thing,” he said. After being declared a pro, Fowler went to Florida and played a few mini-tour events in late 2008. He said he never intended to make a career of golf, so he waited and the USGA reinstated him as an amateur in April.
“I love to play golf,” Fowler said. “And I just thank God that he’s given me the ability and the opportunity to come back and play more.”
Fowler followed his first-round 67 last weekend with a 76 when two got the best of him. Saturday’s round has made him confident entering today’s final round.
“Josh is a great player,” Fowler said. “He’s not going to come back, but I feel very confident that I can do what it takes. I view it as an opportunity. Not a potential to succumb to pressure, but an opportunity to rise above and do what I know I can do.”
Saturday’s play was interrupted twice by weather. Play resumed for the final time at 5:45.
“With the rain off and on it was hard to keep momentum,” Knuckey said. “It was kind of slow out there, but I kept with it and made a lot of putts.”
Knuckey had six birdies and two bogeys. He birdied Nos. 15 and 16 before his second shot on 17 landed in the sand and stuck him with a bogey. The same thing almost happened on 18, but a chip from the edge of the bunker allowed him to make par. He had little green to work with and it took a deft touch to keep the ball from rolling far past the hole.
“That was magical right there,” Knuckey said. “I was just trying to get it on the green somehow.”
Knuckey said he won’t stress about today.
“This is what golf’s about – being right here,” he said.
Sine’s second 70 sandwiched around a 68 kept him in the lead even if it seemed like every other putt was either too long or too short.
“I really hit it pretty good,” he said. “I just didn’t make anything on the greens. I’m looking ready for tomorrow. I could’ve gotten a little bit more out of it today than I did.”
He had two 3-putts, but only one bogey.
“I just never had the speed,” he said. “It wasn’t the greens. The greens I thought were good.”
This was Knuckey and Sine’s first time playing together. Fowler said he has never played with either.
“It’s been three days of getting in position,” Fowler said. “And now I’m in position and it’s time to go do it.”