Sipe, who earned second-team All-Horizon League honors as a senior at Wright State last season, knows he has some quality players on his tail, but he’s relishing the chance to fend them off.
“You’ve gotta love it,” he said. “From the start, you just enjoy the challenge.
“It’s just golf. Nothing really fazes me at all. It’s just a game.”
That’s what his golf instructor, Kevin Jones, sees as his greatest strength. Jones also works with Wells and believes his prized pupils both have intangibles that can’t be taught.
“Once you get to a certain point, the skill levels are about the same. What separates those guys is maturity level. I call it golf IQ,” he said.
Wells’ unflappable nature was on display after a wobbly start. He bogeyed two of the first four holes, but the SCC member recovered by making an eight-foot eagle putt on No. 5.
“I’ve played this course 100 times. Wherever I go, I’ll think, ‘Oh, I’ve been here before, and I can hit it here and be fine.’ I’ve felt really comfortable,” he said.
“I know it’s going to take a real low number, but it’s totally doable out here. It’s soft. The greens are fast but not unplayable. If I leave myself below the hole a lot tomorrow, and if I reach the par-5s, I feel I can make a lot of birdies and get back.”
Only one player as young as Wells has won the Ohio Am, which started in 1904. Wayne High School product Michael Bernard did it at 16 in 2010.
Unlike most contenders, Wells is playing without a caddie — a sign that he doesn’t need a steadying influence while he competes.
He’s also leading the Springfield City Am, which will conclude this weekend at Reid North.
“He’s mature beyond his years,” Jones said. “He’s very composed out there. He’s improved so much over the last year and a half. He swings it great. He’s a great ball-striker and a hard worker.”
Jeff Scohy of Bellbrook had a 69 for a 212 total and is tied for sixth. Clark Engle, who played at Shawnee and Ohio State, shot 71 and is tied for 11th.
The field was cut after the third round to the top 40 players. The leaders tee off today at 9:40 a.m.