You’ll notice the difference immediately between the first two days and Friday. My being at the course hopefully makes this installment a bit more enlightening. To begin, let’s talk about the unheralded Richy Werenski. Other than this young man, the only golf news that I know of in South Hadley is The Orchards, a Donald Ross course that once hosted the USGA Women’s Open.
If he continues to play on Saturday with the poise and strength of days one through three, it will take a superhuman effort to pry the green jacket and Porter Cup from Werenski’s fingers. Here’s a photo of his tee shot on Friday on 18.
Four behind Werenski is Justin Thomas, a heralded player from the University of Alabama. Thomas was tabbed as one of two pre-tournament favorites by local publications. It will be interesting to see if his 54th-hole birdie on Friday will spur him on to victory. Less known is the great escape he made on the penultimate hole during Friday’s third round. Forced to punch out to the fairway, he played a twenty-five yard pitch to within a foot to save par on the treacherous 17th. Here is that pitch shot.
Another player with victory on his mind and the experience to make it happen is defending-champion Patrick Rodgers. The Stanford sophomore will need an early hot streak to get back in the mix, as he finds himself five down to Werenski, the third-round leader. Here is Rodgers nearly holing a birdie pitch on 18 (his ball is in the air; Werenski’s recovery from sand is on the green.)
Also lurking are Scott Harvey, runner-up in last week’s Carolinas Amateur (seen here teeing off on 17) and Tyler McCumber. Harvey posted the second-low round of the day on Friday, a six-under par 64.
Not to be outdone, McCumber (teeing off on 17) balanced four birdies with three bogies to remain in the hunt.