Back-to-back scores of 1-under par 69 have Zabe Shores of Pinehurst, N.C., in the lead going into Tuesday’s final round of the 11-12 age division of the Press Thornton Future Masters.
Just on his heels are Miles Russell of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., and Nicholas Canitano of Milton, Ga., who both shot 3-under-par 67s and are just a stroke back following two-round totals of 139.
Also still very much in the mix is John John Santospago of Charlotte, N.C., (70-71—141), Arjun Somani of Scottsdale, Ariz., (74-68—142) and Hudson Hatch of Charleston, S.C., (72-70—142).
After the first round, Shores was tied with Graden Lomax of China Grove, N.C., and Sohan Patel of Weston, Fla., as the only three to shoot under par in the opening round. Shores now hold the lead for himself after Lomax had a second round 76 and Patel a second round 75 to fall off the pace.
It certainly wasn’t a good start for Shores. Starting on the back nine, he had a double-bogey on his first hole, but then rebounded with four straight pars and then a birdie on No. 15.
“The greens were a lot faster today,” Shores said. “I would imagine they rolled them a couple of times. The first hole I had like a 15-footer for birdie and I walked off with double-bogey, so that was hard.”
Shores finished his back nine strong with birdies on 5 and 7.
“On 5, I hit 8-iron to about 20 feet above the hole and made that one,” Shores said. “On 7, I hit driver and I had either a 9-iron or 8-iron, I can’t remember, and I hit to about 30 feet and them made that.”
Shores hopes another solid round will have him where he needs to be at the end of the day.
“I’m going to do the same thing,” Shores said of the final-round mindset. “I’m playing good. I’m not really going to focus on it being the final round or anything – just another round of golf and just having fun and not really focusing on the past. You can’t do anything about that. I reset pretty well.”
For Russell, a hole-in-one on Sunday was his highlight during a round of 72, but he bettered that on Monday with the 3-under to rank among the leaders.
The 12-year-old from Jacksonville Beach, Fla., made the turn at 2-under with birdies on Nos. 4, 7 and 9, along with a bogey on 6.
“I made probably about an 8-foot birdie putt on 4,” Russell said. “On 7, I made probably like a 25-footer up the hill. On 9, I just made a little 5-footer down the hill.”
He kept up the good play on the back nine with birdies on 11 – where he had a hole-in-one on Sunday – along with 12 and 15. Bogeys came on 13 and 17.
Russell believes the course suits his game.
“If you just keep the ball in the fairway and don’t make any mistakes, you’ll do pretty good,” said Russell, who is playing in the tournament for the third time. “I like fast greens and firm greens. It’s a tight golf course and I play pretty well on it. Just keep doing the same thing and hope it gets even better.”
Canitano said solid putting led to his 67 after an opening round 72.
“When I got in trouble, I really got my stroking going and my putts started just falling in the hole,” Canitano said. “A few lip outs today, but all close and no 3-putts.”
He felt more comfortable on the course Monday and it showed.
“I think I felt more relaxed on the second day without having those butterflies in my stomach,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep going and focusing on my game. I can’t control anybody else. I can only control what I do and my emotions.”
Somani improved from a first round 74 to a second day 68 in making a charge. It’s the first year the 11-year-old has played in the tournament.
“Today I felt like my drives were much better,” Somani said of the second round. “On this course, I’ve noticed that if you hit your drives bad, your round is going to be really tough.
“Yesterday could have been much worse than the 74. I worked on my drives after the round yesterday and today my drives were better and then it sets up some approach shots that are easier to hit.”
He had birdies on holes 1, 4, 18 and 15 along with two bogeys.
“I knocked a few close and made a couple of putts,” Somani said. “My putting felt good today; no 3-putts at all. I had a few long putts outside of 20 feet.
“Today I just hit fairways, greens and made putts. I wasn’t trying to play too aggressive for birdies. I was just trying to make pars.”
Davis Wotnosky of Wake Forest, N.C., also fired a 68 after a first round 75.
“Today I putted a lot better,” Wotnosky said. “I really got the pace down. These greens are super-fast. I had a couple of three putts yesterday that really killed me. I just played more consistently today, just trying to hit fairways and greens.”
Wotnosky, who started on the back nine, finished strong.
“I had a double (bogey) on No. 3, but that was my only under par hole,” he said. “I was able to steady the ship a bit and make some pars. I lipped out for eagle on No. 8 and tapped in for birdie and two-putted for par on 9 to finish off nicely.”
Christian Koehn of Winter Park, Fla., followed up a disappointing 76 in the first round to a 69 on the second day despite some rough patches.
“There was a tough pin on par 3 (No. 13) and I made double (bogey),” Koehn said of his final nine. “On the next hole I chipped in for birdie and that kind of turned things around. I parred in from there.
“It was something that was unexpected today, but in the back of my mind, I knew I could do it. I got frustrated on a couple of holes because I knew most people would be making better scores than me, but I really made sure I was going to turn those around and play well.”
For complete scores of Monday’s round and Tuesday’s tee times for the 11-12 division, go to www.futuremastersgolf.com