Red-hot Campbell clings to two-shot lead at State Am

mfields@herald-leader.com,By MeJune 18, 2014 

  • STATE AMATEUR

    At Cherry Blossom Golf & Country Club in Georgetown

    Thursday: Final round, 8 a.m.

    Leaders

    Tom Campbell -10

    Denver Haddix Jr. -8

    Joe Deraney -6

    Brad Faulkner -6

    Chris Gilles -6

    Billy Tom Sargent -6

    Trey Shirley -6

    Complete scores and Thursday's tee times are on Page B2

GEORGETOWN — Tom Campbell says he is stressed out but you wouldn't know it by the way he's playing golf.

Campbell has posted back-to-back 5-under-par 67s and leads the 103rd State Amateur championship going into Thursday's final round at Cherry Blossom Golf & Country Club.

Campbell's 10-under total puts him two shots ahead of Denver Haddix Jr.

Joe Deraney, Brad Faulkner, Chris Gilles, Billy Tom Sargent and Trey Shirley are four shots off the lead.

Campbell said he is so distracted by life-changing events in his personal and professional life that he's finding refuge on the fairways.

"I hate to use the word 'easy' when it comes to golf, but I have all these other things going on that it's great to come out here and just play and compete.

"I'm not worried about winning. I have no idea what I'll do (Thursday). I may shoot a million, or I may play great. It doesn't matter. I'm just going to enjoy the opportunity."

Campbell, an assistant women's basketball coach at Centre College the last seven years, was hired as women's head coach at Sewanee, a Division III school in Tennessee, in late April. He starts his new job on July 1, but he still hasn't found a place to live.

Sewanee will be Campbell's first head coaching job in basketball. (He's been Centre's head golf coach the last two years.)

"It's bittersweet leaving Centre," he said. "I've made a lot of great friends, but I wanted to be a head coach. I'm 44, and the window closes a little as you get older."

Campbell's worries about relocating and adjusting to a new job haven't affected his golf the past two days.

After his 67 on Tuesday, he continued his torrid play Wednesday. He had seven birdies, starting at No. 4, in an eight-hole stretch.

When he stepped on the tee at the par-5 14th, he did what he hadn't done all day. He thought about his score.

"It creeped into my mind ... Gosh, I'm 7-under for the day, and I could get to 8- or 9-under," he said.

He promptly blocked his tee shot right and wound up taking a double bogey. He parred in for his 67.

Haddix, who shared the first-round lead with Campbell, followed his opening 67 with a solid 69.

Haddix, 33, loves it that he's in the hunt for the State Am title. "I work full time (in real-estate appraisal) for a living, and play golf once a week, so I'm stoked just to be in contention," he said.

Haddix won Lexington's city championship in 2001 — "Ages ago," he said — before turning pro a couple years later. He tore his rotator cuff while playing in the PGA Tour's qualifying school in 2009 and didn't play for a couple years. He has since regained his amateur status.

Earlier this year Haddix and Jason Cole won Lexington's two-man city title, so Haddix is excited about being in the competitive mix again.

"It's good to have those nerves. That's why you play. You want to be in position to win," he said. "That's why you put in all the sweat and work, and to bear the fruit of that labor is a great feeling."

Deraney, a former Mississippi State University golfer who now works in Lexington, is the reigning state match-play champ.

Faulkner is a former University of Louisville player, Shirley is a Campbellsville alumnus, and Sargent signed with Western Kentucky after a standout high school career at Scott County.

Gilles, originally from Owensboro, is a CPA in Lexington. He graduated from UK in 2007 and was out of competitive golf from 2003 to '09.

"It's crazy how much the nerves affect you when you first get back in competitive golf," he said. "It's a completely different game than regular golf. But a lot of my rounds now are competitive, and it's almost like a normal day again."

Clark's Pump-N-Shop Marathon is in the first year of a three-year sponsorship of the State Am, which is conducted by the Kentucky Golf Association.

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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