SIMPSONVILLE — Patrick Newcomb hopes it'll be deja vu all over again in the Kentucky State Amateur golf championship on Thursday.
Last year Newcomb started the last day with a two-shot lead and wound up winning the 100th State Am at Kearney Hill Links. A stunned Newcomb got a bear hug from his dad/caddy, Monty, and he celebrated the biggest victory of his life.
Fast forward to Thursday, when Newcomb, a senior-to-be at Murray State, will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the 101st State Am at The Cardinal Club. Once again, his dad will be on his bag (or in his cart).
But Newcomb, who fired a 4-under 67 on Wednesday after a 68 on Tuesday, isn't letting himself daydream of a repeat title.
"I'm not thinking about stuff like that," Newcomb said. "I'm just trying to go out and play solid again.
"Going into the week, I was thinking three scores in the 60's would look really, really good. A 69 in my game plan (for Thursday) isn't out of the question out here."
Newcomb's closest challenger is 16-year-old Tyler McDaniel, who won Mr. Golf honors after his freshman season at Clay County last fall. He's at 68-69—137.
Taylor Riggs, a sophomore at EKU, and Tyler Mitchell, who just finished his senior year at UNC-Charlotte, are tied for third at 68-71—139.
Tyler Sharpe, the 2008 State Am winner, and Ryan McCann, the reigning club champ here, are five shots behind Newcomb.
After grinding out a 68 on Tuesday, Newcomb said he was in golf nirvana on Wednesday. "I was hitting it everywhere I wanted and I made a lot of putts."
Except on the last hole where he had his only three-putt hiccup of the tournament. The bogey left Newcomb a little steamed, but he cooled off quickly. "I'm not complaining about a 67," he said. "I'm just so competitive."
McDaniel, playing in his first State Am, didn't have anything to complain about.
"I've been hitting the ball really good and I've had a lot of chances for birdie," he said.
McDaniel appears poised beyond his years. He won a PGA junior tournament at Kearney Hill a couple weeks ago, and he's not the least surprised he's in contention this week.
He's not stressing over it, either. "I just want to play good," he said. "If I win, I win. If I don't, I don't."
Riggs, who is also playing in his first State Am, used his putter as his rescue club on Wednesday.
"I probably could have three-putted 12 times," he said, "but I kept making 3-footers, 5-footers and 7-footers all day long."
Mitchell, who plans to turn pro next month, said he had "a lot of bad lip-outs" in the second round, but he survived with a good attitude. "I'm getting my game together and getting my mind right."
Newcomb is trying to become the 10th player to win back-to-back State Ams. Jordan Blann was the last to do it in 2009 and 2010.