Newcomb leads as heat takes toll on State Am field

Patrick Newcomb churned up a sandstorm, but he nearly holed his long bunker shot on No. 3 Wednesday. He birdied the hole.
Patrick Newcomb churned up a sandstorm, but he nearly holed his long bunker shot on No. 3 Wednesday. He birdied the hole.

Golf on a griddle.

That was the second round of the 100th Appalachian Wireless Kentucky State Amateur championship at Kearney Hill Links on Wednesday.

The 7,200-yard sun-cooked course was too hot to handle for most golfers, who had to deal with a steady breeze and ultra-firm, dried-out, slick-as-glass greens.

Patrick Newcomb was a notable exception. The Murray State junior-to-be, whose 68 tied him for the first-round lead, followed it up with a 69.

"I'm a lot happier with this 69 than I was with the 68," he said. "On the back nine today it was a constant grind. The greens were unreal hard.

"I'm mentally and physically drained."

Newcomb is at 7-under for the tournament and has a two-shot lead going into Thursday's final round.

Centre College graduate Chris Morris, who won the NCAA Division III title last month, is in second place after shooting 69-70—139.

Dave Snyder of Somerset, a freshman-to-be at UK, is next at 70-71—141.

Only six golfers are under par after two days.

Bruce Walters II of Pikeville, who battled leukemia last year and missed the golf season, was the story of the first round when he shared the lead with a 68.

The 36-year-old car dealer didn't fare as well Wednesday, ballooning to an 83. He made the cut, though, and was joking after his long day in the heat. "It would've been bad enough if I was playing good," he said with a laugh.

Morris said Kearney's baked conditions made it resemble a British Open course.

"The greens were getting really firm, even burned out in some spots, so it was tough to figure out the speed on chips, and how the ball was going to bounce.

"It was definitely a mental round for me, especially with the heat."

Morris said he hopes Thursday will bring a different result than last year's State Am final round when he let a lead slip away in the closing holes.

"This is what I wanted," he said. "I just wanted to have a shot on the back nine the last day of the tournament."

Snyder is in contention thanks to a solid short game Wednesday. He got off to a slow start and was 2-over after three holes, but he rallied with four birdies.

He's a little surprised he's so close to the lead.

"I thought scores would be a little lower, and that it might take 10- or 11-under to win," he said.

Dan DePasquale, a 30-year-old CPA, was one of the few early-afternoon finishers to break par. He followed a first-round 72 with a 70 and attributed his 2-under day to adept scrambling.

DePasquale is originally from Buffalo, N.Y., and played college golf at Methodist in North Carolina. He's lived in Louisville the past seven years and seen his golf get better while playing less.

"It's funny that my game's been slowly improving since I've been working full-time," he said. "I'm thinking my way around the golf course better, thinking one shot at a time and staying positive.

"That really helped me today."

Hunter Ford, a Murray State golfer, shot a 3-under 69 Wednesday and is at 2-under for the tournament, along with J.P. Newsome of Pike-ville. Newsome, who plays for Charleston Southern, shot a 72 in the second round.