The final round of the 91st Grant County Amateur Golf Championship sponsored by Hoosier Jiffy Print might look like an old Wild West shootout on Sunday at Arbor Trace.
Although the big drama has been part of the title race in each of the past two summers, those races have essentially come down to two men battling it out in an almost match play situation to decide the winner.
To start Sunday’s round, a trio of golfers tie the lead while three other men are all two shots away from first place.
The leading pack of Lance Hoch, Blake LeFavour and Aaron Fulda are all chasing their first Am County title. They entered the Marion Elks’ third round on Saturday in a three-way tie, one shot behind 36-hole leaders Todd Chin and BJ White.
Hoch, LeFavour and Fulda each shot a par, 73 at the Elks and took the lead by a stroke over five-time champion Chin, who finished with 75.
The Elks’ primary defense against the course was its undulating greens and some difficult pin placements, and nearly every golfer in the championship flight felt like they left shots on the course, especially on those putting surfaces.
“The bowling placements on these greens, they worked to speed these greens up a bit, and they were tricky,” said LeFavour, who will be a senior at IWU this fall. “They were hard to read and I missed a few three footers that I would in most other places. It was a key point today.
“I hit my driver very well for the most part and hit my irons well,” he added. “I gave myself a lot of chances but I didn’t capitalize on my putts. I left a lot of putts there. I’m happy with the way I stuck the ball. I just have to approach tomorrow with confidence and try to do my best.
Hoch has lined up in each of the last two county tournaments and was in battle with four-time winner Cody White and eight-time champion Andy Varner until some bogeys to start the back nine at Meshingomesia last year left him watching and chasing the final holes.
He hopes the final round at Arbor Trace will be a little different.
“All year I’ve hit the ball really well, but my putt isn’t where I’d like to be,” Hoch said. “When I shoot well, my putts fall. It will definitely be a shootout tomorrow. I think I can putt a little better since I grew up there.
“I go out there and play my game. I’ll miss a few putts and make a few, but I can’t worry about anyone else,” he added. “It’s not over until the last putt lands. …. I’m looking forward to it and I think it’s going to be a good day.
Fulda, who will be a sophomore at Eastbrook, has already had a busy and impressive week. Although he is new to the pressure of the final group in a county, he is a veteran of competing and winning golf tournaments. Fulda shot 76 to win a Little City Golf Tour event at Honeywell on Monday, shot 74 at Chestnut Hills in Fort Wayne on Tuesday to win an Indiana Junior Golf Association event on Tuesday, then finished his week with rounds of 76 and 71 to place eighth. out of 150 junior players at Rock Hollow in Peru.
Saturday’s best run came from Varner, who entered the set six shots off the lead. However, he will head into Arbor Trace just two points behind. He was four-under going to the 15th tee, but double-bogeyed on the par-3 and just shot a two-under, 70.
“The first of the tournament,” Varner said of the double. “Hit a bad tee shot and made mistakes worse from there. A few years ago I made a triple on this hole this year I made a double so I guess I got better. still not good
“I hit the ball the same way for three days, just didn’t score. Maybe (putts will come) tomorrow, maybe they won’t.
BJ White finished with 76 after making back-to-back bogeys on 10, 11 and 12. He said he was only disappointed that he cut a few chips that led to the drop shots, but that he was happy to go to Arbor Trace only two whims.
“If I’m not making these bad chips, I’m right,” White said. “To be honest, with three rounds under my best, I played three really good rounds of golf for a guy who doesn’t play a lot. I am really happy.
Defending champion Cody White, shot 74, is five shots off the top three. Keith Ruberg had 76 and sits six shots back.
Fulda’s Eastbrook teammate, rising junior Andrew Jarck, shot 76 to top the first flight. Mike Hicks shot a 75 to move from 10th to tied for third with Todd Butcher (78), four behind Jarck. Pete DeLongchamp finished with 77 and is a comeback.
Ethan Gallaway shot 79 to move up to second in the standings, one shot ahead of Braden Renbarger, who finished with 82.
The battle in the third flight appears to be for second place behind Justin Dakin, who shot an 83 and leads by 10 shots.
91st Grant County Amateur Golf Tournament
54 hole scores
Rd. 1 – Mesingonesia
Rd. 2 – Walnut Creek
Rd. 3 – Marion Elks
Final round at Arbor Trace, Sunday, 8 a.m.
T1. Lance Hoch 74-70-73–217
Aaron Fulda 76-68-73—217
Blake LeFavour 76-68-73—217
4. Todd Chin 72-71-75–218
T5. BJ White 73-70-76—219
7. Cody White 77-71-74-222
8.Keith Ruberg 73-74-76—223
9. Tanners Day 74-78-77—229
10.Robert Etherton 77-76-81-234
1. Andrew Jarck 75-80-76—231
2. Peter DeLongchamp 78-77-77—232
T3. Todd Boucher 82-75-78—235
Mike Hicks- 83-77-75—235
T5. Loren Oke 77-77-82—236
André Morrical 83-76-77—236
7. Joshua Dakin 80-78-80—238
8. Jared Jarck 81-74-84—239
9. Bob Smithson 81-73-87—241
10. Doug Carey 79-79-84—242
1. Ethan Gallaway 85-81-79—245
2. Braden Renbarger 83-81-82–246
3. Kirk Barton 88-76-88—252
4. Kevin Caudill 87-80-87–254
5. Devin McVicker 85-81-89—255
6. Landon Tropf 88-86-85—259
7. Nick Duke Sr. 87-87-90—264
8. Jeffery McVicker 85-88-87–260
9.Jeff Leckron 87-86-97—270
10. Chad Hurd 85-82-xx—WD
1. Justin Dakin 86-89-83—258
2. Jeff Moore 92-88-88—268
3. Brian Fuller 89-92-88—269
4. Phil Leckron 97-81-93–271
5. Ian Brookshire 100-87-87-274
6. Jimmy Reeves 92-98-92-282
7.Carter Elkins 102-94-88–284
8. Brian Gallaway 101-94-90—285
9. Bob Leckron 94-101-104—299
Arbor Trace Sunday Departure Times
8 a.m.: Elkins, B. Gallaway, B. Leckron
8:10 p.m.: P. Leckron, Brookshire, Reeves
8:20 p.m.: Justin Dakin, Moore, Fuller
8:30 p.m.: J. McVicker, Duke Sr., J. Leckron
8:40 p.m.: Caudill, D. McVicker, Tropf
8:50 p.m.: E. Gallaway, Renbarger, Barton
9 a.m.: J. Jarck, Smithson, Carey
9:10 am: Morrical, One, Joshua Dakin
9:20 a.m.: A. Jarck, DeLongchamp, Hicks, Boucher
9:30 a.m.: Ruberg, Day, Etherton
9:40 a.m.: Varner, BJ, White, C. White
9:50 am: LeFavour, Fulda, Hoch, Chin