Steady Jackson has 2-shot lead at WPGA Amateur Championship
If Palmer Jackson wants to capture the 119th Western Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Amateur Championship on Wednesday, he knows he has to play better than his first two rounds.
The Murrysville native and future Notre Dame golfer shot a 1-under-par 70 on Tuesday at Oakmont Country Club and is even through two rounds at 142, two shots ahead of co-first-round leader Indiana’s Kyle Grube.
Greensburg native and West Virginia golfer Mark Goetz is third at 3-over, and Peters Township’s Connor Schmidt and Oakmont’s Nathan Sutherland are tied for fourth at 4-over.
Jack Katarincic of Fox Chapel, the low amateur at last week’s Frank B. Fuhrer Jr. Invitational, is sixth at 5-over.
Jackson and Schmidt are the only golfers to post under-par scores (1-under) during the two days.
The original field of 78 was cut down to 34 for the final round, which begins at 7:45 a.m. for the final round.
Jackson’s finish was much better than his first round when he bogeyed three of his final six holes. Tuesday, after a 30-minute lightning delay, he finished with three consecutive pars. He was 2-under on the back nine after birdies on Nos. 10 and 12.
It was No. 10 that cost Jackson the WPIAL Class AAA title last fall.
“I hit hybrid and almost holed my second shot,” Jackson said about No. 10. “This course is so tough. You have to play within yourself and try to put yourself in a good spot for Wednesday, and that’s what I did.”
His bogey came on No. 7 when he drove into the rough and three-putted from 80 feet.
“I love being in the final group,” Jackson said. “If you don’t want to be in the final group, you shouldn’t be playing.
“I was just trying to put myself in a good spot for the final round. After the delay I had a 12-footer for par and made that, and on No. 17 my caddie talked me into laying up, which I never do, and I made par.”
Jackson said it would be a great accomplishment to win the championship.
Goetz shot a 1-over 73 on Tuesday.
He bogeyed two of his final three holes after the delay. He started on No. 10 and bogeyed Nos. 7 and 9.
“I played solid the last two days,” Goetz said. “I didn’t get into too many bad spots. That was big. I made a good par save on No. 8, and it was another solid day. I had a few more putts drop.”
Goetz said the conditions the first two days of the tournament were similar. He said the greens were a little faster during the first round.
“I just wanted to give myself a chance to win the tournament,” Goetz said. “I want to be close heading into the final nine holes.”
Schmidt had a great round going early. He was 5-under for his round through 12 holes, but he stumbled in with two bogeys and a double-bogey 6 on No. 17.
“I wish I could have finished better,” Schmidt said. “But this course can grab you. I just didn’t finish strong.”
The Amateur Championship is one of the oldest events in the state. Past champions include Arnold Palmer, Nathan Smith, Sean Knapp and William C. Fownes. Knapp and Fownes won the title eight times each and Palmer five times.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .