LEWISVILLE — It was moving day on a hot Saturday at the Bright Realty Texas State Open and no one moved better than Chris Ward of McKinney who used a 5-under par 67 to take the lead by one after 54 holes at The Lakes of Castle Hills.
Tyler’s Bobby Massa, in the hunt at 6-under par starting the third round, was one of several of the leaders who backed up on moving day. The long-hitting Massa started with a bogey but managed to fight his way back to 1-under for the round through seven with birdies on the fourth, sixth and seventh holes. Then, on the par-5 eighth, a crushed drive was never found. The resulting two-stroke penalty led to a double bogey 7 that was followed by a bogeys on the ninth and the par-5 12th which led to a disappointing 75.
“Everything just wasn’t there today,” Massa said after the round. “My timing was off today and I just couldn’t find it. I will just go to the range to fix it and try again (Sunday).”
Massa is in search of the torrid play he displayed for 17 holes on Friday when he reached 8-under par for his round before a double bogey on the last hole. Saturday, his round was up and down with a double bogey, four bogeys and three birdies.
Ward, a former Texas Tech golfer and the 2010 Texas Amateur Champion, used his Saturday round to get to 10-under 206, and sports a single stroke advantage over Stuart Deane of Arlington and Scott McVarish of Magnolia. Deane was one of three players to tie the competitive course record with Michael Arnaud of Covington, La., and amateur Derek Oland of Arlington, all going 7-under par for the day.
Oland was part of an onslaught by the five amateurs who made the cut. Besides the 65 by Oland, amateurs Colton Crawford of Mansfield and Vincent Martino of Southlake had 66s while Matt Gilchrest of Southlake came in with a 67 and Tanner Kesterson fired a third consecutive 70. All of the amateurs are within striking distance with Oland and Martino two strokes back, Crawford and Gilchrest three back and Kesterson still lurking at four back.
“I think the fine showing thus far of the amateurs just points to high level of junior competition and good instruction,” Mark Harrison, executive director of the Northern Texas Section of the PGA, said. “The amateurs now come out for this tournament ready to play as was obvious today.”
No amateur has won the Texas State Open since the first year it was played in 1960. The title that year went to a young Homero Blancas of the University of Houston.
Ward’s round was steady with six birdies and only one bogey coming at the par-4 11th hole.
“Everything is clicking right now,” Ward said. “I was hitting a lot of fairways and greens today. I think I only missed one or two fairways and one or two greens. And that is my strategy for tomorrow; just keep hitting fairways and greens to give myself chances.”
Co-low amateur in the 2009 Texas State Open, Ward is eager a win to his professional resume.
“Being low amateur in 2009 was one of the highlights on my amateur career and winning here tomorrow would definitely be the highlight of my pro career,” Ward said.
Ward’s closest pursuers, Deane and McVarish, took different approaches to their under par rounds on Saturday. Deane’s 65 consisted of seven birdies and no bogeys while McVarish managed a 69 with six birdies and three bogeys.
Play begins at 8 a.m. on Sunday with the final twosome scheduled to tee off at 12:57 p.m.