CARROLLTON — Week-long leader Pierceson Coody stayed steady while others around him struggled Thursday, then put on a finishing kick on the final holes, to grab a commanding five-shot lead heading to the final round of the 116th Trans-Mississippi Amateur Championship at Maridoe Golf Club.
Coody took a two-shot overnight lead in the second round, which was interrupted by a rain delay, he then expanded his lead from two to five shots with a third-round 71 for a 210 total. University of Texas at Arlington junior Paul Gonzalez and BYU senior Rhett Rasmussen are tied for second at 215 after rounds of 71 and 74, respectively. Wake Forest golfer Cameron Young is alone in the fourth place after a 68 for a 216.
“I playing well and putting well and giving myself a lot of confidence,” Coody said of his third round surge. “The key for (Friday) is to continue to give myself chances for birdies.”
He is chasing a number of records in the Friday finale including become the first golfer since at least 2010 to lead solo wire to wire over four days. He is also seeking to join a long burnt orange list of UT champions including PGA Tour winners Ben Crenshaw, Mark Brooks and Bob Estes.
“The only motivation is to continue to play well and keep it going,” said Coody, who just finished his freshman year at Texas. “I’ve just got to continue to keep doing it.”
Coody's twin, Parker, moved to fifth with a rounds of 68 and 73 for a 54-hole total of 217.
Texas State University's Logan Lockwood, of Van, is tied for 38th at 226 (75-74-77).
At the turn on another warm Thursday, Coody had allowed Rasmussen to creep to within three shots of the lead, but then responded with birdies on No. 15 and 17, the final one coming on a twisting 15-foot birdie putt.
“I was pretty disappointed with the way I played on the front nine, but in the middle holes on the back, which I consider the meat of the course, I was able to turn it on and put some separation between me and the others and that’s what I wanted.”
Gonzalez, who is playing in his first Trans-Miss tournament, near his college home said he had a simple plan to try and catch Coody on Friday.
“You have to be conservative out here and focus on making pars,” he said. “I’ve played here a fair number of times and know that pars can mean a lot on this course. Get it in the fairway, get it in the green and give yourself a two putts for par and if the putt goes in for birdie so be it.”
While Coody and most others have been up and down in their rounds this week at par 72 Maridoe, the UTA golfer has been rock steady with rounds of 72-72-71.
“Being conservative is the key out here.”
Rasmussen said he was disappointed he didn’t close the gap further, but felt he said had a chance to play better in Friday’s final round.
“I’ve just got to play better and putt better and see what happens,” he said.
Nearly half of the Trans-Miss field had to return early Thursday morning to finish the second after a brief, but violent storm forced play to be halted late Wednesday.
The 36-hole cut was made Thursday mid-morning at 6-over-par, and the third round was played without delay.
“I didn’t handle the rain delay really well because I birdied one hole when I came back, but messed up two others. But others had it a lot worse than I did. It’s an outdoor sport, so you have to be ready for this,” Coody added