Former Lobos lead Open
Jon Sauer has a five-stroke lead heading into Saturday’s final round of the 51st Annual Socorro Open golf tournament.
The St. Cloud, Minn., native and 2009 University of New Mexico graduate shot 67 on Thursday and 66 on Friday under ideal conditions both days at the New Mexico Tech Golf Course. At 11-under par after 36 holes, his closest pursuer is another former Lobo, Madalitso Muthiya, the 2006 champion, who’s at 6 under.
“I putted really well for two days; that’s pretty much all it was,” said Sauer, who doesn’t plan to change his game for the final round. “I’m just going to try to keep making putts.”
Sauer entered the day one stroke behind Zach Fullerton, an amateur who shot 66 on Thursday. According to NMTGC Pro Russ Moore, amateurs have won just three times in the 50-year history of the tournament.
Fullerton, a La Cueva High School graduate who went on to earn All-American status at New Mexico Junior College, shot 74 on Friday and dropped into a tie for third place overall at 4-under par. Professional Nicholas Mason of Denver also stands at 4 under.
After that, the field is bunched. Michael Baird of Castle Rock, Colo., who tied for third a year ago, Derek Watson of Andrews, Texas, and Alexander Theodore of Salt Lake City are at 3-under par. Elmer Amaya of Albuquerque and Tom Gempel of Parker, Colo. are the only other players under par at 2-under.
Miguel Griego, an assistant pro at the Tech golf course and a three-time champion, struggled on Thursday but bounced back to shoot 2-under par on Friday.
Griego, also a former player at UNM, said it could have been better.
“I left some more out there,” he said after finishing up. “At least it gives me a chance to make the cut. We’ll see what happens.”
Griego, who started Friday’s round on the back nine, double bogeyed the 10th hole, but shot 4-under the rest of the way. He did make the cut and is tied for 19th at 5-over par.
Fullerton, who is now attending New Mexico State University, leads the championship flight by 7 strokes over another Aggie, Chandler Smith-Stetson, who’s at 3-over par.
Former Aggie Anton Salome of Socorro, and Joon Heui Lee, currently a member of the NMSU golf team, are tied for third at 4 over.
Complete results for the amateur flights were unavailable at El Defensor Chieftain press time.
Tee times for the professional and championship flight begin at 11 a.m. today.
In addition to the final round at the golf course, five golfers are scheduled to participate in the famous Elfego Baca Shoot — a rigourous trip down M Mountain.
Contact T.S. Last