HORSESHOE BAY—Terence Begnel admitted to not playing his best golf Saturday during the second round of the Texas Mid-Amateur Championship. He can take solace in the fact that he’s still looking down at everyone on the leaderboard.
Begnel, a 28-year-old from Midland, made 15 pars, a birdie, bogey and double-bogey for a 2-over-par 73 at Escondido Golf & Lake Club. Combined with his first round 66, he leads the elite field at 3-under 139 with one round left to play. Begnel holds a one-shot lead over Brandon Burke from Houston, who shot a second round 71. Two shots back are John Bearrie from Arlington and Doug Manor from Dallas. Both are 1-under 141 through 36 holes.
The final round of the 54-hole, individual stroke play event begins Sunday at 8 a.m. Begnel began his day with eight straight pars before he made a frustrating double-bogey on the par-5 18th hole, which was Begnel’s ninth of the day.
“I just didn’t play well today,” said Begnel, who won two junior college events at Midland College before he finished his collegiate career at Oral Roberts in Oklahoma. “I struck it so much better yesterday in the rain. Today I just found a way to two-putt from 60 feet and keep in it.”
After receiving nearly two inches of rain during the previous two days, Escondido dried out quickly. Whatever rain was in the forecast for Saturday averted the course that has been ranked in in Golfweek’s Top 100 Residential Golf Courses in America since it opened in 2006.
If Begnel was annoyed with his play Saturday, it didn’t take long for him to spin himself into a positive mindset.
“I don’t have to think about today or yesterday,” said Begnel, who works in sales for a Midland oil and gas company called Phoenix Services. “I know I have a one-shot lead going into tomorrow, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
He’ll be paired Sunday with Burke, who posted 2-under 140 early in the day to hold the clubhouse lead until Begnel finished nearly six hours later.
Playing during the heaviest rains on Friday, Burke, 25, turned in a 2-under 69, one of a handful of under-par scores from the first round’s afternoon wave of players. On Saturday, the native Houstonian who finished his collegiate career at Rice posted an even-par 71, which was the best score among contenders in the morning wave.
“I was shooting for very specific targets,” said Burke, a geologist for Houston-based Berger Geosciences. “When I needed to scramble, I have myself plenty of room and rarely short-sided myself.”
Designed by Tom Fazio and opened for play in 2006, Escondido is as demanding as it is scenic. Cavernous fairway bunkers, naturally flowing water features and dense stands of live oak trees help to frame the taxing sightlines off tee boxes. The Zoysia-grass fairways produce near-perfect lies for those who are accurate with their tee shots. The firm, undulating greens feature Champions Bermuda that have rolled between 12-13 inches on the Stimpmeter.
“It was tougher today,” Burke said. “It’s incredible how well this golf course has handled all the rain we’ve had. Yesterday I played in the pouring rain. Today the ball was releasing and rolling out a lot more than I expected. That was quite an adjustment.”
Bearrie, the 2012 Mid-Amateur champion, shot a 3-under 68 in the second round. Manor, the 2013 Texas Amateur champion, finished at 1-under 70. They share third place, one shot better than Mike Booker from The Woodlands, Trevor Hyde from Kerrville and first round leader Trey Owen from Austin.
Fifty-four players made the 36-hole cut at 9-over 151. The top five finishers in Sunday’s final round receive exemptions into the 2015 Texas Amateur, to be played at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas. For more information on the Texas Mid-Amateur, including complete scoring, please click here