TRINITY – As a 17-year-old playing in his first amateur tournament, William Moll from Houston has had plenty of reasons to let this moment get the better of him during the 109th playing of the Texas Amateur Championship. 
(For complete scores, click here.)
For the third consecutive day, however, the Memorial High School senior controlled both his emotions and golf ball on a demanding golf course while holding at bay potential mental distractions. As a result, he continues to lead the most prominent amateur championship in the state. 
Moll shot a 1-over-par 73 in Saturday’s third round and is currently at 5-under 211 for the tournament. That’s good for a two-shot lead over Sam Houston State sophomore Levi Valadez, who finished T2 in last summer’s 108th Texas Amateur. 
“I try not to think about it,” Moll said of the challenges of playing against older, more seasoned players on such a big stage. “It’s pretty tough, honestly. I’ll think about something else and focus on hitting the next shot. That’s about it. It affects me a little, but I just try not to think about it.”
That attitude has worked so far for the 2017 Jones Cup Junior Invitational champion. After a seven-birdie effort in the second round, Moll and the other 54 players who survived Friday’s 36-hole cut faced stiffer winds on Saturday. Moll made just two birdies against one bogey and a double-bogey on the par-4 sixth hole.
“I hit my driver and irons really good,” he said. “I kept it in play. My putting was a little off, but keeping it in play is really what matters here. Definitely the wind (was tougher). The pins were in a little tougher positions, but the wind was a lot stronger than the other days, which made it a lot harder.”
Valadez agreed about the tougher conditions. After two early bogeys in his third round, he stood on the tee box of the 453-yard, par-4 seventh hole and made a goal.
“I wanted to be even at the turn,” he said. “I was 2-over at that time. I was able to make a really long putt (for birdie) on No. 7, and then made another birdie on No. 9. From there, I just grinded it out and put up a decent number today.”
That number was an even-par 72. He’s at 3-under 213 overall, alone in second place and one shot clear of third place. Valadez first made his presence known on the amateur stage two years ago this month. In back-to-back weeks, he won the Insperity Invitational/Patrick Reed AJGA Junior Championship and Legends Junior Tour’s Byron Nelson Junior Championship. Since then, he said his game has steadily improved. He said he’s ready to win again, too.
“Anything can happen on this course. I’ve been in this position before,” Valadez said. “I’m just going to try and enjoy tomorrow and let things fall into place. I want to win this tournament really badly, but I’m not going to make any ‘Tin Cup’ mistakes. I’m going to play smart and whatever happens, happens.”
Three shots off the lead and tied for third place at 2-under 214 are Mitchell Meissner from San Antonio and Reese Ramsey from Austin. Meissner, a recent graduate of Rice University, shot the low round of the third round. His 1-under 71 featured three birdies and an eagle-3 on the par-5 12th hole. Ramsey, a sophomore at Texas A&M, came in with a 3-over 75 on Saturday.
Alone in fifth place is Kyle Hogan of Cypress. His three-round total is 1-under 215 after a 1-over 73 in the third round. McClure Meissner, the younger brother of Mitchell, holds sixth place at even-par 216. The SMU sophomore shot 72 on Saturday. 
Each year at the Texas Amateur, the TGA recognizes the Low Mid-Amateur finisher. Currently leading that division for players ages 25 and older is Will Osborne, the 2017 North Texas Player of the Year. He’s tied for 15th place overall at 5-over 221.
Through three rounds, Whispering Pines is holding up nicely as a championship test. The stroke average for the field is 77.56, and five players are under par overall. The 463-yard, par-4 18th hole has been the most difficult; it holds a stroke average of 4.62. The 12th is the only hole on the immaculate course that is playing under par. The 551-yard, dogleg-left par-5 has played to an average of 4.95.
The final round of the 109th Texas Amateur starts Sunday at 7:30 a.m. For more information, click here.