Ott Chandler and Marcus Harrell, the 2008 Classic kings, hold a three-shot lead after 36 holes following a 13-under-par 59 in the modified scramble round at Cider Ridge Golf Club. It left them at 28-under 116 for the tournament.
They’ll need to shoot an 8-under 63 on the fast and furious greens of Anniston Country Club to break the event’s modern-era scoring record that has stood for eight years and been tied once.
But that won’t be the main concern today.
“We just want to win the tournament,” Harrell said. “You’d like to be part of any kind of record, no matter what the record is, but first and foremost we’re going after the tournament.”
Their closest challengers — at 25-under 119 — are the teams of Drew Archer-Richard Poole and Matias Anselmo-Richard Turner. The teams of Gary Wilborn-Garrett Burgess and Gary Wigington-Randy Reaves are a shot behind at 120, while Nathan Bennett and Dan Glidewell are another shot back.
The leaders’ round Saturday, bolstered by Harrell’s big ball off the tee and Chandler’s deft short game, featured seven birdies on the front nine and six on the back. Twice they put together strings of three in a row. They might have had as many as six in a row in the middle of the round, but Harrell, who made a curling 30-footer on the final green to bring his team the 2008 title, missed a tricky 3-footer three times on No. 10.
“We knew going into today if we could get to around 13- or 14- (under) that’d be a good round,” Harrell said. “We made some we shouldn’t have, but we definitely left some out there — for sure. But all in all, we played good.
“Out there in this tournament, as many good players as you have, it’s a constant grind. You slip up on just two or three holes in a row, you’re losing ground big time.”
And that’s what happened to several of the contenders. They simply lost ground by getting stuck on the back nine.
Bennett and Glidewell finished their front nine with five straight birdies and turned in 30, but made only two birdies coming home.
“We didn’t shoot ourselves out of it (Saturday), honestly, but we came close to it, the way we played the back nine (and) the way Ott and Marcus played today,” Glidewell said. “We definitely didn’t shoot ourselves out of it … we’ve just got to play really good (today) instead of just average golf. We’ve got more will to win than anybody. Even though we’re (five) shots back, we still think we can win. There’s no doubt in our mind we can still win.”
Wilborn and Burgess were 8-under at the turn and 9-under through 10 after Burgess chipped in for birdie, but they, too, only birdied two more holes. And they failed to birdie either of the par-5s on the back.
“I don’t know what happened,” Burgess said. “Gary hit it in the hazard on 11 and then I hit in the hazard. It just seemed like after that it just went away. All of a sudden we just couldn’t make any putts. We’d hit it up there less than 100 yards (and) we weren’t going to make birdie. It was brutal, but it’s happened like that the last two days.
“We were killing it on the front. We thought we were just going to cruise in with a 15- or 16-under. It was just one of those days. You get it going and then it just goes away.”
By contrast, Anselmo and Turner converted only four birdies on the front, but charged home with seven birdies in their last nine holes, including a 45-footer on 17.
Archer and Poole, meanwhile, stayed hot throughout the round. They made seven birdies on each side, and at one stretch had 10 in a row.
Archer was particularly sharp. He made 12 birdies and had an eagle putt on 18 for 59 on his own ball.
“It was a good day for both of us,” Archer said. “(Poole) did a good job putting the ball in play and letting me free-wheel it a couple of times. … We couldn’t make any putts (Friday), but we had it rolling pretty good (Saturday).”
Chandler said breaking the scoring record “is possible,” but his team is likely the only one that could do it because he doesn’t foresee an 11- or 12-under coming out of ACC today. Only two winning teams have posted double-digit under-par rounds in the modern-era of the tournament — where handicaps can take a player no farther than par — and they can prior to the club refurbishing its greens to its present grass type and speed.
“If somebody shot 10-under, they’ve played some really good golf,” Chandler said. “I’m going to go home and practice putting on the concrete floor in my shop. Those greens are so fast, I’m going to practice putting on my concrete floor.”
Al Muskewitz covers golf for The Star. He can be reached at 235-3577.