Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
Ross Sinclair felt good about the second round of the 79th annual Albuquerque Men’s City Championship on Saturday at Arroyo del Oso, especially after his first three holes.
Sinclair, a fifth-year senior for the University of New Mexico men’s golf team, rolled in three straight birdies en route to a 6-under-par 66 and into the lead heading into Sunday’s final round of the championship flight at Los Altos.
Sinclair is at 10-under 134, leading by two strokes over Neil Parasher, a 16-year-old Albuquerque Academy junior, who shot 1-under 71 at ADO.
City defending champion Simon Miller and Aidan Thomas, a New Mexico State golfer who starred at St. Pius, are tied for third at 6 under after both shot 4-under 68 on Saturday in sizzling conditions with temperatures in the high 90s.
“My putting was solid today, but I hit some really good wedge shots to put myself in good position off the tees,” said Sinclair, originally from South Africa. “It was all my wedge shots and ball striking for the three straight birdies. I just hit them real close. I felt a little disappointed in myself not taking advantage in some of the par 5s out there. But I did well on the par 4s with the wedge shots.”
Sinclair finished with eight birdies, including on Nos. 7, 10, 13, 17 and 18. He bogeyed 10 and 12, and settled for par on par-5 Nos. 5, 11 and 15.
After his big round, Sinclair went straight home to “grind a bit,” on his academics. He is studying for a Master of Business Administration degree in accounting. He is using his extra year of eligibility granted after men’s golf was canceled this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said he is excited to be leading. The last time he won an event was in July of 2018, the U.S. Amateur Qualifier at Jacoby Golf Course in Laramie, Wyoming.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “It feels good. There are some college players and some good high school golfers in the field. It’s cool to play with these guys.”
Parasher, who shot a personal-best 7-under 65 at Ladera on Friday for the first-round lead, found the greens a bit more challenging at Arroyo del Oso. He said he did his best to block out that he was the first-round leader.
“I just treated the second round like a new day,” Parasher said. “I think it worked, but the putting wasn’t great.”
He said he found it difficult to read the greens at ADO. He saw a couple of putts lip out and as a result he lost his lead.
Miller said he felt good to be in contention to repeat.
“I still have a chance,” Miller said. “I’m still within striking distance. Ross will be tough to catch. He even left a few out there, especially on the par 5s. I will have to shoot something really low to get to him.”
Thomas is confident that he can shoot low at Los Altos.
“I think I can play well (on Sunday),” he said. “I like Los Altos. I’m looking forward to finishing strong at Los Altos.”
Thomas, who also will gain an extra year of eligibility at NMSU because of COVID-19 shutting down the spring and fall seasons, said he has improved his ball striking and accuracy with the Aggies. He said he hopes to pick up his game when it comes to his iron play. That could make the difference in the final round.
(Click here for all scores, here for Sunday tee times. No spectators allowed because of the coronavirus public-health restrictions.)