Future Masters: Sandhu opens 6-shot lead in 11-12 division heading into final round

Sihan Sandhu quickly opened some daylight between himself and the rest of the 11-12 age group in Monday’s second round of the Press Thornton Future Masters.

Sandhu of Ashburn, Va., birdied his first three holes on his way to a superb 7-under-par 63 for a two-round 10-under 130 total. Sandhu, who won this age group last year, leads by six shots over Asher Joseph of Melbourne, Fla., who shot a 1-under 69 for a 36-hole 136 total.

William Jennings, who played in the same foursome as Joseph, shot a 2-under 68 and is in third place at 137. Matt Moloney of Vienna, Va., shot a 69 and is in fourth place at 138.

Sandhu’s birdie-birdie-birdie start – the second straight day he birdied the demanding par-3 No. 3 – started a round of precise ball striking.

“I played as good as yesterday, just had more putts to drop,” Sandhu said.

The round was so solid he couldn’t think of any big par saves that kept his round going.

“It was pretty much fairway, green, fairway, green,” Sandu said. “I only missed one or two in regulation.”

His only bogey came on No. 16 – after his only bad drive of the day. He regrouped and birdied both No. 17 and No. 18 to finish the gem. Other birdies came on Nos. 6, 8 and 12.

The number of golfers under par went from eight after the first round to four after the second. Four others – Shawn Coultoff of Winter Garden, Fla., Samuel Duran of Panama City, Panama, Billy Abdow of Duluth, Ga., and Frank Kennedy of Crewe, England – are at even-par 140.

Joseph, who shared the first-round lead with Sandhu after a 67 on Sunday, did a good job of grinding out a 69 on Monday.

“The front nine I didn’t hit the ball very good, but my putter was amazing,” Joseph said, noting he had seven putts after his first six holes. He shot 32 on the front. “Then the back was the just the opposite. I hit the ball really good and the putts wouldn’t fall.

“I had five or six inside of eight feet for birdie and missed them all. I shot 37 on the back and hit it better than I did on the front.”

Jennings shot even-par 35 on the front with a birdie at No. 3 and a bogey at No. 4. His approach shots on the back gave him better opportunities.

“I hit a bunch of good iron shots, but still left a lot of putts out there,” Jennings said. “A couple fell in. I birdied No. 11 with a 30-footer that got me going on the back. I birdied No. 15 from 10 feet.”

Moloney said he had a “pretty solid day.” He birdied No. 2 and No. 11 and his only bogey came on No. 16 after “a stupid chip.”

“I hit a lot of greens,” Moloney said. “I wasn’t making a lot of putts, but I hit a lot of greens in regulation.”

Sandhu’s 63 was posted early. His group was the second foursome in and his score created murmurs across the Dothan Country Club course.

“He’s just good. He’s super consistent and has an amazing short game,” said Abdow, who has played with Sandhu.

Abdow, one of the golfers at even-par 140, said he was proud to grind out a 70 on Monday.

“My short game really helped me,” he said. “I eagled 10, which was our starting hole, and then doubled 12. But I got up-and-down several times. I knew I needed to get under par to get close to Sihan.”

Still, going into the final round, Abdow said a mid-60s or even better round is out there.

“I’m long and the course is pretty short,” he said. “So you want to stick some wedges close, make some putts and see what happens.”

Sandhu, who is still getting over the flu that knocked him down two weeks ago, isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I want to play regular golf tomorrow and hope for the best,” the leader said.


Fine round: Mason Crowder of Dothan continued his fine play. He followed an opening-round 73 with an even-par 70. He is tied for 16th after two rounds.

“I had two birdies and two bogeys,” Crowder said, adding the birdies were on Nos. 12 and 15 and the bogeys came on No. 18 and No. 5.

He saved his round from getting away late on Nos. 7 and 8, his 16th and 17th holes, when he saved par out of a bunker on both holes. He said it was hard to keep his focus for the full 18 holes, noting the trouble he had Monday and the bogey-bogey finish on Sunday.

That will be a goal going into today’s final round.

“I want to keep my focus through all 18 holes,” Crowder said.

Learn from mistakes: Christopher Yeilding of Birmingham knows the only thing worse than rushing on the golf course is rushing in the scoring area.

Two years ago, playing in the 10-under division, Yeilding was reviewing his round with his father. They realized he had been credited with a par when he made a bogey on the par-3 fifth hole. Sure enough, he had signed for a wrong score.

When he alerted tournament officials to the error, he was disqualified.

“We knew it was going to happen, but it was the right thing to do,” Yeilding said.

Today, Yeilding makes no apologies for carefully checking his card.

“Me and my mom (Elizabeth Yeilding) checked it five or six times,” he said. “After every nine, we double check it, then the next nine, we double check that, and then at 18 we check it again. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Bouncing back: While Sandhu’s 63 was the round of the day, John Hiller of New York City was nearly as impressive. A day after opening the Future Masters with a 6-over 76, Hiller rebounded with a 3-under 67 – the best round of the day outside of the leader’s.

Hiller bogeyed No. 10, his opening hole, then got a roll with birdies on Nos. 12, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 1. He bogeyed Nos. 4 and 7 coming in. He’s tied for 16th at 3-over 143.

Cut line: The field of 80 was cut to low 40 and ties. The cut came at 11-over 151. Forty-two golfers will tee it up in today’s final round.

John Brady Knight of Kennesaw, Ga., Derek Gutierrez of Cranford, N.J., and Pavel Tsar of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., made the cut on the number.

Source: dothaneagle.com