Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

February 23, 2013

VSU alumnus Brent Witcher maintains lead at Oldfield Open

OKATIE, S.C. — On a day when heavy rain made conditions tough, allowing only six players to break 70, Valdosta State alumnus Brent Witcher rode an up-and-down round of even-par 72 to stay atop the leaderboard at 11-under par with just one round to go in the eGolf Tour’s Oldfield Open.

The Oldfield Open is the second of 24 scheduled events on the 2013 eGolf Tour schedule, and is being contested this week at both Oldfield Country Club and Callawassie Island Club (Dogwood/Magnolia) in Okatie, SC.

Witcher, who entered Friday’s third round as the event’s 18- and 36-hole leader, began the day amidst steady winds and darkening skies that eventually gave way to a steady rain which pelted the Greg Norman-designed course for the better part of two hours.

 “It was tough early on because the conditions were hard and wind was really affecting the ball,” said Witcher. “I felt like I would get it going at some point, but it took a while.”

Witcher’s playing partners — Olafur Loftsson and Stephen Poole Jr. — were struggling mightily during the opening nine, combining for a 10-over par total at the day’s halfway point.

For his part, Witcher was able to keep the ship somewhat steady on the front nine, posting a bogey at the par-4 fifth and a birdie at the par-4 ninth to turn at even-par 36.

On the back nine, the 27-year-old Witcher, who played in the 2012 South Georgia Classic in Valdosta, bogeyed the par-4 10th, turned eagle putts into back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12, and got up-and-down for bogey at the watery par-3 13th to remain even par for his round.

“I started my tee shot too far right on 13 and wound up hooking it into the water,” Witcher said. “I got up and down after taking a drop, so it was a good bogey of sorts.”

Errant tee shots into trees on 14 and 15 forced him to pull out clutch up-and-downs for par, keeping him at 11-under par for the week.

At the docile par-4 17th, Witcher’s lob wedge from 80 yards out carried a few paces too far, winding up in the back fringe.

 “I almost hit a good shot there, it just went a bit too far,” he said. “I tried to putt it from the fringe, but it never really got going and was caught up in the grass. It just stayed in the fringe.”

 An eventual bogey on 17 brought the former Valdosta State star to the double-dogleg par-5 18th, where a third shot to 30 feet set up a dramatic go-ahead birdie bomb, erasing the bogey at 17 for a third-round 72, and a 54-hole total of 11-under 205.

 “I was pretty happy with today, given the conditions,” said Witcher. “Even though my playing partners were struggling, I knew there would be some good scores out there. I figured I wouldn’t be the only one in double digits, so I had to keep pressing.”

Witcher, the 2009 Division II National Player of the Year, was a member of the Tour in 2012, posting just one made cut in 10 starts. The experience of playing on the PGA TOUR’s developmental circuit forced him to re-evaluate his strategy both on and off the course. 

The idea of taking each shot in stride and not forcing too many things on the course was put into his head during the 2012 season, and has more than paid off early thus far in 2013.

Final-round play in the Oldfield Open will begin today at 8 a.m. at Oldfield Country Club.

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