Feature photo: Ross Sinclair has a two-shot lead heading into the final round of the Greater Albuquerque Men’s City Amateur Golf Championship (courtesy of Ross Sinclair).
By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
On a day when Arroyo del Oso played wet and long for most of the field, Ross Sinclair had a cut-and-dry solution in the 79th-annual Greater Albuquerque Men’s City Amateur Golf Championship,
Just go longer.
Sinclair, a senior on the University of New Mexico golf team, used his power off the tee, his precision with his short irons and drained enough putts to fire a 6-under 66 in Saturday’s second round of the 54-hole event. He grabbed a two-shot lead over Neil Parasher heading into Sunday’s final round at Los Altos.
Sinclair is at 10-under 134, after opening the event with a 4-under 68 on Friday at Ladera.
Parasher, a junior at Albuquerque Academy High School and the first-round leader after a 7-under 65, is at 136.
Defending champion Simon Miller (70-68) and Aidan Thomas (70-68) are tied for fourth at 138, while Josh Walker (69-71), who leads the President’s flight (2.0-6.0 handicaps) but is eligible for the overall title, is fifth at 141.
Shaun Payne is sixth at 142. Tiger Lee (70-73) and Tyrone Thomas (68-75) share eighth at 143.
“He is really long,” Miller, a 2011 Albuquerque Academy graduate, said of Sinclair. “It’s impressive. He plays his game, I play my game, but he hits it about 40 yards past me.
“It was pretty wet out there this morning, and that made the course play longer. It wasn’t long for Ross.”
Sinclair had eight birdies and two bogeys and had hit it tight to the flag all day.
“I’m generally a long hitter, and I don’t run it as much on my drives,” said Sinclair, who is from Pretoria, South Africa. “It’s mostly carry, so when it’s wet I don’t notice it as much.
“I was really happy with my ball-striking; I hit it close, had a lot a good looks at birdie, and was able to get a few putts to drop.”
After his eye-popping opening round, the 16-year-old Parasher didn’t get nearly as many putts to drop on Saturday.
He had three birdies and two bogies.
“My putting just wasn’t as good,” Parasher said. “The first day, I had 27 putts, but today I had 32.
“I made a couple early and was 2-under through four holes. But I just had some trouble reading some of the putts, especially on the back nine, and let some small one go.
“At Arroyo, in general, it is a little harder to read the greens than at Ladera.”
Parasher, who won two Texas Junior Golf Tour events last month, said he is confident about reading the greens, as well as playing the rest of the course, on Sunday at Los Altos.
“That’s where I broke par for the first time, he said of a 3-under round in the New Mexico-West Texas Amateur last year. “I’m looking forward to playing there.
“I feel good about my game. I really have to thank my father (Dr. Gulshan Parasher) for that. He’s really been helping me and is a great coach.”
Miller said he also feels good about the way he’s playing, but knows it will take a great round to repeat as champion.
“I’m four back, so at least I’m within striking distance,” said Miller, 27. “But I’m going to have to make more putts than I have made the last couple of days to have a chance of catching him.
“I’ll probably have to shoot 62 to have a shot.”
Miller said he will go out with a different mindset on Sunday than he did last year, when he held a one-shot lead over Alejandro Armijo heading into the final round, with nobody else closer than seven shots.
“Last year, I went into the final day knowing I just had to protect the lead,” said Miller, who finished 13-under and won by four strokes in 2019. “This year, I have to be really aggressive. You can make a lot of birdies at Los Altos, and I’m sure a player as good as Ross will.”
Lee, Payne and Thomas are also capable of making a lot of birdies on Sunday, but are probably too far back to make a run at the consistent Sinclair.
“Now, I just have to come in loose and shoot as low as I can on Sunday,” said Thomas, a 2015 St. Pius graduate who works at Ladera. “But it’s a lot of strokes to make up.”
The lead groups are slated to tee off between 9:30 and 10 a.m., on Sunday, except for Walker. Because he is playing in the President’s flight, he will tee off about an hour earlier.
CLEAR CUT: Jason Myers has been a contender numerous times during his “18 or 19 years” playing in the tournament, but is tied for 13th after a 5-over 77 on Saturday left him 14 shots back.
But he made a short putt on 18 at Arroyo that turned out to be a huge.
“That was clutch,” Myers said with a laugh. “I made the cut again.”
Myers, who shot 71 on Friday, finished right on the cut line. He has never missed making the cut in the event.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio and has been honored nationally for investigative reporting. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.
Full scoreboard for 79th annual Greater Albuquerque Men’s City Amateur