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City Am up for grabs after first round

September 9, 2018 GMT

It’s anybody’s golf tournament midway through the ninth annual City of Aiken Amateur Championship.

Stephen Anaclerio took the first-round lead with a 1-under 71 Saturday at Cedar Creek Golf Club, but Sunday’s final round at The Aiken Golf Club is looking like anything but a cakewalk.

Ten players are within six shots of the lead, including frequent contenders Chad Meldrum (75) and Bo McCullough (76).

That group also includes a couple of former Aiken High teammates, Jay Jasmin and Peter Marra, each of whom made big 30-foot putts on the 18th hole to finish strong.

Marra’s putt was a crucial bogey save and locked him in with a 76. Jasmin’s was for birdie, his second in a row, and he’s alone in second after grinding his way to a 72.

“It could’ve been really low, but it also could’ve been really high,” he said. “I was just piping everything right down the middle, and everything was going way further than usual. … Luckily, my short game was on. My yards were so bad. On the back nine, I was kind of thinking about how far I had been hitting it, and I started leaving everything short.”

The 14th hole was a prime example of that. Jasmin had 120 yards in with his second shot – usually a perfect 54-degree wedge distance – but tried to take something off of it after hitting the same club 135 yards a few holes earlier. It came up short, but his short game saved him.

The back-to-back birdies to finish were part of a bit of a strategy change. After playing conservative off the tee and hitting a lot of 3-irons, Jasmin decided to take driver on 17 after seeing the familiar tree was no longer an obstacle in the fairway. He made an 8-footer for birdie there, then went with driver again on 18 before rolling in his long birdie.

For Marra, it wasn’t birdies coming in – it was coasting in and keeping things level after a potentially disastrous start.

He tripled the first hole after shanking his approach from 140 yards, and he thought he was in for a terrible day. He parred the second and bogeyed No. 3, then stayed steady from there.

The bogey on 18 could’ve been worse after Marra’s chip, his fourth shot on the hole, came up short. He shook off the miscue, though, and drained his bogey try. Despite the rough start, he’s squarely in contention heading into the final round.

“I don’t know. If someone shot 71 today, I feel like I might have to get back to even to feel like I have some chance,” he said. “My goal going into this week was just to get, like, a top-10, just because I don’t play as much golf as probably most of those people. I play, like, maybe two times a month, especially now that it’s football season.

“If I can walk away with a top-five, I’d be thrilled. But I think if I can shoot, like, 4-, 5-under, I’ll have a chance. I can shoot low on the back nine. I’ve done it before, so I just have to do it again.”

Tom Kennaday (74) is in third, three behind Anaclerio. Meldrum is another shot back, followed by Marra, McCullough and Jeremy Greene at 76.

Brooke Hutto (77) leads the Ladies Division by eight shots over Rissa Jarrett. Defending champion Kadi Meldrum is in third after a 91, the same score she had after 18 holes last year before shooting 78 at The Aiken Golf Club on her way to a 14-shot victory.

James Boughner and Jay McDermott share the lead in the Senior Division after each shot 77 for a two-shot advantage over four players, including David Jett. Jett tied for third last year along with Bill Dallis (81).

Bill Beck shot 73 to lead a crowded Super Senior Division after sharing second place last year. Mike McCarthy is one back, and Dale Slack and Scott Petit each shot 75. In all, 14 players are within eight shots of the lead.

Sunday’s tee times begin at 8 a.m. at The Aiken Golf Club, leading up to the final group of Anaclerio, Jasmin and Kennaday at 11:40.