By Mike Meiler [email protected] 15 min ago
LEWISTON — Thomas Walsh is making sure to enjoy his second Porter Cup.
Walking from the 17th green to the 18th tee box Friday at Niagara Falls Country Club, the big North Carolinian took a few swigs of beer before the final hole of the third round.
“I was just trying to relax,” Walsh said. “I was a little high strung there at the end, was just trying to calm down.”
Two shots later, he had birdied 18 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the 60th Porter Cup.
“I might have to start earlier tomorrow,” he joked.
Walsh shot a 3-under 67 on Thursday, moving to 9-under through 54 holes. He’s three strokes up on the field’s top-ranked player, Australia’s Shae Wools-Cobb, and four strokes ahead of Florida’s Tyler Strafaci and fellow Tarheel Ben Schlottman.
Walsh’s second go at the Porter Cup — he finished tied for 11th in 2016 — has been a continuation of some hot play. Last week, he finished tied for fourth at the Players Amateur.
“I had a good college (season),” said Walsh, who won the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Golf Championship in April as a junior at the University of Virginia. “I took some time off after college, kind of got into some bad habits, but I’ve been really grinding lately. … It turned the corner in the Players Am in the final round and I’ve been kind of feeding off that since.”
Walsh entered the third round with sole possession of first place but gave way temporarily to Wools-Cobb, who opened by going 4-under through 10 holes. But Wools-Cobb, ranked No. 30 by the World Amateur Golf Ranking, hit a double bogey on the par-3 12th and ran into some tough luck on 13 to fall back into second.
Wools-Cobb’s third shot on the par-5 13th hit the flag pole and ricocheted back to the farthest part of the green. He three putted for bogey.
“I played pretty nice all day, really,” Wools-Cobb said. “I hit two bad golf shots which kind of cost me.”
Meanwhile, Walsh missed a few opportunities to really pull away. He was 3-under on the front but opened the back with a bogey. He then left birdie putts at the lip on both 13 and 14.
He birdied 16 and bogeyed 17 before the final birdie on 18.
“I left three or four out there easily and I hit some really good shots, and I made a bogey on 10, which it’s not a gimme, but it’s a driver, 20-yard chip,” Walsh said. “And I didn’t birdie a couple easy holes on the front, so there’s a lot of things I can improve on. It wasn’t easy today.”
“I learned a lot at the ACCs this year,” he added. “… I learned a ton about myself and how to get it done, and I ran through all of that today. (I) was running through every situation I went through there and it paid off.”
The tee times for today’s final round have been moved up an hour due to rain in the forecast. The leaders, Walsh, Wools-Cobb and Strafaci, will tee off at 11:50 a.m.
While the leaders gear up for a highly competitive final round, one local player is truly just happy to be there.
Kevin Borowicz, a two-time Niagara Gazette Player of the Year at Grand Island, is playing in his first Porter Cup.
It very nearly didn’t happen.
Borowicz, who goes to school at the University of Central Florida, played in the Florida State Golf Association Amateur Championship from June 21-24, one day before the Porter Cup qualifier.
His flight up that Sunday was canceled, and he couldn’t make his tee time the next day for the qualifier. The Porter Cup representatives told him to show up late anyway, promising an opportunity if someone dropped out.
Then, when he finally did get a flight, his baggage — including his clubs — was lost. He played the qualifier with a set of 13 leftover clubs he found in his parents’ garage.
“I had to go fresh off the plane,” he said. “I started right on the first tee, and I played all right. I had a chance but got off to a slow start.”
Borowicz did not make the cut in the qualifier, but when the Porter Cup committee was looking to fill the final few spots, he was one of the calls.
“It’s awesome,” said Borowicz, who is tied for 53rd and 9-over. “I’ve been having a lot of fun the whole week. That’s the goal, and hopefully I do that again (in the final round).”
60th Porter Cup
Pos Player To Par R1 R2 R3 Total
1 Thomas Walsh -9 69 65 67 201
2 Shae Wools-Cobb -6 70 65 69 204
T3 Tyler Strafaci -4 70 67 69 206
T3 Ben Schlottman -4 65 72 69 206
T5 Kevin O’Connell -3 72 69 66 207
T5 Eoin Leonard -3 70 68 69 207
T5 Will Thomson -3 68 70 69 207
T5 Blake Windred -3 67 71 69 207
T5 Austin Hitt -3 68 68 71 207
T10 Matt Parziale -2 70 66 72 208
T10 Charlie Dann -2 68 69 71 208