Fire­cracker goes to fourth day with three tied for lead

West­lake’s Nolen, TCU two­some are in con­tention to­day

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Doug Smith AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN COR­RE­SPON­DENT

For the sec­ond straight year, the Fire­cracker Open’s Sun­day round went into the evening and ended in dark­ness.

For the sec­ond year in a row, it will be Mon­day be­fore the cham­pion is de­ter­mined.

And for the sec­ond year in a row, Scott Roude­bush is in the mix.

A year ago Roude­bush ended reg­u­la­tion play tied for the lead with Matt Smith. Af­ter six holes of a play­off it was too dark to con­tinue. They re­sumed the play­off Mon­day morn­ing and Roude­bush won on the eighth hole of over­time.

This time, they didn’t get that far on Sun­day. The tour­na­ment that was al­ready short­ened to 36 holes be­cause of Fri­day’s rain fin­ished Sun­day with Roude­bush, Jor­dan Wolfe and Strat­ton Nolen tied at 6-un­der par 136.

Roude­bush, Wolfe and Nolen will tee it up to­day at 10 a.m., for an­other sud­den death play­off.

Roude­bush started Sun­day tied for the lead at 6-un­der 65 with Cole More­land. Wolfe was in a group at 4-un­der 67 and Nolen was an­other shot back at 68.

Among the three in the play­off, Nolen had the best of it Sun­day. The West­lake High School sopho­more turned in a 3-un­der par 68 to fol­low an open­ing round of 68. Wolfe fol­lowed his open­ing 67 with a 69 Sun­day to get in the house at 136 with Nolen, while Roude­bush was still on the course.

Roude­bush clung to the lead most of Sun­day. He made par on the first eight holes but hit his ap­proach to three feet on the ninth to get to 1-un­der on the day, and 7-un­der for the cham­pi­onship.

A bo­gey on the par-3 13th put Roude­bush back to 6-un­der, but he birdied the 14th and made par at 15 to con­tinue to hold the lead at 7-un­der.

On the in­fa­mous par-4 16th, Roude­bush had some bad luck when his ap­proach hit the cart path left of the green and bounced back al­most 100 yards into heavy shrub­bery. He had to take a drop and ended up with a dou­ble bo­gey six and out of the lead at 5-un­der.

Roude­bush re­sponded by stick­ing his tee shot on the par3 17th to three feet and nail­ing birdie to get back to 6-un­der. He nar­rowly missed a 20-foot putt for birdie on the 18th — which would have clinched the ti­tle, but the putt slid by the cup and forced to­day’s play­off.

Wolfe is a 2009 TCU grad­u­ate, a for­mer Horned Frog team­mate of Roude­bush — and a house guest of Roude­bush this week. Nolen was a mem­ber of West­lake’s state cham­pi­onship team last spring and won the 14-and un­der di­vi­sion in the 2009 Texas State Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship.

Twenty-six pay­ers shot un­der par in the open­ing round, and Roude­bush fig­ured it would take 10 or 11 un­der par to win Sun­day.

“If you had told me I would shoot 71 to­day and still be in this, I would have said ‘no way’,” he said. “I thought the birdie at No. 9 would get me go­ing, but then we had a long de­lay at the turn and I just seemed to lose mo­men­tum. None of us re­ally seemed to get any­thing go­ing to­day.”

James Brosher

De­fend­ing tour­na­ment cham­pion Scott Roude­bush chips onto the eighth green dur­ing the fi­nal round of the Fire­cracker Open.

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