Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

August 12, 2012

Hankins leads the Pocahontas

BLUEFIELD, Va. — For the second consecutive day, Donnie Hankins toured the Fincastle Country Club course relatively unscathed.  As a result, he holds a two-stroke advantage entering today’s final round of the 43rd Pocahontas Men’s Amateur Golf Championship.  Hankins backed up his opening round 68 with a steady 71 under picture postcard conditions on Saturday and he enters today’s final round with a two-shot lead.

“I was pleasantly surprised again today,” said Hankins, who recently moved from Tazewell to Bristol.  “I hit my driver well all day, but this course is a real test.  There’s such a fine line between shooting a 70 and a 78 here—a couple of mistakes can ruin a good round.”

His closest competitor after 36 holes is Lelbanon High School teacher Ben Campbell, who put together a one-over par 71 after opening with a 70 on Friday.  His Saturday round included a hard-to-come-by birdie on 18, one of the most demanding holes on the course.  He is two shots behind the leader.  

Another shot back, three off the pace, is Buck Brittain.  After a 73 on Saturday, Brittain reflected on his round.  “I hit a lot of good shots (reaching 15 greens in regulation), but I didn’t make any putts,” the 1999 Pocahontas champion recounted.  A bogey on 15 and double bogey on  16 kept him from posting a better round.  “If I keep hitting it well and start to make a few putts, you never know what might happen,” he added.

Fifteen-year old Matt Brittain is in fourth place (four shots back) after carding a 71 on Saturday.  After making the turn at one-over for the round, he sandwiched a birdie on 17 between a pair of solid up-and-down par saves on 16 and 18.  Drawing on the lessons learned from his experience at the 2011 Pocahontas, he observed, “I’ve played the course a few more times, and I’m more confident this time around.”

Seven-time Pocahontas champion Todd Satterfield recovered from an outgoing five-over par 40 with a four-birdie back nine, shooting a 73 to share fifth place (five shots off the lead) with Nick Dent, whose even par 70 was Saturday’s second-best round.  “I tried to play smart, stay patient, and hit good shots,” Satterfield said.

For Dent, a pair of back nine birdies enabled him to match par during a solid day’s work.  The Bluefield State College golf standout observed, “I hit it well, tee to green.  Tomorrow, I hope to putt better.”

Bob Ramsey is six shots back after a 74 on Saturday, and veterans Kevin Leatherwood, Mark Gaynor, and Mark Funderburke share eighth place, seven shots behind Hankins.

The day’s low round and the only subpar round of day was the 69 posted by Chris Wirt, who finished second in the 2005 Pocahontas after losing to Charlie Green in a sudden death playoff.  

Bouncing back from a wrist injury that contributed to his 83 on Friday, Wirt shot a 69 that included an 18th hole birdie.

Nine golfers are within seven shots of the lead entering today’s final round.  The Pocahontas is sponsored exclusively by First Century Bank.

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