The leader... Rising Virginia Tech sophomore and Tazewell native Garland Green putts during the 39th annual Pocahontas Amateur held Saturday at Fincastle Country Club. Green has a five stroke lead going into today’s final round.

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Tazewell’s Garland Green backed up his opening round 66 with another four under par 66 on Saturday, putting himself five shots ahead of his closest competitor after 36 holes in the 39th annual Pocahontas Men’s Amateur golf championship at Fincastle Country Club.

Back-to-back birdies on the second and third holes Saturday helped Green to a quick start for the second straight day, and combined with three birdies in a four hole stretch on the back nine to move him from one shot behind first round leader, Dr. Jack Allara, to five shots ahead.

“I hit the ball fairly well, and my putter saved me a few times today,” Green said.

Allara used a deft touch around the green to card a 72, one day after his 65 on Friday. “I thought the course was a little more difficult today,” he commented. “I had to grind it out and I had a lot of up-and-down par saves.

Lanto Griffin drained a 50 foot side-hill putt for eagle on the par five 17th hole en route to his second consecutive 69 and a two-day 138. He sits in third place, six shots behind Green.

“I wanted to be within a couple of shots at the end of the round, but a hit a few poor shots on the back side,” the Virginia Commonwealth golfer related. “The birdie on 17 really helped.”

Rick Fricke sits alone in fourth place after Saturday’s 71. His even par 140 through 36 holes is eight shots off the pace.

“It was another good day,” he observed. “I played smart, kept it on the fairway, and didn’t get too aggressive.”

Former Pocahontas champion Buck Brittain and defending Pocahontas champ Hampton Ballard share fifth place. Both sit 10 shots back of the lead at 142 following Brittain’s 72 and Ballard’s 68 on Saturday.

“I was able to putt better today,” Ballard explained. “I stayed away from the mistakes of yesterday.”

There have been only nine sub-par rounds in this year’s Pocahontas, and Green owns two of them. Entering Sunday with a five-shot lead, he’s relying on the experience of several tournaments when he has been at, or near, the top of the leader board going into the final round.

“I’m comfortable because I’ve been in this position before and I’ve learned something each time. I know my game a little better as a result.”

The field has been trimmed to the low 60 scores for today’s final round.

The Pocahontas Men’s Amateur is sponsored by First Century Bank.

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