Fields Grabs 36-Hole Lead at Cabarrus Classic With Bogey-Free 65
By Stewart Moore
Concord, NC – Jack Fields of Southern Pines, NC posted a second-round 65 at the eGolf Tour’s Cabarrus Classic on Thursday to reach 12-under 132 with just one round to play in the 54-hole event. Entering Friday’s final round with a one-shot lead, Fields is in prime position to capitalize on his good play – ideally, walking away with his second win of 2012.
The Cabarrus Classic is the 20th event of the 2012 eGolf Tour season and is being contested this week at Cabarrus Country Club in Concord, NC.
Fields began his week with a 5-under 67 on day one that put him three shots back of the lead through 18 holes and in a tie for seventh entering Thursday’s second round of play. Starting on the front nine of the George Cobb-designed Cabarrus course, the former University of North Carolina star took a few holes to get going, but once he did, he never looked back.
A par at the docile par-5 opening hole gave way to a solid birdie at the par-4 second to move Fields to 1-under for the day and 6-under overall. At the par-5 eighth, he added a second birdie to his card to reach 2-under par, where he turned with an outward nine of 34.
“That something I’ve been working on. When things aren’t going how I’d like them to be going, I have to stay patient,” said Fields, 22. “The greens were good and the conditions were easy, I just wasn’t getting any putts to fall.”
On the back nine, Fields came alive early, posting birdies on Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13 to skyrocket to 6-under for the day and 11-under for the week – one shot clear of the field at the time.
“Last week in Ninety-Six (SC), I had a round where I made five birdies in a row, and I really thought I was going to do it again today,” Fields said. “I just started hitting it close and converting the putts.”
A birdie at the uphill par-4 16th took Fields further into the red at 7-under for the day, but two late stumbles kept the former Tar Heel from distancing himself even further from the field.
A stout approach shot to 3 feet at the par-4 17th resulted in a two-putt par for Fields, who did his best to make up for it at the par-5 18th, where he stiffed his third to 4 feet to set up a likely closing birdie – but his putt burned the lip again. With two near-misses to finish, Fields closed out a second-round 65 that put him at 12-under 132 heading into Friday’s final round, one clear of Peter Malnati of Dandridge, TN.
“It could have been pretty good today, but I can’t be upset,” said Fields. “I played solid golf, and didn’t come close to making a bogey. If I had the option, I’d obviously play like that all the time.”
Fields’ rookie year on the eGolf Tour has been somewhat of a roller coaster, with nine missed cuts in 16 starts entering the week at Cabarrus. However, at the Columbia Open in May, he played brilliant golf, and turned four solid days into his first professional win.
During that magical week, Fields posted rounds of 67-62-72-67—268 (19-under) en route to a one-shot victory over Drew Weaver, Josh Brock and Nick Taylor. The $25,000 first-place prize resurrected a rookie year that began in slow fashion with missed cuts in each of his first two starts.
“I thought I had a great offseason in preparation, but I got off to a bad start and had to really fight just to make cuts,” said Fields of his early events. “I was playing well, my scores weren’t showing it.”
Lengthy sessions with swing coach Scott Davenport helped to put Fields back on track, and allowed him to let the game come to him more on the course. Instead of forcing a good round, he let talent take over – with the Columbia win serving as evidence that his new outlook was paying dividends.
“I decided to stop trying to be perfect and just let it happen. Then I won in Columbia and the same thing started happening again,” he said. “I was able to keep my head up though, and then I started playing some solid rounds, just with my friends. Once I started doing that, I started feeling like I would play well again.”
Four missed cuts in six starts after the win suggested that Fields had stumbled somewhat, but a second-round 65 at last week’s Championship at Star Fort more than validated that he was back on his game. A T20 at Star Fort coupled with a solid month of play in August to prove to Fields that he was ready to win again – perhaps tomorrow.
“I’m not going to let up tomorrow, not at all,” he said. “I felt like I let up a bit last week, but you can’t do that out here. I know if I keep playing well and keep pushing, I have a good chance of winning. It should be fun.”
Malnati, the tournament’s 18-hole leader following an 8-under 64 on Wednesday, held his own in the afternoon wave on Thursday, posting a bogey-free 69 to move to 11-under 133, just one shot back of Fields entering the final round.
Malnati, who has yet to card a bogey through 36 holes, birdied two of his first four holes on day two to reach 10-under for the week, but only made one more birdie on the day (par-5 first) before posting his 3-under effort.
The former University of Missouri standout is nearing the end of a stellar year on the eGolf Tour, with a win at the Championship at Wintergreen Resort and over $53,000 in earnings to sit at No. 8 on the tour’s money list. Prior to notching his first tour win at Wintergreen, the easy-going Malnati had near misses with a T2 effort at the Championship at St. James in April and a solo-third-place finish at the Willow Creek Open in May. He held the lead entering the final round in each of the three tournaments, but will have to come from behind on Friday in order to secure win No. 2 at Cabarrus.
Over his last 37 rounds on the eGolf Tour, dating back to his third-place finish at St. James, Malnati has posted just three rounds over par, with 19 of the 37 rounds being in the 60s.
Wills Smith of Savannah, GA, Chip Lynn of Lillington, NC and Stefan Wiedergruen of Wablingen, Germany are tied for third, two shots back of Fields at 10-under 134.
Final-round play in the Cabarrus Classic will begin at 8:00 AM on Friday morning at Cabarrus Country Club.The tournament is open to the public and free of charge.