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Prugh pursues record pace

Mitchell makes up no ground with 63

Chris Mitchell was hoping Spokane’s Corey Prugh might show a little more respect – or maybe a little more sympathy – for his elders during Saturday’s second round of the $135,000 Rosauers Open golf tournament.

Especially on the 18th hole, where the 28-year-old Prugh, the first-round leader playing in the same threesome with Mitchell, was faced with an 8-foot downhill putt for birdie on the severely sloped 18th green at Indian Canyon Golf Course.

Instead of exercising the kind of caution Mitchell had hoped to see, Prugh confidently rammed his ball into the hole to cap a second consecutive round of 8-under-par 63 that put him on a record pace and gave him a commanding lead heading into today’s final round of the 54-hole event.

Prugh’s final-hole birdie also left Mitchell, a two-time Rosauers champion and longtime assistant pro at the 6,255-yard, par-71 Indian Canyon layout, marveling at the fact that he was unable to cut into Prugh’s lead, despite also shooting a 63.

“That’s not very nice,” said the 52-year-old Mitchell, a graduate of North Central High School, who is in his 10th year as the head professional at Portland Golf Club. “I shoot my career round here and I gain no ground?

“Like I told Corey, ‘You could have just lagged that putt down there on 18 so I could have a least beaten you by a stroke.’ ”

Prugh’s 36-hole total of 126 is five strokes better than the 131 of Wenatchee amateur Nick Ellis, who shot 66 on Saturday and is alone in second place. Another stroke back at 132 are professionals Chris Griffin from Tacoma and Tim Feenstra from Seattle’s Broadmoor Golf Club.

Mitchell and defending champion Jeff Coston, the only three-time winner of the Rosauers, are tied for sixth at 133.

The 54-hole tournament record is 193, first set by Scott Johnson in 2004 and equaled by Ryan Benzel the following year. Prugh can break it by shooting 66 or better today.

The fact that Prugh, an assistant pro at Manito Golf & Country Club, made his final putt on Saturday came as no surprise to Mitchell, who said, “I’ve never seen anyone putt these greens better than him – other than me when I was about 20. But I didn’t hit the ball as well back then as Corey does.”

Prugh made only one birdie on the first five holes and needed to make a tough 10-foot putt to avoid bogeying the short par-4 third.

“That was actually a big putt for me,” Prugh said of his par-saver on three. “I hadn’t really hit any good shots up until then, and that kind of got me going.”

Prugh went on to birdie six, seven, 10 and 12 and closed his round with birdies on 16 – where he made a 4-foot putt, and 17 and 18 – where he made nice up-and-downs from just off the green.

“I played really well,” he said, adding that it helped having his wife of just four months, Katie, walking with him for the second straight day.

“We’re newly married and we don’t quite have the money yet for her to travel to tournaments with me,” Prugh said. “So it’s been fun to have her be able to be with me here at home. It’s really helps me stay relaxed.”

Mitchell, who is playing in his first meaningful tournament of the year, lasered an 8-iron second shot to within 6 feet of the pin on the 469-yard par-5 second hole and made the putt for eagle. He then went on to birdie the third, sixth, 10th, 12th, 16th and 18th holes to post the lowest official tournament round of his career.

The field was trimmed to the low 65 plus ties – including all amateurs within that ranges – for today’s final round, which starts at 7:30 a.m.