Arrow-right Camera


Wind helps create crowded leaderboard at Rosauers Open

One player brought four clubs to the tee box on the 180-yard par-3 eighth hole at MeadowWood, trying to judge how much help he would receive from a strong tailwind.

As one player was preparing to chip onto the 17th green, a cardboard trash receptacle came bouncing across the 18th tee box onto the green, stopping on top of the hole.

The wind had its say Saturday at the 27th Rosauers Open Invitational and the result was higher scores and a crowded leaderboard heading into today’s final round.

Former champions Ryan Benzel and David Phay, two of Friday’s three co-leaders, held their position after carding 2-under 70s on a blustery day. They stand at 9-under 135 through 36 holes, one shot in front of three-time champion Corey Prugh (69) and Coeur d’Alene Golf Club assistant pro Brent Walsh (69).

There are 19 players within three shots of the lead and 28 within four.

“It really got rough on our back nine,” said Phay, who is from Oak Harbor, Washington. “It was hard to figure out what the wind was going to do to your ball. Halfway through our back nine I started having to read putts for the wind. It had to be around 25, 30 (mph).”

The leaders tee off at 11:30 today. The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 80s with 10-15 mph winds.

Benzel, the former Idaho Vandal who lives in Woodinville, Washington, birdied the first two holes with 20-foot putts. He capped a 3-under front nine with a birdie on the 425-yard ninth that was playing into a stiff breeze.

The 2005 champion was still at 3 under when he made six on the 607-yard 16th.

He hit a perfect drive and fairway wood but his approach from 95 yards sailed over the green into deep rough.

Benzel had a stress-free day while shooting 65 Friday. He said conditions Saturday were “hard, but I feel like I played pretty well. I was adjusting all day.”

The wind was howling in the players’ faces on the elevated 18th tee box. Benzel hit driver a tad left and was relieved to see a safe sign from a spotter. He hit 5-wood Friday and was closer to the green.

“I don’t like that tee shot with driver in my hands, let’s put it that way,” Benzel said.

Phay, who started on No. 10, drained a downhill 15-foot putt to eagle No. 12 for the second straight day. He had it to 3-under before making bogey on 18.

His second nine included three pars, three birdies and three bogeys.

“The whole goal is to be in the hunt and the goal has been met so I have a chance,” said Phay, who edged Prugh by one shot to win the 2012 title. “That’s all you ask for.”

Prugh, who started on No. 10, was even through nine holes but closed strong with birdies on 2, 7 and 8.

Amateurs posted the day’s top scores. Richland’s Drew McCullough shot a 63 and sits just two strokes behind the leaders at 137. He’s joined by Joe Harvie, who had one of the day’s three 66s. Rylee Iacolucci fired a 65 and is at 138.

McCullough chipped in for birdie on No. 10 and eagled No. 12. He hit driver and pitching wedge (from 160) to cover the downwind 520-yard par-5 12th. His scorecard on the back nine started with five 3s (5 under).

“I knew I had to go a couple under to make the cut,” said McCullough, who will be a freshman on Wyoming’s golf team this fall. “I just kept within myself and went at the flags and I made a few putts here and there.”