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Sunday, July 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Derek Berg maintains two-shot lead at Rosauers Open

In this July 18, 2014 file photo, Shane Prante hits his approach shot on No. 10 during the Rosaueers Open at MeadowWood Golf Course in Liberty Lake. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
In this July 18, 2014 file photo, Shane Prante hits his approach shot on No. 10 during the Rosaueers Open at MeadowWood Golf Course in Liberty Lake. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Derek Berg had a wonderful ball-striking round Friday, missing just one fairway and one green.

Saturday wasn’t nearly as easy, requiring stroke-saving scrambling and some timely putts.

Still, Berg ended the day where he began, with a two-shot lead in the 30th Rosauers Open Invitational at Indian Canyon.

Berg carded a 4-under 67 to move to 12 under for 36 holes. The chase pack at 10 under includes North Idaho College coach Russell Grove (66), Lewiston amateur Jason Molner (67) and 2012 champion David Phay (66).

Shane Prante (pro at Lake Spanaway in Tacoma), John Cassidy (teaching pro at The Home Course in DuPont, Washington) and Bob Rannow (pro at Ocean Dunes Golf Links in Florence, Oregon) share fifth place at 9 under.

Berg was 12 under through 27 holes and had it to 13 under before making his first bogey in two days, on No. 9, his final hole.

“It was pretty flawless (Friday) so it was real easy,” the 36-year-old former Washington Husky said. “I had to grind a little bit more (Saturday). I saved par two or three times when it really looked like I was going to make bogey and made a couple of really good birdie putts.”

Berg, an assistant pro at Sahalee in Sammamish, Washington, has been a fixture on the leaderboard of the PGA Pacific Northwest Section majors. He led the Washington Open after two rounds and finished a distant second to Grove at the Oregon Open.

“I feel like I have a pretty good game plan for the course,” Berg said. “If you hit good tee shots out here, it’s easy. You get in the trees on a few holes and all of sudden those easy holes become tough holes.”

Grove has had two interesting tours of the 6,255-yard, tree-lined course. He rattled off birdies on 2, 3 and 4 to fuel a 3-under 32 on the front. He drained a 25-foot eagle putt on the par 5 12th, but made bogeys on 14 and 15.

He closed strong with birdies on 16 and 18.

“It was a sloppy two days, honestly,” Grove said. “It was 10 times sloppier (Friday). I was in some bad places and somehow came out with a number.”

Grove saved par on 6 and 8 with nifty chip shots, the latter a downhiller requiring a delicate touch to stay within 5 feet of the hole.

He was cruising along at 5 under through 13 but he three-putted 14 and his approach on 15 plugged in the trap. He had to partially dig it out to identify his ball and then play his next shot away from the pin. He managed to get up and down for bogey.

“It definitely isn’t like how I have been playing,” Grove said. “If I can get back my ball-striking I’ve been rolling the ball really well.”

Molner, who played at Lewis-Clark State College, was 1 over after 10 holes but rallied with birdies on 11, 12, 15, 17 and 18 to earn a spot in the final group.

Berg, Grove and Molner will tee off at 11:35 a.m., preceded by Phay, Prante and Rannow.

Phay, head pro at Whidbey Golf Club in Oak Harbor, Washington, made eight birdies to offset three bogeys en route to his second straight 66.

Four-time champion Corey Prugh (71) and three-time champ Jeff Coston (67) are seven shots back while 2005 champ Ryan Benzel (69) trails by five.

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