Jared Lambert will tee off Sunday in the final group as the leader in a PGA Pacific Northwest Section major.
Those are firsts for the 26-year-old from Prineville, Oregon, so Lambert knows nerves are going to accompany him to the first tee at Indian Canyon in the final round of the 32nd Rosauers Open Invitational.
“Absolutely, no question,” Lambert said following a 6-under-par 65 Saturday that pushed him to 11 under through 36 holes. “I’ve shot low scores, I can handle that, but at an event like this, the stakes are a little higher.”
Lambert, an assistant pro at Meadow Lakes in Prineville, has several things going for him. He’s putting well, playing fairly stress-free golf and he dealt with some nerves making an appearance Saturday as he climbed to the top of the leaderboard.
“If I wasn’t nervous, it would mean it didn’t matter to me. This is why we play golf, for the opportunity to do something,” said Lambert, a product of NAIA Corban University. “I just really tried to focus on my breathing, picking targets and keeping the same rhythm walking, swinging, talking, throughout the day.”
Lambert holds a two-shot lead over Liam Kendregan, of Sand Point Country Club in Seattle, and Justin Wiles, from Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Kendregan played the front in 5-under 30 en route to a 65. Wiles birdied all three par 5s and shot a 67.
Four-time champion Corey Prugh (69), Tony Robydek (68) and 2017 champ Brady Sharp (66) trail by three strokes. Ryan Benzel, former Idaho Vandal and 2005 Rosauers champ, and Fairways assistant pro Todd Pence, share seventh at 7-under 135, four shots behind Lambert.
“By the time I tee off (at 11:30 a.m.), I highly doubt I’ll be in the lead,” Lambert said. “You absolutely have to keep that aggressive mind set. You can’t be satisfied with two good rounds. You have to have an aggressive mindset because there’s going to be low scores out there.”
Lambert hasn’t attempted to overpower the 6,255-yard course.
“I only hit six drivers both days and a lot of 4-irons,” he said. “Even with 4-irons, you can have wedges into these greens. If you hit 100-yard shots every hole, it helps. I’m trying to give myself as many birdie looks as possible.”
Prugh, who led by one stroke after an opening-round 65, started on the back side and had three bogeys in his first eight holes. The last of those came at No. 17, when his approach was about 2 yards from being the perfect distance to the back-pin location. Instead, the ball skipped over the green and held up in the rough. His third shot barely reached the putting surface and his putt for par raced about 8 feet past the cup. Prugh made the return putt and followed with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th.
He played his second nine in 3 under with birdies on 2, 3 and 8. He buried a 30-footer that was breaking hard right when it dropped in on No. 8, the tough 224-yard par-3.
“I was happy that I kind of righted the ship, hit some pretty good shots and I probably could have gone a little lower with the shots I was hitting,” said Prugh, golf coach at Community Colleges of Spokane. “I don’t love where I’m at. I’d love to be at 129, but it doesn’t always work that way.”
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