EAST PROVIDENCE _ Justin Suh currently is number three in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. This week, he is playing more like number one. Or, perhaps, more like a seasoned professional.
The first team All-American from Southern Cal continued to control the 57th Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club on Friday, recording his third straight strong round, a 2-under 67. His 12-under 195 total through 54 holes equals the tournament record set just last year by fellow All-American Collin Morikawa on the way to winning the championship.
Suh will carry a three-stroke lead into the final round. His closest competitor is a good friend from junior golf days in California, Pepperdine’s Joshua McCarthy. The left-handed McCarthy surged into second thanks to the best round of the day, a 6-under 63 over the 6,732-yard Donald Ross-designed course. Vanderbilt’s Will Gordon (69) and Cincinnati’s Austin Squires (66) are tied for third at 199
With a weather forecast that calls for rain, perhaps getting worse as the day goes along, tournament officials decided to abandon the normal final-round format of twosomes off the first tee. Instead, they will use threesomes off both tees so that the leaders will begin at 9 a.m.
Rain or shine, everyone will be chasing Suh. For three days, he has played as well as anyone ever has in this tournament. He began with birdies on each of the first two holes, led by as many as five and maintained the advantage he has had since his opening 63, all in his first appearance at Wannamoisett. His finish showed how he is going to be tough to beat. His drive on the par-4 18th ended up behind a tree and in deep rough.
“I had 155 yards and tried roping an eight-iron,’’ he related. “The rough caught it and pushed it out to the right.’’ He ended up near the 10th tee about 40 yards from the hole.
“The shot in the rough was gnarly. The whole grain was going into it,'' he said. “ I was lucky enough just to get it on the green.’’ He ended up 10 feet from the hole then made the putt to save par.
He does not plan to change anything in the final round.
“I’m going one shot at a time. That doesn’t change if I’m up by three or down by three,’’ he offered. He will need a 66 Saturday to math Peter Uihlein’s tournament record of 15-under.
“ I don’t know what the record is but it really doesn’t matter what it is. I’m going out there to play my best,’’ he said.
Suh won five tournaments this year for Southern Cal, including the Pac 10 Championship, enough to earn him first-team All-American honors.
McCarthy surged into second thanks to his 63. That included a 30 on the back side. The Pepperdine star was all smiles when it was over.
“I was hitting it pretty good. I was doing everything pretty good,’’ he said.
The honor for wildest round of the day, and perhaps the tournament, went to Frankie Capan III. He made four competitors in the field unhappy. Capan had a 5-over 74 that included only four pars. A Phoenix, Ariz., resident who is headed to the University of Alabama, went 72-65 in the first two days.
He parred the first three holes on Friday, then went bogey, bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey, bogey _ that’s 7-over in six holes _ for a 41 on the front. He was now below the cut line, which had fallen to 6-over. When he began the back side with two more bogeys, he looked as if he was headed home. He parred 12 to end the bogey train.
He then birdied 13 and 14 and 15 and 16 and 17 _that five in a row. He got inside the number by two so that even a bogey on the final hole kept him inside the cut it also meant the four players who finished 6-over were eliminated.
Morikawa, also a first-team All-American this year at Cal and the number one ranked amateur in the world, is not playing as well as he defends the title he won last year. He is at 1-over 208, in a tie for 29th.