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As the sun and clouds battled for command of the skies and the temperatures steadily climbed, a family feud intensified in the second round of the 40th Larry Pittman Memorial/Wilson County Junior Golf Championship over the wet par 36-36—72 Wedgewood Public Golf Course on Tuesday.
Twins Drew and Nate O’Neal shared the Boys Ages 13-14 lead after Monday’s first round at Wilson Country Club, but Drew, the bespectacled left-hander, separated himself from his sibling by six shots with a sparking 37-38—75 in Tuesday’s second round.
Drew enters Wednesday’s final round at Willow Springs Country Club at 88-75—163, trailed by Nate at 88-81—169. The 13-year-old twins are the sons of Beddingfield High athletic director and golf coach Jody O’Neal.
Still in the 13-14 hunt is Noah Joyner at 90-81—171. The long- and accurate-hitting Joyner, even with a 3-wood off the tee, has been playing golf for only 1 1/2 years and speaks of playing baseball with the O’Neal twins.
The twins anticipated a shootout and Drew, who ended his round with a birdie at No. 18, remarked: “We figured it would be pretty close all the way.”
Nate had heard about all he wanted to hear about the round. With a negative or positive shake of his head, Nate indicated the twins don’t pull for one another and, if he doesn’t win, he hopes Drew doesn’t win. Then he later amended that thought, saying he hoped Drew won if he didn’t. Nate birdied No. 3.
“It was good,” Drew described his round. “I wish I would have a lot more like it. My putting was a lot better and my driving was actually straight — and it resulted in a good score.”
An emphatic fist pump followed his birdie at No. 18.
“It was great; that putt was probably one of the longest I made all day. It felt good to see it go in,” Drew said.
Of his six-stroke margin with 18 holes remaining, Drew responded: “ I don’t know; it could change. But it’s always good to know I have the lead.”
Of battling twins, Joyner assured: “It’s definitely harder beating them that beating somebody else. But I enjoy playing with them the most because they play fast. Everybody else is slow.”
HERRING IN CHARGE
In the other boys age groups, Jake Herring, a rising sophomore at Fike, took charge in pursuit of 17-18 supremacy and medalist or overall champion with a round of 74 that included three birdies; Ethan Boyette fired an even-par, nine-hole round of 36 to continue the class of 11-12; Ryan Richardson, a rising junior at Fike, lowered his score 10 shots to stretch is 15-16 lead to 13 shots; and the Allegood brothers, Samuel and Luke, opened comfortable leads in 9-10 and 8-Under, respectively.
With rounds of 77-74—151, the 15-year-old Herring extended his 17-18 margin to 19 shots against Adam Dermer, a rising senior at Hunt, who put together an 84-86—170.
“I feel OK,” Herring, the 3-A Big East Conference Player of the Year this spring, said. “I’m just playing like crap.”
Herring ended his round with a bogey at No. 18 — where a quadruple bogey cost him the overall championship last year.
“Yeah, I thought about it,” he acknowledged with a slight chuckle. “It was just a bad swing (that resulted in Tuesday’s bogey at No. 18).”
Dermer, four shots ahead of Johnathan Hendricks (87-87—174) for second place, continues to reap the benefits of a stronger focus on golf.
“I am just wanting to play collegiately somewhere,” he explained. “This was my home course and I should have done better. I brought it back some on the back nine; it was just really wet. And going from the greens at Wilson Country Club to here is a lot different.”
Dermer adds his final-round goal at Willow Springs is to “go under 80, hopefully.”
In 11-12, Boyette’s even-par round included a birdie at No. 11 and a bogey at No. 17. He improved his score three shots at, at 39-36—75, and owns a whopping 24-shot cushion against Cameron Ratliff (52-47—99). Brayden Joyner slipped from second to third at 48-47—105.
“My putter started working earlier,” Boyette, who idolizes PGA superstar Jordan Spieth, reasoned. “The only thing that hurt me was that one putt (on No. 17).”
Samuel Allegood added a five-hole round of 23 to his opening 22 for a 45 total and a six-shot lead against Joseph Butts, the first-round co-leader with Samuel Allegood at 22-29—51. Third is Colby Kennedy at 24-30—54.
Luke Allegood, in 8-Under, shaved four shots off his first-round score to set the pace at 30-26—56, followed by Bowman Smith at 29-35—64 and 4-year-old Thomas Layton at 33-33—66.