Hot start puts Olsen up three at Junior Invitational

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GRANITEVILLE — Zachary Olsen went to sleep Saturday night with the first lead he’s held in a major junior tournament.

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Robert Shelton is handed a putter by his caddie at the 18th green.  Shelton is tied for second place with Wyndham Clark entering today's final round at Sage Valley.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Robert Shelton is handed a putter by his caddie at the 18th green. Shelton is tied for second place with Wyndham Clark entering today's final round at Sage Valley.

He’ll find out today if he can hold on to a three-shot advantage at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

Olsen, a 17-year-old from Cordova, Tenn., who is bound for Oklahoma State, shot his second consecutive 68 on Saturday. He holds the lead over Wyndham Clark and Robby Shelton.

“I’ve played some local stuff and I was fortunate to win a few local tournaments,” Olsen said. “Hopefully I can take some of that experience. I guess I’ve got to keep the same philosophy.”

Olsen will be chased by a pack of the top junior players in the world. There are 11 other players under par and within seven shots of the lead.

Olsen blitzed his first nine holes Saturday with five birdies. With first-round leader Cody Proveaux struggling, Shelton took the lead and got a taste of what to expect today.

“I knew I was playing with the lead after the first nine,” he said of TV cameramen following him. “That was good

Olsen added a birdie at the par-5 10th and then made pars and only one bogey the rest of the way in.

One of his pursuers today is Clark, an 18-year-old from Greenwood Village, Colo., who is also committed to play at Oklahoma State. Clark birdied three of his final six holes to finish with 70.

“I have to give this one to my putter and short game,” Clark said after he struggled with the rest of his game.

Shelton, who placed 40th in the Junior Invitational a year ago, said he has matured in the past year. The Wilmer, Ala., player is looking at Alabama, Auburn and Georgia Tech for college and has picked up a few wins on the local level in the past year.

Shelton, 16, bogeyed the 18th hole Saturday after his approach spun off the green and his par putt lipped out. He was pleased with his iron play after shooting 68.

“I was sticking everything,” he said. “But I left a few out there.”

North Augusta’s Matt NeSmith made a move up the leaderboard with 3-under 69. At 2-under for the tournament, he isn’t ready to concede just yet.

“I kind of put myself in it, gave myself a chance,” said NeSmith, who is tied for seventh. “I’ve hit it too well for the last (two) days to only shoot 2-under on this golf course. I just want a chance to play well and that’s all I can ask for.”

Augusta’s Greyson Sigg shot 2-over 74 and is at 6-over 150 for the tournament.

Nothing went right for Proveaux, who shot 66 to take the first-round lead. He made double bogey at the par-3 second hole and also made bogeys on both of the par-5 holes on the second nine. At the par-4 17th, he rattled around in the trees en route to making double bogey.

He said a poor warmup session on the range set the tone for his day.

“I couldn’t find it,” he said of his swing.


WHAT: Second annual Junior Invitational at Sage Valley

WHERE: Sage Valley Golf Club, Graniteville

WHEN: Today

WHO: 54 players from 15 countries, including 16 of the top-20 ranked players according to the American Junior Golf Association

TICKETS: $15 (daily ticket), $100 (daily clubhouse badge), children 15 and under free with an adult. Tickets can be purchased at Sage Valley.


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HighSociety 04/22/12 - 02:57 pm
This really an exciting

This really an exciting tournament! Would love to see one of the local kids win.

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