Jeff Pope takes a two-shot lead in Augusta City Amateur

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Jeff Pope simply said “red six” when someone asked him what he shot in Saturday’s second round of the Augusta City Amateur.

Translated, the red is for under par, and the six stands for how many strokes under he was.

That’s 66 on the Forest Hills Golf Club scorecard, and it gave Pope the 36-hole lead.

The 46-year-old North Augustan is at 7-under 137, two shots clear of Davis Parker and Shad Tutten heading into today’s final round. USC Aiken golfer Gaines Miliner is next, four shots back of Pope.

Parker had 67 on Saturday with a bogey on No. 18, Tutten shot 70 and Miliner had 72.

Pope, who opened with 71, started Saturday four shots behind first-round leader Jacob Tilton, who went from 67 to 77 and is now seven behind Pope.

Pope’s 66 is the low round of the tournament, which drew 144 starters. It is also the low round in relation to par for Pope in the Regions Bank Amateur Series, where he has won seven times and is the hottest player on
the scene.

“How I played that good today I don’t know – it just sort
of showed up,” said Pope, who has won two of his four starts this year and finished second in the other two.

“I probably hit the ball better than I have in my life.”

Pope had six birdies and never came close to a bogey – his longest par putt was 2 feet. He missed one fairway (No. 11), one green (No. 7) and had 29 putts.

“I’m not that good,” Pope said. “Somehow, I hit every shot right where I was looking.”

Now, he has the chance to win one of the Regions series tournaments that has eluded his grasp. His best finish is a tie for third in 2002.

“I’ve never been in contention after two rounds,” Pope said.

It’s been exactly a year since Pope started playing the Regions series regularly. He tied for seventh place here last year, then won his final two starts. That means he’s won four of his six starts.

For much of the previous decade, Pope didn’t play a full schedule because he wanted to be home with his wife and three daughters on the weekends. The daughters have grown and Pope’s wife, Ginger, encouraged him to start playing again. She normally follows him in the final rounds, and Pope said “she’ll be here” for today’s final round.

Even when he wasn’t playing regularly, Pope would try to play in the city amateur.

“I’ve played in it a bunch,” he said. “I tended to play in this one just because it was the city amateur. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, but if I could pick one to win, this would be it because it’s the city amateur. It seems to be a little bit bigger tournament. It’s a lot bigger field and there tends to be a lot better players.”

In the senior division, consistent Russell Maddox is the new leader.

Maddox, who has shot a pair of 1-under-par 71s, overtook first-round leader Glen Hurt.

Hurt followed his opening 69 with 75 and is now in second place at 144, two shots behind Maddox, who is seeking his first senior win.

Frank Perry (70 on Satur­day), Danny Daniels (70) and Robert Samuels (72) are at 145.


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