Wayne McKenney hasn’t wasted any time making his presence felt in the senior division of the Regions Bank Amateur Series. In just his second start among the 50-over set, McKenney is among a large group who will battle for the senior title in today’s final round of the Augusta City Amateur at Forest Hills Golf Club.
McKenney, 50, has fired 71-73 and is one shot off the lead of defending champion Glen Hurt (73-70) and Jeff Roberts (68-75), who was the first-round leader.
“I’d love to win,” McKenney said. “I practice a lot and I practice hard. I hope I can do it again tomorrow. I just want to be in the right position. I want to have the opportunity to win and to see if my nerves can handle it.”
The regular division isn’t nearly as tightly-bunched at the top, thanks to the stellar play of Shad Tuten, of Elberton, Ga., and Kelby Burton, who are both 21-year-old college golfers.
Tuten, who will be a senior at Armstrong Atlantic State in the fall, followed his opening 66 with 68 and is at 8-under 134. Burton, already a two-time Regions series winner this season who will be a junior at Kennesaw State, is two shots back after rounds of 69-67.
Former Aquinas golfer John Christian Whyte had the day’s low round, 66, and is in third place, six shots off Tuten’s pace.
Tuten, who has struck for 12 birdies in two rounds, finished in a tie for second place here last year.
“It’s been motivation, for sure,” Tuten said. “I really, really have worked hard. I just want a little bit better finish this year.”
But first, Tuten will have to hold off Burton. They were paired together Saturday and will be in the final group today.
“He played really well,” Burton said. “We’ll go at it again tomorrow. I’m getting a lot better so we’ll see what happens.”
If McKenney expects to win the senior division, he’ll have to beat most of the top seniors in the series. He shares third place with 20-time senior division winner Kenny Larry (74-70), Rob Bissell (74-70) and Danny Daniels (72-72), of Kingsland, Ga.
McKenney’s son, Adam, won twice in the regular division. Wayne’s best finish in 20 years, however, was a “seventh or eighth,” he said.
The shorter senior tees have helped him be more competitive. McKenney has also putted well this week, making at least one long putt (a 25-footer Friday and 40-footer on Saturday) in each round. Now he wants to be part of the first father-and-son team to be Regions winners.
“It would be a lot of fun,” McKenney said. “I saw how much fun it was for my son to win.”
All the seniors near the lead agree it will take a under-par score (70 or below) today to win.
“That 20-win guy is the favorite,” Hurt said, referring to Larry. “Everybody is looking at Kenny.”