Hossler joins Murray atop Southern Am

Hossler joins Murray atop Southern Am

July 18th, 2014 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Golf

Grayson Murray of Raleigh N.C. prepares to tee off on No. 4 Thursday at the Honors Course at the 108th Southern Amateur Championship.

Grayson Murray of Raleigh N.C. prepares to tee...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

It's been less than a week since Beau Hossler has played in the final group after 36 holes of a significant amateur golf tournament.

He'll be there again today -- and if he has his way, again Saturday.

Hossler, who burst on the national scene as a high schooler when he was tied for eighth in the 2012 U.S. Open, shot a 4-under-par 68 Thurday at The Honors Course. His eventful round earned him a share of the midpoint lead in the Southern Amateur with first-round leader Grayson Murray at 6-under 136.

"I'm playing well," said Hossler, who won the Southern California Amateur on Sunday. "For me, it's about shorter clubs off the tee and being in the fairway, and it's a matter of getting committed on the tee shots out here."

A poor tee shot on No. 15 that rested below the bass in Lake Lupton resulted in a double-bogey. He made two bogeys also, but he rolled in eight birdie putts, including four on his last six holes.

"On every hole out here, there's a miss that's absolutely dead," he said. "I'm hitting it well. I'm putting well."

Murray had a much more mundane round of even-par 72. He and Hossler will be grouped with Will Starke of Chapin, S.C., in the final group off No. 1 today at 9:30 a.m. Starke, whose father played at Furman with Brad Faxon and Chattanooga native Jeff Sherrill, shot a 69 and is one stroke behind the leaders.

Alex Cusumano of St. Louis shot a 68 and is 4 under for the tournament, tied with Trevor Cone of Virginia Tech for fourth place, two off the lead. M.J. Maguire from the University of North Florida and Joshua Munn of New Zealand are three off the lead.

Chattanooga's Keith Mitchell shot a 74 and is 5 over for the tournament. He's the only one of five area participants to make the cut of the top 66 and ties -- 77 players at 7 over or better.

"I've been very patient and not trying to force the issue," said Starke, who essentially traded baseball for golf when he was 13 years old. "I'm taking what the course gives me, and I played pretty well."

Starke also hasn't let the Honors get the best of his mental approach, as it's done for many in the field and many more since its opening in 1983.

"I wasn't necessarily a club-thrower, but I'd let one bad shot affect my next," Starke said. "I've been working on my attitude on the course and trying to stay patient. I've made a lot of improvement on that in the last two years."

Murray played a patient round to maintain a spot atop the leaderboard. He made two birdies and two bogeys, including on No. 9, his last hole of the day. He didn't gain strokes on the field -- he led by two after 18 holes -- but only Hossler and Starke climbed closer to his lead.

"I was just playing for par on way more than half the holes," said Murray, who is transferring to Arizona State and will be eligible in the spring semester. "Yesterday, I was in a zone and went after almost every pin. Today, I hit it toward the fat part of the green."

Murray's approach may have been planted by a text sent by his father. Murray paraphrased: "If you don't play your best, you're still in it."

He's still in the lead. But he's sharing it.

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.