The Honors Course felled one contender from the Southern Amateur on Friday, and Beau Hossler rose above the rest by at least two strokes heading into the final round today.
Hossler, a sophomore at Texas, shot a 2-under-par 70 in a steady rain and is 8 under through three rounds. He leads Trevor Cone of Virginia Tech by two and Will Starke by three.
"Today was a brutal grind," Hossler said. "It seemed like every time we got to the hard holes, the rain would pick up. You just have to play through it."
Grayson Murray, who owned the first-round lead and shared the second-round lead with Hossler, had enough after 16 holes and a tee shot Friday.
Murray, who is transferring to Arizona State from Wake Forest, missed a short putt on the first hole and never recovered. He made nine bogeys in the 16 holes he completed and birdied four.
Following three straight bogeys, he pushed a tee shot on the par-5 17th to the right and into tall grass. About 20 spectators helped him look for the ball. Before his five minutes expired, he announced that he was done. He told Hossler, "Good luck." Then Murray zipped up his bag, speed-walked across the 18th fairway and fled to his car.
"He's done stuff like that before," said Cone, a fellow North Carolina resident. "At this point, at his age, you'd think he'd be a little smarter than that. That's not the right thing to do."
Southern Golf Association executive secretary Buford McCarty politely declined further comment about Murray, who shot 6 under in the opening round.
The tournament certainly will continue without him. Hossler, Cone and Starke are scheduled to begin their rounds at 9:30 a.m. off No. 1 unless weather forces a delay.
"I didn't bring my rain gear this week," Cone said. "I'm out there with just an umbrella and an extra towel. I don't wear a glove, so it's important to keep the grips dry."
Hossler said he made it through most of the round without the rain impacting his game or his score. But an errant tee shot on No. 17 -- resulting in a bogey -- might have resulted from water on the club face of his driver.
"It slid right off the face," he said. "Wet-faced drivers are hard to hit straight."
Hossler had a little room for error on the scoreboard after No. 9. He didn't need his putter. Hossler, who grew up in Mission Viejo, Calif., holed out from 100 yards away with a 56-degree wedge.
With the pin toward the front of the green, and water in front of that, Hossler's shot hit about 10 feet beyond the hole to the right and spun back into the hole.
"I was trying to hit something that didn't have too much spin," Hossler said. "It was a little bit of cushion to know that I can make a bad swing. It allowed me to free up a little."
Cone, the closest contender to Hossler, shot a 2-under 70 with four birdies and two bogeys. He shot 35 on the back with eight pars and a birdie on the 175-yard No. 16 which is all-carry over water.
"It was pretty steady after the front side," Cone said. "I was having to scramble for pars on the front. I thought that if I got it back under par on the back that I'd have a chance tomorrow."
That chance arrives at 9:30, barring weather and without the early leader to worry about.
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.