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  • Meissner goes low, opens five-shot advantage with 18 to play

  • Mac Meissner has held an end-of-round lead four times in 11 Forme Tour rounds this season.
    Mac Meissner has held an end-of-round lead four times in 11 Forme Tour rounds this season.
  • In This Article
  • BOLINGBROOK, Illinois—Following his second round, Mac Meissner said his goal was to make as many birdies as possible over his final 36 holes of the Bolingbrook Golf Club Invitational.

    So, yeah, that strategy worked out quite well.

    Meissner shot an opening-nine 30—courtesy of six birdies—then added one more, plus an eagle, to shoot a 63, the low round of the tournament. The SMU graduate and PGA TOUR University alum is at 20-under and leads Matt McCarty by five shots and Justin Doeden by six. Meissner’s performance Thursday was in stark contrast to his third round three weeks ago at the Auburn University Club Invitational. In Alabama, Meissner took the lead into the final 36 holes but faltered, with a third-round 75. He said he learned his lesson after that experience: Keep trying to go low. He went out and proved it on a warm Illinois afternoon as he pulled away from a tightly packed leaderboard when the day began.

    “With the competition out here, the guys are going to keep making birdies. I have to keep making birdies just to keep up,” said Meissner.

    His birdie barrage began at No. 2, the start of four consecutive. He then went par-birdie-par-birdie to finish his round and turn in 30. At No. 7, he hit iron off the tee but watched as his ball ran through the fairway into the rough. Into what he called a “tough pin,” he was still able to make birdie. He just missed a birdie at No. 8, a putt from the fringe. He then told his caddie he was going to make birdie at nine, also from the fringe, 25 feet away.

    Meissner poured it in, added an eagle from six feet on No. 10 and buried an eight-foot birdie at 11. Suddenly, Meissner, who was playing in the Walker Cup 10 weeks ago and with a mere two professional starts under his belt, was 9-under.

    “I think in college golf, I struggled a little with going low. The courses were tough in college that we played, but I just never was really able, once I got it going to keep it going,” he explained.

    That same thing happened to a degree over his final seven holes as Meissner made nothing but pars after his white-hot start. By then, though, he had already inflicted serious damage on Bolingbrook Golf Club on a hot, humid day with the temperature 17 degrees warmer than the day before.

    “The holes are a little tougher coming in. I just didn’t get many putts to roll in as I was coming down the stretch after I had been pretty hot to start,” he added.

    McCarty remained in shouting distance of Meissner with a 7-under 65 that isn’t even his low round of the week after he opened with an 8-under 64 Tuesday. Only an even-par 72 in the second round has kept him from putting more pressure on Meissner. The former Santa Clara Bronco made four consecutive birdies, starting at No. 2, and added five more, along with two bogeys, to sit in second place.

    [Wednesday] I didn’t really play bad. I just couldn’t get anything going,” McCarty said of his second round. “I kind of cleaned it up a little today.”

    Cleaning up also meant making a birdie at No. 18 to narrow Meissner’s advantage to five shots. “It was a little bumpy on the back nine,” he said of his performance, “but it was nice to finish with a birdie.” At the closing hole, he stuffed his approach to three feet and rolled in the putt.

    Assessing his chances Friday, McCarty, who shot a 59 two weeks ago at the Wyoming Open, knows he’ll need something low as he doesn’t expect Meissner to let up.

    “I’ll try to get after it early and give myself a chance at the turn and see if I can chase him down,” said.

    McCarty will have a front-row seat, along with Doeden, playing alongside Meissner. The threesome tees off at 10:01 a.m. CDT.
    Did you know Mac Meissner played on the winning U.S. Walker Cup team that defeated Great Britain and Ireland, 14-12 two months ago? Meissner, an alternate, played in one match, joining forces with Ricky Castillo to defeat the team of Jack Dyer and Matty Lamb, 2-up, in foursomes at Seminole Golf Club in South Florida.

    Key Information

    • The biggest 54-hole lead in this young season is only one shot. Alexandre Fuchs and Peyton White shared the third-round lead at the L&J Golf Championship at Jennings Mill Country Club, and Philip Knowles was a stroke ahead at the Auburn University Club Invitational. Only Knowles was able to convert his advantage into a victory.

    • Mac Meissner has held an end-of-round lead four times in 11 Forme Tour rounds this season. At the Auburn University Club Invitational, Meissner was in a two-way tie for the 18-hole lead then had the solo advantage at the halfway point. This week, he’s led after the second and third rounds.

    • Luke Schniederjans has steadily improved as the week progressed. Coming of a tie for 11th last week on the Korn Ferry Tour in Springfield, Illinois, Schniederjans kept his prowess in The Land of Lincoln going with a 6-under 66 Thursday. He opened 72-68 and currently sits at 10-under through 54 holes. He’s tied for 15th.

    • With his 66, Luke Schniederjans put himself in position for another top-10 finish this season. He’s tied for third and tied for ninth in his two previous starts. Clay Feagler will need a low round Friday if he entertains hopes of earning another top-10. He’s currently tied for 24th following a 2-under 70. Schniederjans and Feagler are two of four players with top-10s in each of the first two tournaments. The others are Quade Cummins and Alex Smalley. Cummins is not playing this week—in action on the PGA TOUR, at the 3M Open, while Smalley missed the cut.

    • Mac Meissner—given name of McClure—has played two Forme Tour events and one PGA TOUR tournament, and that makes up the sum total of his PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour experience. He missed the cut at his hometown event in San Antonio earlier this year, missing the cut at the Valero Texas Open. Meissner tied for 71st and tied for 18th in his first two starts.

    • With an eagle on his opening hole, No. 10, Michael Johnson got his day off to a great start, and he made a giant move on the scoreboard with his 7-under 65. He was at 8-under through 17 holes but made a bogey to close, finishing with the 65. Johnson is tied for 15th. He moved up 44 spots Thursday.

    • The next-best leaderboard jumper Thursday was Canada’s Will Bateman. He began the day tied for 46th and moved into a tie for 11th with his 7-under 65.

    • The toughest hole at Bolingbrook Golf Club was the par-4 17th, with a stroke average of 4.083. The par-3 13th had the fewest birdies (nine), followed by holes 4, 7, 8, 1 and 18 all yielding 10 birdies.

    • The easiest hole was No. 10. The par-5 played to 4.347, with six of the eight eagles Thursday occurring there. The other eagles came at No. 3 and No. 5.

    • Charlie Netzel is a native of Western Springs, Illinois, 20 miles from Bolingbrook. The Michigan State alum, who attended Lyons Township High School, turned in his third consecutive 69 and is at 9-under, tied for 24th.

    Quotable

    “It was pretty solid all around. I hit a lot of good drives, I was in the fairway a lot and it made it a lot easier for me attacking those pins today. I felt like I had a lot of good distances into the greens to where I could be aggressive and swing hard. That’s what you need into those greens just because they’re a little bit firmer.” –Mac Meissner

    “I do have a five-shot lead, but I don’t want it to get close. I think one of the goals [Friday] is to make [the lead] bigger. As maybe cocky or annoying or cliché as that sounds, I think one of the things I’ve learned from maybe a guy like Tiger Woods or those guys who have succeeded on the professional Tours is when they get up they don’t let up. That’s the mentality you have to have to succeed.” –Mac Meissner

    “I was able to work some shots into some of those tougher pins and get a couple close and steal a couple.” –Mac Meissner
    “I missed a couple coming down the stretch, but you really can’t ask for much more.” –Mac Meissner on his seven-par finish to his third round

    “I fought back. I was out there playing with a guy who was 9-under through 11, so it didn’t feel like I was playing very well.” –Justin Doeden

    “I’m still in it. I’m probably going to need 62 tomorrow, but I’ve put one out there in previous events, so I know I can do it.” –Justin Doeden

    “Eighteen holes of golf left. We’re going to have some fun [Friday]. Mac’s a good kid, and I don’t know McCarty at all. We’re going to have some fun.” –Justin Doeden

    “The wind totally switched, it was 15 degrees hotter and the humidity was up today. The course was definitely tougher today.” –Justin Doeden

    “I thought I played solid today to shoot 4(-under). I hung in there. That was a big part of the day.” –Justin Doeden

    “This golf course, the rough is up, and I know they’re going to tuck the hole locations [Friday].” –Byron Meth

    “If you miss short-sided, you’re probably not going to make a great number and grinding for par, at best.” –Byron Meth

    No. 12 played completely different than the day before. We had to shift our line way left. It was a little hot and humid, the course firmed up and you had to shift your lines.” –Byron Meth

    “It’s just a matter of shooting as low as possible, and if I happen to rattle off an 8-, 9-, 10-, 11-under, something like that, and [Mac Meissner] shots 2- or 3-under, then maybe. But when someone is 20-under par through three rounds, that’s great playing.” –Byron Meth

    Third-Round Weather:
    Overcast and much cooler. High of 89. Wind NE at 7-9 mph.