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O’Rear Fights Back to Maintain his Lead at the 39th Texas Mid-Amateur

ABILENE – On a day when Ryan O’Rear admittedly wasn’t hitting the ball well, the 2020 Texas Mid-Amateur champion made a late charge on the South Course at Abilene Country Club to regain the lead at the 39th Texas Mid-Amateur. With birdies on three of his last four holes, O’Rear finished Saturday’s second round at 3-under-par 69. That got him to 9-under 135 overall, good for a one-shot lead headed into the final round.

“It was a grind today, but I hung in there and finished strong,” said O’Rear, who won this championship two years ago after trailing by seven shots with 14 holes to play in the final round. “I finally made a couple putts late, that was huge going into tomorrow.”

It’s been an emotional time for O’Rear, whose best friend’s 11-year-old son Jackson was diagnosed with leukemia last week. The former Baylor standout and his caddie are donning custom hats this week that say, “Jackson Strong.”

“You know, we’re just out here trying to have fun,” O’Rear said. “It puts things into perspective when Jackson’s at home dealing with this stuff. He had a good night, and I’m excited to play tomorrow and get home to see him.”

Fort Worth’s Cole Wiederkehr, who shot a second straight 4-under 68 on Saturday, holds second place at 8-under 136. He also mentioned the word “perspective” after he finished playing.

“I’ve played like twice in the last four months and one of those was in Europe,” said Wiederkehr, who played golf at Oklahoma University from 2008-12. “I’ve got a 1-year-old at home, so I’m busy with that. I haven’t had any high finishes in these amateur events since I moved down here from Oklahoma. I think maybe having a kid has freed me up mentally.”

After a bogey on the par-3 fourth hole, Wiederkehr played the next 12 holes at 4-under par. A three-putt bogey on the tough 17th hole dropped him back a shot, but he got it right back with a birdie on No. 18. He briefly held the lead before O’Rear made his late run to overtake Wiederkehr.

“There’s always a spot to miss on every hole,” Wiederkehr said. “I feel comfortable hitting my driver because I know I can miss on one side. I grew up in Tulsa playing on bentgrass greens like this, soft and you can hit it right at the pins. I’m feeling pretty confident on this course.”

Two of the most decorated amateurs in Texas share third place at 6-under 138. Two-time Texas Player of the Year Chris Wheeler from Addison shot a 3-under 69 in the second round and narrowly missed an eagle putt on the final hole. Zach Atkinson, the 2004 Texas Amateur champion and 2013 North Texas Player of the Year, birdied four of his final seven holes to post 2-under 70. They’re both three shots back from O’Rear with 18 holes to play.

Abilene’s Trey Todd sits in fifth place after firing a 5-under 67. Todd grew up playing Abilene Country Club since he was 8 years old. Now 38, he figures he’s played the South Course more than 2,000 times. Todd has won the Club Championship seven times, including five of the past 10 years.

“It’s just the same targets I always play,” said Todd, a two-time West Texas champion. “It’s like that old saying, ‘Just one shot at a time.’ I hit some good shots, and fortunately I got some putts to fall.”

Fifty-seven players survived the 36-hole cut at 5-over 149. That group includes eight of the nine Abilene CC members in the field this week.

The final round of the 39th Texas Mid-Amateur begins Sunday at 8 a.m. For more information, click here.