The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 15, 2013

Ihm takes slim lead, Cazaubon charges to within one stroke

Mike Kovak
mkovak@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — From the way he moves around the course to the way he approaches shots, there’s nothing slow about the golf game of Rodolfo Cazaubon.

So, maybe it’s no surprise that the Tampico, Mexico, native rocketed up the leaderboard Saturday during the third round of the 60th Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament of Champions.

Cazaubon, one of two competitors representing North Texas State, catapulted from 3-over following two rounds to 4-under after he finished the third round with a spectacular 7-under 63 – the low round of the amateur.

He started the day tied for 24th, but moved into sole possession of second place, one shot behind leader Steven Ihm, following 18 holes with seven birdies and no bogeys.

“It always helps to start really good. That’s what gets me moving,” said Cazaubon, who is coming off a fifth-place finish in last week’s Mexican National Amateur. “When I start slow, sometimes I get a little flat and I’m focused on trying to get back.”

Cazaubon displayed razor-sharp focus throughout the round. He birdied four holes – Nos. 3, 5, 7 and  8 – on the front nine and followed with birdies on Nos. 10, 11 and 17.

Word of his four birdies in a five-hole stretch quickly traveled throughout Sunnehanna as the larger galleries followed Ihm, Cory Whitsett and others.

“I’m very happy with how I played. I knew I’d have to get a low number to get back into it,” Cazaubon said. “I was hitting the ball solid all day.”

Cazaubon is surrounded by a trio of golfers who’ve played steady throughout three rounds. Behind Ihm and Cazaubon are Whitsett and Stewart Jolly, each at 3-under.

Ihm entered the round as the co-leader with Tom Lovelady at 3-under, but while Lovelady struggled, Ihm shook off bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6.

“I was a lot more consistent than (Friday),” Ihm said. “I’m definitely in a good mindset. It’s my tournament to win.”

Ihm, who was selected to the Big Ten Conference’s first team out of Iowa, held a three-stroke lead after the first round and shared it with Lovelady after the second.

He’s back to holding the lead by himself.

“I’ve been playing well this week. I prepared for this course,” he said. “You don’t want to get too aggressive here and you can’t make mindless swings.”

Now, he has one round to hold off a confident group in a tournament that remains wide open. Of the favorites coming in, Whitsett is the only one in contention.

“That’s just golf. It’s the nature of the game, especially at a place like this” Whitsett said. “The greens are something else. There’s a lot of tilt. Sometimes, you just have to take your two-putt and move on.”

Whitsett’s putter worked well on the back nine as he sank a couple long ones, including a clutch par save from 20 feet on No. 18.

The putter also worked well for Cazaubon.

“I had some great saves and putted real well,” Cazaubon said. “It’s my first time here, but I’m feeling pretty good. I just have to keep it going.”