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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

McGihon Bounces Into Lead With 68

Golf: He takes one-stroke lead over Cuff into final round of SCGA Amateur today after saving par on 18.

July 12, 1998|PETER YOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MURRIETA — There were fairways, greens, sand traps and tee boxes but the game more closely resembled pingpong than golf in the third round of the Southern California Golf Assn. Amateur Championship on Saturday at the SCGA Members' Club.

Second-round leader Ed Cuff Jr. of Temecula and Scott McGihon of Bermuda Dunes shuffled the lead back and forth for most of the day before McGihon made an unlikely par at the 18th for a round of three-under-par 68 and a one-stroke edge heading into the final round today.

McGihon has a three-round total of five-under-par 208. Cuff, who had a three-stroke lead over McGihon after two rounds, three-putted for bogey three times Saturday and shot 72.

Craig Steinberg of Van Nuys, a four-time SCGA Amateur champion and the defending champion, is the region's closest pursuer at 215 after a third-round 68.

J.T. Kohut of Simi Valley, who led after a first-round 68, had a triple bogey on the 18th hole, a double bogey on the third and stumbled to a 79. He is in a tie for 19th at 221.

Greg Padilla of Del Mar, a senior-to-be at Arizona State, and Mike Samoles of San Diego, a former CIF/SCGA high school champion, are still in contention at 210, but if Cuff and McGihon keep shuffling the lead back and forth the way they did in the third round, it could turn into a match-play tournament very quickly.

"I'm going to try and make sure it doesn't become match play," said McGihon, the only player to shoot under par all three rounds.

"I try not to pay attention to what the other guys are doing. It's too early for that. I just have to do what I can do."

Cuff, who won the match-play California Amateur last month and considers that format his strength, is nervous about his position.

"I would rather have a 10-stroke lead," he said. "But you can't make all of them. This is amateur golf so it didn't cost me any money. My 72 wasn't a bad score. I hit the hole a lot and my 72 could have easily been a 68."

Cuff, while not upset with his play, was a little distraught about his failure to distance himself from the field as he might have been able to do with a sub-par round.

"It wasn't what I wanted to shoot today," Cuff said. "I felt like I could have eliminated some of the field with a real good round.

"But if somebody told me I'd be one shot back heading into the final round, I'd be happy."

Cuff made a three-putt bogey at the par-three sixth hole that put McGihon into a tie. A birdie by McGihon gave him the lead for the first time in the tournament.

The lead changed hands again when Cuff birdied the 11th and McGihon bogeyed the 12th.

Birdies by McGihon at 13 and 14 put him back in the lead, which might have been lost if not for his par at the 18th which easily could have been worse.

McGihon hit into a fairway bunker off the tee and was left without a shot at the green. After laying up 40 yards in front of the green, he hit a pitch shot to within eight inches.

Cuff rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the same hole but McGihon's tap-in par prevented a tie.

"You don't want to give one back on the last hole," McGihon said. "I'm happy with a four there."

Samoles, playing a group ahead of Cuff and McGihon, overcame an erratic front nine in which he had three bogeys and three birdies, and made birdies on 13, 16 and 17 in a bogey-free back nine.

Playing partner Mark Johnson, who has won every major SCGA tournament except for the SCGA Amateur, had birdies at the fourth and fifth holes, but missed eight birdie putts by less than a foot over his next 13 holes.

*

* DOWN, NOT OUT

J.T. Kohut of Simi Valley shot 79 Saturday but said he will go for broke today trying to get back into contention. C10

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