By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Tad Tomblin got the most out of his putter Sunday.
Alan Wharton probably should have left his at home.
And Evan Muscari apparently didn’t really need one on the wind-blown greens of Grandview Country Club in the second round of the 31st annual BNI Memorial Golf Tournament.
Tomblin, shot a 4-under par 68 to take a five-stroke lead over Wharton and Muscari heading into today's final round on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs.
“It was a good day,” said Tomblin, last year’s tournament runner-up. “I hit some errant shots, but again, like (Saturday), I had the putter working. It bailed me out most of the day.”
Tomblin, a Man native now living in Alum Creek, had shot a 7-under 65 Saturday at Pipestem State Park to share the first-round lead with Wharton.
Smooth putting helped him earn seven birdies Sunday to offset three bogeys. The worst was on No. 17, where he knocked the ball over the back of the green.
“I hit a 6-iron around 220 yards and I was trying to hit it 190. It got up into the wind and went forever,” Tomblin said. “That one stung a little bit.”
He holds a two-day total of 133. Wharton and Muscari are at 138.
Wharton, the 2008 BNI champion, double-bogeyed both No. 2 and No. 17 Sunday and finished at one-over, 73.
“I didn’t hit anywhere as well as yesterday,” he said. “My putter wasn’t as hot, either. I had a couple of three-putts.”
The early rain and the windy conditions all afternoon didn’t help.
“It was a tough day. I had some stupid mistakes,” he said. “But it was still a good day on the golf course.”
Muscari, who won the individual Class AA-A golf state championship in 2009 while playing for Wyoming East, had four birdies and shot a 2-under 70.
He said his putting wasn’t really a factor.
“I’ve been hitting the ball great, but I haven’t made a single putt,” he said. “The longest was 12 feet on No. 18.”
He’s had just two bogeys the entire tournament.
“(Saturday) I made an eagle on No. 4, which was only about an 8-footer, and two of my other three birdies were two-putts.”
A pair of two-time BNI winners, Christian Brand and Brandon Reece, are tied with Derek Brooks for fourth place with 139s.
Brand, the two-time defending BNI champion and winner of the 2011 W.Va. Amateur, shot a three-under 69 at Grandview.
“All in all, I guess it was a good day,” he said. “I didn’t really make any long putts, but I had no bogeys and three birdies. I didn’t have any bad holes.”
Reece, a Beckley native, was an even-par 72. He hit one out-of-bounds on No. 12 and suffered a double-bogey, but bounced back with a couple of birdies.
“Every single shot you had to consider what the wind was doing,” he said. “It definitely hurt.”
Brooks, another former Wyoming East golfer, had a 68 at Pipestem. He had shot a 71 the previous day at Grandview.
Josh Arbaugh, third Saturday behind Tomblin and Wharton, struggled at Grandview and finished with a 3-over 75.
“The wind was definitely a factor. I didn’t hit the ball as good today,” he said. “I didn’t putt like I did yesterday. They weren’t falling in (Sunday).”
Arbaugh has a two-day total of 141. Mike Powers, Bruce Wetherholt and Brandon Watkins, who played at Pipestem Sunday, each had 142s.
Brian Anania, who shot a 40 on the back nine, concluded with a 71 and is one of four golfers at 143.
“This was the first time I’ve seen the course,” he said. “I had a couple of doubles that killed me.”
Brandon Waters, who had a 73 at Pipestem, was tied with Anania and former BNI champions Mike Mays and Greg McGraw.
Both Mays and McGraw shot second-round 71s at Grandview.
“Nothing positive, nothing negative,” said Mays, who holds six BNI titles. “I made a few putts and missed a few. Nothing to brag about, but nothing to cry about, either.”
McGraw, who owns four BNI crowns, eagled No. 16 to stay even with his longtime friend.
“Mike and I have a tournament within a tournament,” he said. “The BNI is all about friendships, about family.”
Mays and McGraw agreed that when the WVGA made the BNI a points event, it was a good thing.
“Some of the older old-timers aren’t receptive to the out-of-area golfers coming in, but I think it’s great,” he said. “That’s what the BNI is about — promoting golf in southern West Virginia.”
McGraw added, “I can remember playing many BNIs and going 1-under and being the leader. Now you get the Christian Brands and Tad Tomblins coming in, and with the fields we have, you get 6-, 8- and 11-under. It’s great for the tournament.”
Many of the leaders said they are looking forward to playing today’s third and final round on the famed Cobb Course.
“Glade is one of my favorite courses,” Tomblin said. “I’ll certainly have to drive it a little better than I did (Sunday).”
Brand said the Cobb is his favorite course (“the best greens and a good layout”), while Muscari said it’s the home course for his Concord University team.
“I used to be scared of it because of the fast greens and rough, but now I’m more comfortable,” Muscari said. “I know how to keep out of trouble.”