Based on how things were going on the practice range, Jackson Hill wasn't sure what to expect out of the third round of the 101st West Virginia Amateur.
"The club I always use on the first hole on the Meadows Course was the only one that felt loose when I was hitting on the range," Hill said.
Sure enough, he left his opening tee shot short. But he recovered nicely and hit a 5-foot putt to save par.
Things took off from there, and he has a nice view from the upper end of the leaderboard.
Hill shot a 3-under 67 and sits at 2-under for the tournament, and will go into Friday's final round one stroke behind co-leaders Alex Easthom and Pat Carter. The three will tee off together at 11:15 a.m.
Hill began the day at 1-over after a disappointing second round in which he had four birdies and a par through the first five holes, but followed them with three straight momentum-killing bogeys. On Thursday, there might have been a bump in the road, but this time he was able to navigate his way through.
His day started with four straight pars, but that was followed by four consecutive birdies. He also birdied No. 11, and he was in a three-way tie for the lead at 3-under after 12.
"I made a birdie putt on 5 and it was off to the races," said Hill, a 2019 Woodrow Wilson graduate. "Then I had a good look at 9, almost birdied 10."
Things started to get a little dicey with a bogey on No. 12. After a par on 13, he went double-bogey on 14 to slip to 1-under with four golfers ahead of him.
Then a 51-minute weather delay forced everyone off the course. When play resumed, Hill turned it around on 17, hitting his second shot within four feet of the pin. He sank that for his sixth birdie before closing with a par on 18.
Meanwhile, the leaders going into the day struggled.
Marshall senior Noah Mullens had the overall lead, but a 6-over 76 has him at 1-over for the week. Philip Reale and Mitch Hoffman trailed Mullens by a stroke, but Reale also went 6-over on the day. Hoffman shot 3-over for the round and is at 1-under, one shot behind Hill.
The day could not have played out better for Hill.
"I am very blessed," he said. "God has given me the opportunity to try to chase it down tomorrow. Things have really fallen into place."
Carter has himself in familiar territory, and at one point looked as if he was about to pull away. The 13-time Amateur champion birdied three of his first five holes on the back nine to get to 6-under and a three-shot lead, but the weather delay seemed to have an adverse effect. A double-bogey on 15 and bogeys on 16 and 18 — sandwiching a birdie on 17 — finished him at 3-under and tied with Easthom, who made par on his final four holes.
Hill is looking forward to teeing off with Carter, a West Virginia Golf Association Hall of Famer.
"It will be the first time I ever played with him," Hill said. "I'm sure I will be intimidated at first, but I want to see how I handle it."
The tournament returns to the Old White on Friday, and Hill will be looking for a round more complete than the one on Tuesday. He said he needs to give himself a chance off the tee.
"My putter has been hot, so I'm confident if I can continue to give myself some looks," Hill said.
Weather could once again play a factor — there is an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms Friday.
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