Josh Stauffer didn't make the cut the first time he played in the West Penn Amateur Golf Championship. One year later, it's his tournament to lose.
Stauffer, a 19-year-old from Bradford, Pa., who is a sophomore at St. Bonaventure, shot a second-round 68 Monday at Butler Country Club to take the tournament lead heading into the final round today.
"I figured if I go in and shoot two even-par rounds, I'd be happy," Stauffer said.
He did even better, posting a two-round total of 138 (2-under par), which gives him a one-stroke lead on Pittsburgh native David Brown, 52, a two-time champion at the event.
"I didn't hit the ball great, but my short game saved me," Stauffer said. "My putting was pretty spot-on."
His work on the greens helped him jump up the leader board after his first-round 70 placed him in sixth. He attributed his improved second round to a drier course.
Thirty-five players from a field of 72 reached the final round, making the cut of 149, or 9 over.
Sean Knapp of Oakmont is in third place with a two-round score of 141. Bo Lustig of Belle Vernon, Rick Stimmel of Pittsburgh and Kevin O'Brien of Wexford are tied for fourth at 142, while six players have a 143.
For Brown, the drier course wasn't necessarily a good thing. He shot a tournament-low 67 in the first round and followed it with a 72.
"[The rain] makes you concentrate a little more, but I don't know," he said. "I can't explain it."
Brown's thoughts for today are the simplest a golfer can have: shoot straight.
"Just got to hit fairways," Brown said. "You can't play golf if you can't hit a straight drive, and that's all I want to do.
"Got to hit some fairways and everything else will take care of itself."
One thing Stauffer will want to do different today is hit more greens. His putting was good Monday, so the key for him will be to save a few strokes with the other clubs.
"I probably hit nine or 10 greens when usually I hit, like, maybe 13 or 14," Stauffer said. "So two or three more greens and I'll be happy."
Last year's champion, Greg Podufal of Erie, won the event with a 3-under 207. This year, he barely missed the cut with a two-round score of 150. Players begin teeing off for the final round at 7:30 a.m.
Nick Veronica: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @NickVeronica.