Hill takes commanding lead into final round at San Juan Open

Calm conditions lead to lowest rounds of tourney

Karl Schneider
Farmington Daily Times
  • Calum Hill will take a seven-stroke lead into Sunday's final round.
  • Derek Tolan and Braden Baer posted the lowest rounds of the week with seven-under 64s.
  • Steven Kupcho made an afternoon charge to get to eight under and sits alone in second place.
Calum Hill eyes his putt during the first round of the San Juan Open on Thursday at the San Juan Country Club in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — All the buzz at the San Juan Country Club swirls around Calum Hill.

The young Scotsman, just one year removed from college graduation, holds a commanding seven-shot lead heading into Sunday's final round of the San Juan Open.

Hill fired a six-under 65 to move to 15 under for the tournament during today's third round when calm winds gave players a break from the tough conditions that tormented them the first two days.

"It was so much easier," Hill said of the course without the wind. "Every yardage plays to it, and the wind wasn't a factor. You're just trying to throw darts out there and make some putts."

Hill has been atop the leaderboard after each round. He was tied with two others after the first round and held a five-shot lead after Friday's round.

Making a charge in the afternoon, when the wind picked back up, was Steven Kupcho.

Kupcho, who was tied for the lead after the first round, shot his second five-under 66 of the tournament to put him into second place at eight under.

The ideal conditions in the morning led to the lowest scores of the tournament with Derek Tolan and Braden Baer posting seven-under 64s.

Tolan's 64 launched him into a tie for fifth with Ray Beaufils, who shot 65 today, at five under.

While today's conditions made for lower scores, the course proved to be as frustrating as ever with some tough pins and fast greens.

"It's been a struggle all week with the greens," said Andy Connell, who was tied for second after Friday but shot a two-over 73 today to fall 13 shots back. "I'm missing a lot of 3- and 4-foot putts, and it's really hard to play golf when you're doing that."

With Hill so far ahead, the field will need him to move backward on Sunday and hope to string together birdies in order to challenge for the title. Sunday's forecast is calling for similar weather as today, which should give the field a chance to post low scores.

However, Hill has shown no signs of slowing down, moving to the practice facilities at the course almost immediately after wrapping up his round.

"I'm going to eat something, then go practice until it gets dark or I feel ready," Hill said. "There's no such thing as a big enough cushion."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.