Douglas holds lead going into UPGA tourney’s 4th round

Chad Tirschel, of Norway, chips the ball onto the No. 17 green during the third round of the men’s UPGA tournament at Terrace Bluff Golf and Country Club on Friday in Gladstone. (Justin St. Ours/The Daily Press)

GLADSTONE — Bryce Douglas of Gladstone Golf Club gained sole possession of first place here Friday, shooting a 2-under-par 70 on Day 3 of the Upper Peninsula Golf Association Men’s tournament at Terrace Bluff Golf & Country Club.

The University of Detroit golfer, at 4-under-par 212 after three rounds, holds a one-stroke lead over Ishpeming’s Mark Clements going into Saturday’s final round.

“We had an enjoyable day,” said Brian Robinette of Escanaba, who’s third at 214 after hitting 73 on this sunny, mild and breezy day. “Bryce played a wonderful round today. The top 6-8 guys have a shot at the title. It’s going to be fun. I think Day 4 is going to be very interesting.”

Tom LaVigne of Iron Mountain and Norway’s Chad Tirschel are tied for seventh with 220, followed by Northern Michigan University golfer and Ishpeming native Carter Mason and Iron Mountain’s Jim Markell at 221.

Clements, who was two strokes back after Day 2, moved into second by hitting 70 on Day 3.

“The Bluff tends to bring those people who are hitting the ball well toward the top,” Robinette said. “This course doesn’t give you much when you’re hitting the ball crooked. I feel this is a good, strong course right now. I got a little defensive today with my putter. My ball striking was fine. I hit the ball well enough to shoot a decent score and played myself into the final group. A lot of real good players are working their way into the mix.”

This marked the second straight 70 for Douglas, who was a stroke behind Robinette and recent Gladstone High School graduate and this year’s U.P. Division 1 prep champion Rudy Peterson after Thursday’s round.

Fellow Terrace Bluff members Peterson and Matt Argall are tied for fourth at 216.

“I didn’t hit my drives very good and struggled with my putts today,” Peterson said after shooting 75 Friday. “The breeze affected my shots on some holes, although I just wasn’t hitting good shots. I thought I played relatively smart. I didn’t try to force things. I just have to forget about today and try to play better tomorrow. I need to shore up my short game.”

Argall remained consistent with his third consecutive 72.

“I had one bad hole, the same as the last two days,” he said. “I missed a couple putts on the first four holes, although there’s a lot of chances out there. Every hole is a birdie hole. I think I missed three greens which isn’t bad, but everything was 12-15 feet from the pin. Those aren’t easy shots by any means. Yet, you expect to make a few. I struggled with my short game on all three days.

“For some, I’m sure the breeze is a factor, but we’re in the woods. I don’t think it’s that much of a factor.”

Escanaba’s Mark Gauthier’s second straight 73 left him in sixth at 218.

“I’m right there,” he said. “Overall, I played a solid round. I thought I hit the ball off the tee real well. Only, I need to hit a few more putts. I probably missed a few 8-12 footers, but I also hit a few. It all evens out. On (par 4) No. 13 I was thinking birdie all the way. Then, the ball sailed over the green and I hit a chip shot for par. I’ll take that. Playing your own ball for four days is a grind, but it’s all part of golf.”

Play resumes at 8:30 a.m. EDT Saturday, with the first foursome of the championship flight taking off at 10:45, followed by the second group at 11:52 a.m. and the final four at 11 a.m.

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