McDaniel maintains lead at AZ Publinks Championship

David McDaniel of Tucson shot a second round one-over par 71 and maintains his three-shot lead heading into the final round of the Arizona Publinks Championship at Randolph North Golf Complex. For the two rounds, he stands at five under 135. Two-time former champion Steve Dallas of Mesa shot a two-under 68 and Dean Hall of Avondale, posted the low round of the day at five-under 65 and are tied for second at two-under par 138. Bill Berkeihiser of Oro Valley and Garrett Moss of Santaquin, Utah are tied fourth at even-par 140. Defending champion Michael Wog II of Scottsdale improved from his opening round one-over 71 and shot a two-under 68 and stands alone in sixth at one-over 141, six shots off the pace. Two-time past champion Ken Kellaney of Phoenix and Paige Peterson of Chandler are tied for seventh at two-over 142. Having been the runner up at the championship the last two years, McDaniel, 24, is in good position to capture his second AGA major championship. “I think given the last two Publinks, I could have won both of them,” McDaniel said. “It’s really not a matter of knowing how to win, when you are in contention a lot, you are going to win some and lose some. I have won some close ones and lost some close ones and it depends on how the other guys are playing. I felt comfortable in those tournaments, but didn’t end up winning.” After an opening round six-under 64, he struggled a bit on Saturday afternoon as the conditions deteriorated. He started with a strong front nine with birdies on the third and sixth holes, but had difficulty on the back nine with three bogeys. “I made a couple of bogeys on the back nine, but it got windy in the afternoon, which was a bad break and it was hard to make birdies,” he said. “I had some good par saves, some sloppy bogeys, but that is going to happen and I’m not too upset about it.” Heading into the final round he says, “three shots is not a lot, but it’s better to have a couple of shots to play with and I’ll have to play solid tomorrow.” A victory would certainly be welcomed especially with the limited golf he has played this year. “It would be a nice win, since I haven’t played a lot of golf this year,” McDaniel said. “It would be just a good start to the year. I don’t love where my game is. It’ll be interesting to see if I can hit the shots under pressure and it’ll be interesting to see what happens.” Hall, 33, a superintendent at the Golf Club Estrella lit up the course with a blistering six-under 29 on the front nine with four birdies through the first six holes. After making the turn, the back nine posed tougher, as he posted a one-over 36. “It was a tale of two nines,” Hall said. “I hit the ball pretty good on the front nine and was close to the hole, without really trying hard. Then you try to turn it on the back nine thinking about the 29 and I actually bogeyed three of the first four holes. I got two late birdies to get to five under. Ironically, the three bogeys were some of the best iron shots of the day, and I was within inches of the front edge and three-putted, those were the only three greens I missed all day.” Dallas, 61, had a mixed front nine highlighted by a hole-in-one on the 131 yard, par 3 sixth hole. Playing front side at even-par he had a double bogey six on the second hole and then birdies on the third and fifth to get back to even. Following the ace, he had bogeys on the seventh and nine holes to finish the side at even-par 35. On the back nine after a bogey four on the 11th hole, he made his move and had birdies on 12th, 13th and 17th holes, to finish the side at two-under 33. A native of Australia, Hall has been living in the Arizona for six and a half years, and although he works in the golf industry, he doesn’t get the opportunity to play in a lot of tournaments, and feels fortunate to be in the mix for the final round. “It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “I’ve only had one top 10 in an AGA event. It’ll be exciting to have a chance depending on what David (McDaniel does out there this afternoon). It’s pretty windy out there. I feel like I’m swinging the club really well and the putter is coming around. I will just do my best and see what happens.” Regardless of the outcome, Hall has extra incentive to finish strong after being informed his uncle in Australia had just passed away. “I want to play well and do it for my uncle back home that passed away last night,” Hall added. I want to go out and do it for him. I’ll be thinking of him and wearing it on my sleeve. “