BLOOMINGTON - George Tate had gotten to 4-under-par Tuesday in the Country Youth Classic's boys 14-15 year-old division at Prairie Vista Golf Course.
Even though he stumbled slightly down the stretch, Tate was relieved about one thing:
He beat the rain.
Tate and his playing partners were on the 18th green when the horn was sounded for a suspension. They were allowed to putt out, and Tate finished off a 1-under-par 71. After about a three-hour delay thanks to 1½ inches of rain, Logan Stauffer of Danvers played his final hole to shoot 73 and trail Tate by two strokes heading into today's final round.
"I was real happy with it, even though I lost it a little at the end," said Tate, who will be a sophomore at Springfield High School. "My putting was definitely on. I pulled some out of my backside. I was also good off the tee."
Will Chambers of Harpenden, England, is third after firing 74.
After making the turn at 2-under 34, Tate added a couple more birdies and found himself at 4-under with five holes left.
"I got in sand trouble and that cost me a couple bogeys," he said.
Tate said he recently finished second in a Springfield junior tournament and came into the sixth annual CYC feeling confident.
"I just got some new irons and a driver," he said. "I've just got my game going and came over here and have been doing well so far … Tomorrow I'll probably be a little more conservative and try not to blow anything too high. It will probably play different because of the rain."
Stauffer lipped out a 14-foot birdie putt after walking back to the 18th tee after the delay.
"I'm glad I don't have to go out and play another nine," said Stauffer, who will be a freshman at University High School. "I was glad I had only one hole left to play."
Stauffer started off fast with a birdie on the first hole and added another birdie on No. 14. While Stauffer belongs to Lakeside Country Club, he likes having the tourney at Prairie Vista.
"I play out here about four times a year. This is one of my favorite public golf courses in Bloomington," he said. "I feel real comfortable playing it. It's just a great course. It's fair and you can make a lot of birdies here."
Stauffer has developed a friendship with Chambers the past couple years playing in the CYC and the Pepsi Little Peoples Championship in Quincy the week before. This was their first time in the tourney at Prairie Vista.
"There were a few holes that were playing pretty tricky," said Chambers. "There's not much run in the fairway; you had to fly it (to the hole). I think it will be all won or lost on the greens, as usual. You have to hit the greens. There's a lot of trouble over them with water, bunkers and mounds."
Chambers played in the first group of the day with Tate and considered himself fortunate heading into today's finale.
"At one point I was seven shots behind him and got it back to three," said Chambers. "Seven shots is almost goodbye."
The Den rained out
The final round of the American Junior Golf Association boys tourney and the boys 16-17 division were canceled because of heavy rain at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.
Jace Striplin of Centerville, Ohio, was declared the AJGA champion after shooting a 2-under-par 70 on Monday. Michael Peters of Champaign took second with 73, while Alex Burge of Bloomington won a scorecard playoff for third after shooting 73.
Corey Verseman of Galesburg won the boys 16-17 championship flight in a scorecard playoff with four other golfers who shot 75.