GOLF

David Mills in first position for the final round

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NEWBURGH, Ind. – A putt can reverse a game of golf.

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David Mills knows it. He struggled with the simplest of them to start the third round of the men’s urban tournament in Evansville on Saturday. Think three feet with the leash already in hand.

It only took one drop to change this round. Once Mills started making them, there was no shortage of them.

The two-time City champion finds himself in first place for another title after a 3-under 69 at Rolling Hills County Club. Mills sits at 15 under with a six-shot lead going into the final round.

2022 Evansville Men’s Golf Tournament

Mills tees off from the No. 6 tee box during the third round of the Evansville Men's City Golf Tournament at Rolling Hills Country Club in Newburgh, Ind., on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Mills shot a 3-under 69 to extend his six-stroke lead going into Sunday's final round.

The moment was never too great for the former Indiana University standout.

“I was happy with it,” Mills said of his round. “I didn’t put myself in a bad position on my approach shots. In the rough, I had just hit it to the front of the green. I gave myself opportunities. »

This round went from a potential headache to splendid. The reason for both ends of the spectrum was the same club, his putter. A two-shot lead was gone after puffs from near gimmie reach at third and fourth.

Everything changed on the par-3 sixth. A decent tee shot found the putting surface over 40 feet on a sloping green. Having a 10 foot putt up the hill was not out of the question. Mills’ speed was perfect. He fell for a birdie that changed the momentum.

David Mills celebrates a birdie at No. 6 during the third round of the Evansville Men's Golf Tournament at Rolling Hills Country Club in Newburgh, Ind. on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Mills shot a 3-under 69 to extend his six-stroke lead going into Sunday's final round.

“It was almost a two-shot swing,” Mills said. “It relieves the pressure a bit”

From then on, his dashboard was perfect. A scramble from a clogged bunker at 8 for a birdie. A sliding birdie putt at 12 for another. A par 10 footer at 14 after blowing his approach past the hole. The marks kept coming.

Mills finished his round with more birdies at 16 and 18. He was one of only three under-par players at Rolling Hills with a Heat Rating reaching triple digits. His play, especially on the greens, changed the prospects for the championship.

David Mills comes out of the bunker on the No. 3 green during the third round of the Evansville Men's City Golf Tournament at Rolling Hills Country Club in Newburgh, Ind. on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Mills shot a 3- under 69 to extend their lead to six shots going into Sunday's final round.

Others were close for most of the day. Nathan Hoss, last year’s runner-up, had the best run and sits in second place at 9 under. The Northern graduate shot a 1 of 73 with two birdies and an eagle in his third round.

Hoss also struggled on points. His ball strike was not clean and caused him to scramble. Everything pointed towards the bend, however. An eagle at the par-5 eighth was followed by birdies at 12 and 14 put it back two strokes.

“I couldn’t shoot closer than 20 feet before hole eight,” Hoss said. “A lot of careless mistakes. I was making a lot of good rolls for pars or birdies on the front nine. It was just to give me the opportunity for a reasonable putt.

Nathan Hoss drives from the No. 4 tee box during the third round of the Evansville Men's City Golf Tournament at Rolling Hills Country Club in Newburgh, Ind. on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Hoss shot a 1 of 73 to stay in second place – six strokes behind the leader – heading into Sunday's final round.

What could be the difference were his last four holes. A three-putt bogey at 15 followed by Mills’ birdie at 16 widened the gap. A final mistake came on the par five 18 when Hoss picked a three wood out of the rough. He didn’t make solid contact and sent his ball into the water.

What Hoss called “an immature game” resulted in another two-hit swing. He knows it will take an aggressive approach in the final round to catch the leader.

“I obviously go to every pin,” Hoss said. “I just try to get as many birdies (as possible). At the end of the day, I can’t fight. If he plays better golf, there’s nothing I can do about it.

Peyton Blackard watches his drive from the No. 6 tee box during the third round of the Evansville Men's City Golf Tournament at Rolling Hills Country Club in Newburgh, Ind., on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Blackard shot a out of 73 for the round and tied for third place (-8) going into Sunday's final round.  David Mills leads the pack by 6 shots (-15).

Other challengers also struggled in the heat. Peyton Blackard reached 10 under with an early birdie in the second but gave up shots in the fifth and eighth. A parity back nine puts him third at 8 under.

He is joined by Matt Monroe, who had potential for a low round. The 2015 runner-up birdied five, including three from holes 8-12, to reach 10 under. Monroe slipped in the standings with four bogeys on the back nine.

Zachary Turi tied Mills for the low round with a 69 – he had five birdies in total and no bogeys over his last 12 holes – to finish at 7 under. Walker Beck also made an eagle-highlighted mid-run at 12 but fell to 6 under.

Zachary Turi jumps onto the No. 8 green for a possible birdie during the third round of the Evansville Men's Golf Tournament at Rolling Hills Country Club in Newburgh, Ind. on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Turi shot a 3-under from 69 to move up to fifth before Sunday's final.

All will pursue Mills at the Evansville Country Club. He could become the seventh in City history to win three titles. Mills also understands what can happen to ECC on the final day.

“I don’t really pay attention to scores,” he said. “I want to post the best possible score. Be conservative where I need to be, but stay aggressive. Still need to post a good score. You can’t relax.

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