Bingaman takes lead into final round at CWA

One of his college coaches is breathing down his neck. A friend and fellow collegiate golfer shot the day’s best round and pulled within two strokes. And six other players are within seven strokes of him, which he knows from personal experience means they still are in the hunt.

But Brandon Bingaman prefers this year’s view, looking back at the rest of the pack, over last year’s.

Bingaman, who will be a senior at Colorado Mesa University this fall, shot below par for the second straight day and retained the lead in the championship flight of the 2012 Home Loan Colorado West Amateur golf tournament at Bookcliff Country Club.

He also captured the overall lead, which first-flight competitor Chris Berg held after the opening round, but followed his 5-under-par 66 with a 79 to drop seven strokes back of Bingaman’s 138.

One year ago, Bingaman was seven strokes behind the leader entering the third and final round. He proceeded to scorch the course with a 64, tying Durango’s Devin Schreiner for the lead, but Schreiner won a three-hole playoff for the title.

Understating the difference from a year ago, Bingaman said, “It’s a little better than being seven back.”

If the lead adds pressure, Bingaman is no stranger to it. As the No. 1 on CMU’s men’s golf team, he has led college tournaments and understands the approach to take today, when he’ll tee off at approximately 1:12 p.m. with Scott Sullivan, Sean Thomas and Cameron Brown in the final foursome.

“Let it come to you,” he said. “Try not to force it.”

Bingaman will hope for another start like he had Saturday, but a better finish. He began his round on No. 10, shot birdie, par, birdie, bogey, then eagled the par-5 No. 14, hitting a 7-iron to 25 feet and sinking his putt.

The rest of the course took two strokes back, leaving him with a 70 for the day.

The wind was a factor, as Bingaman said, “I couldn’t pick the right club, it seemed. ... I had some tricky par and bogey saves.”

Sullivan, a CMU assistant golf coach, sits in second at 139 after matching Bingaman’s 70 on Saturday, despite feeling his game was incomplete.

“I hit the ball well, just didn’t putt very well,” he said of his par-filled day, the deviations being three birdies and two bogeys.

Thomas carded Round 2’s best score, a 67, to climb into third at 140. The Colorado State University-Pueblo soon-to-be senior started his day on No 10 and ran his score to 5-under through five holes. He rattled off three birdies, then followed a par by matching Bingaman with an eagle on No. 14, knocking an 8-iron to six feet.

Thomas said he stared 6-under in the eye, but an eight-foot birdie putt on No. 15 lipped out.

This is Thomas’s fourth competitive round of the year after shoulder surgery in December.

“I definitely feel good,” he said. “It feels good to be in contention.”

This is his first time playing in the Colorado West Amateur, an event he decided to play because he’s friends with Bingaman and CMU’s Sean Robbins, who sits six strokes off the pace with a 144. Thomas competes against them in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. He’s also staying at the home of CMU coach Paul Brown.


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