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June 28, 2014

BUCK SHEAR MEMORIAL: Wilson rebounds from recent setback to take 2-shot lead into final round

CULLMAN — Fast starts haven’t been a problem for Blaise Wilson this summer.

It’s the finish the recent University of North Alabama graduate is hoping to improve on.

Nearly four weeks since blowing a seven-shot lead on the final day of the TP Invitational, Wilson blazed to a two-shot advantage after 18 holes of the Buck Shear Memorial Tournament Saturday at Cullman Golf Course. The tourney’s 2009 champ carded a 7-under 65, two strokes clear of Jay Hayes (67) and four of Billy Conner (69).

The 36-hole event, in its 32nd year, will wrap up Sunday.

Doubt was far from Wilson’s mind in his first taste of tournament play since the collapse at TP, where he closed with an 81 to allow former UNA teammate Jake Greer to sneak away with the title.

But that was then.

On Saturday, “it was just a new day.” Wilson quickly put the past behind him and replaced those negative memories with a slew that were much more positive.

“It feels good, especially after my last round. That was kind of weird,” he said. “It was good to get the monkey off my back. I’d barely been practicing when the invitational came around, so I didn’t really let it affect me that much. I feel better now. It’s getting there.”

“Getting there” for Wilson translated to a super-low 65 that came on the heels of a streaky start and finish. The former Cullman High and Wallace State golfer birdied six of his first seven holes, dropped his only shot at the 11th and entered the clubhouse with back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18.

“I finally had time to practice the last month, so my game’s starting to feel actually decent,” Wilson said. “I just kept it in play. I only hit it in the water once. I only had one three-putt. Everything was decent.”

With college in the rear-view mirror, Wilson’s next step involves a trip to Asia with his good buddy Greer. The two are currently working on securing the funds to take off in January and try their luck in a few professional tournaments far away from home.

Trailing Wilson, Hayes and Conner in the championship “A” flight are J.J. Adams and Kevin Byrd, who both shot 71. Bob Kurtz, Eli Marty and Zach Weaver were all even.

Kurtz, a 73-year-old retired pastor, turned in his solid round just three days removed from breaking his fourth world record by completing 72 holes in three hours and five minutes at Chesley Oaks.

Bill Griffin and seven-time tourney winner Todd Lindsey sit atop the championship “B” flight with 73s. The group is rounded out by Adam Scott and Sylas Elliott, 74; Trey Hanvey, Gary Stephenson and Keith Drake, 75; and Luke Wilson, 76.

Elliott snagged last year's tourney title as part of a spectacular summer run.

The remaining flights are as follows:

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