Lott ties tourney record, leads City Am by 7

Sep. 9—David Lott couldn't have dreamed of a better start to the 14th annual City of Aiken Amateur Championship on Saturday morning.

In more ways than one.

Lott holed out for eagle on the first hole of the weekend, then didn't slow down on his way to a 9-under 61 that ties the 18-hole tournament scoring record and leaves him seven shots clear of the field heading into Sunday's final round.

"It's just crazy. I don't know," said Lott, the 2020 Regular division champion representing Barnwell's Sweetwater Country Club. "I probably haven't shot under par but about three or four times all year, is the crazy thing, and just everything went right today. Holed out on 1 from 102 yards, and then it was just easy from there, it seemed like."

It may just be something about the first hole at The Aiken Golf Club, which Lott birdied all three times on his way to a playoff win here three years ago. In the first two rounds he hit hybrid off the tee and then a 58-degree wedge to a foot for a tap-in birdie, then rolled in a 10-footer in the playoff for the title.

He surpassed even that Saturday, despite what he called a shaky swing on his first day of the day from the 8 a.m. starting time. He popped up his hybrid a bit, but still left himself the perfect number to the front-right pin. It hopped once, then dropped.

He then birdied the par-5 second, then added another on the tough par-4 fifth. Just like that, he was 4 under through what can be a dangerous starting stretch at Aiken.

"Usually you just try to make pars on 3, 4 or 5," he said. "Yeah, I lucked up and made a — that front pin is the easiest pin, though, for me on 5, so I hit a little 100-yard shot in and made a short putt. But, yeah, that back pin on 5 is rough. I know it's going to be there tomorrow. That's the problem."

He wasn't even close to finished. He parred holes 6 through 8, then added another birdie on the par-3 ninth despite missing the green off the tee.

"I holed it from the bunker on 9. I mean, it was just one of those days," he said with a laugh. "I holed it from the bunker on 9. And then, that 4-hybrid is my favorite club in my bag, probably. I had about 215 (yards) into 10 and hit it up to about 6 foot and made that. I should've hit the same club on the next hole, but bogeyed it."

The eagle on the par-5 10th put him at 7 under, and he made up for the bogey on the par-3 11th by birdieing the par-5 13th and par-4 14th holes. He hit his tee shot on the par-3 16th to no more than 2 feet for a kick-in birdie, then parred his way in to tie the record set by Patrick Cunning in 2013's final round on his way to his third of six City Am titles.

Aiken High senior Richard Anaclerio, former USC Aiken golfer Andrew Ward and former Greenbrier golfer Austen Heider are tied for second after rounds of 68. They'll be leading the charge to try to chase down Lott, who has the 36-hole scoring record of 130 — set by Brian Quackenbush in 2021 and tied by Cunning last year — well within his sights.

One thing about Sunday's round will be vastly different, though — leading the Regular division means the last tee time of the day, about a five-hour difference from when he, Kyle Bearden (70), JC Greene (73) and Bo McCullough (78) started the day.

"Oh, yeah. That first tee time's nice," said Lott, the Clemson tiger paw on his shirt doing nothing to hide that he was ready to leave the course and watch some football. "It was perfect weather this morning, and you don't have to worry about waiting all day. That first tee time was nice this morning."

Record-setting defending champion Skye Two Hawks Skenandore (70) holds a two-stroke lead over Aiken High's Kaylee McElwain (72) in the Ladies division.

Tom Kennaday (71), the 2019 champion of the Regular division, leads the Senior division by two over Jim Boughner, Wayne McKenney and Mike Wiland.

Darrell Thompson (75) leads the Super Senior division by two over Bernie Dailey and Glen Hurt.

James Morrow (76) leads Bob Pedley by three in the Legends division.