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Harvey puts his mark on Porter Cup

Round of 64 moves him closer to joining his fatherby Aaron Mansfield, The Buffalo News

LEWISTON — Every tee a memory. Every fairway a flashback.

The Porter Cup means more to Scott Harvey than to most golfers. Niagara Falls Country Club reminds Harvey of the days he spent there as a kid while his father, Bill, golfed.

“As far back as my memory goes, I remember coming up here as a kid and playing around on the putting green and the pool and, when I got big enough, caddying for my dad,” Harvey said. “That was really cool. Then I got the invite to play here, I think it was four or five years ago. That was just a dream come true for me.”

Bill won the 1963 Porter Cup. For as long as Harvey can remember, he has envisioned following in his dad’s footsteps.

Harvey has competed in the tournament the past four years, but he’s never been in serious contention, finishing in the top 10 just once. Harvey started the third day of the 2012 Porter Cup tied for 12th, but he rocketed up the leader board Friday into a third-place tie with Denny McCarthy with a round of 6-under 64, bringing him to 10 under.

“Now I feel like I’m ready to contend a little bit,” Harvey said. “It’d be really cool to get my name on the trophy with my dad.”

“He’s going to be proud of me. He’s going to want me to go in there and do it again tomorrow, even more. That’s his mentality: go get it.”

Harvey has an arduous mountain to scale. To get his name on the trophy, he’ll have to overcome Richy Werenski’s commanding five-stroke lead while also passing Justin Thomas, who is at 11-under. But five strokes are not nearly enough to dishearten Harvey from trying to achieve his dream.

“I got off to a big start. That’s the opposite of what I’ve been doing, and that was pretty big,” said Harvey, a North Carolina native. “I just kind of cruised around from there. I knew I needed something really special today to get anywhere close to contention because these kids are really good.”

Among the leaders, Harvey is the old guy. At 34, he is one of just nine Mid-Amateur players (those over 25 years old) in the 78-golfer field.

“It takes something pretty special for us to go against these college kids,” Harvey said. “But every once in a while, we can put it together for a week and hopefully compete a little bit. These guys are so good. It’s amazing to watch them play.”

Before the Porter Cup, Harvey had led his last four tournaments entering the final round. In April he won the Carolinas Mid-Amateur Championship. But he just wants this one more.

“I came up every single year,” Harvey said. “I can’t even tell you all the memories. Just being up here and being in contention, it’s way more special.”

The odds aren’t in Harvey’s favor. Werenski has looked borderline untouchable, emerging from little-known underdog to clear-cut favorite with a powerful 195 through three days – not bogeying a single hole. He shot a 3-under 67 on Friday to reach 15 under.

Tyler McCumber, who is tied for fifth at 9 under, has been chasing Werenski since Day Two.

“He’s obviously playing flawless golf just by his score,” McCumber said. “I mean, to not have a bogey out here in three days is pretty remarkable.”

Werenski, a junior at Georgia Tech, is ranked 70th in the Scratch Players World Amateur rankings. A couple of the other contenders are ranked in the top 10. He said he hasn’t had the best summer so far, and he couldn’t even remember the last tournament he won, but he knew in his mind he was good enough to win.

“Honestly, it’s not like I’m trying to do anything different,” Werenski said. “I’ve just been working really hard on my game. Sometimes it just clicks. It’s kind of clicking right now.

“I’m just really confident,” he said. “I feel that no matter where I am, I can hit the next one pretty good.”

What will it take to beat Werenski? His competition has an idea.

“Tomorrow you’re going to have to shoot low,” McCumber paused. “Real low.”

It remains to be seen whether Harvey can shoot low enough to overcome five strokes. But even if he doesn’t get his name on the trophy, Harvey can rest easy knowing his captivating 18 holes took the Porter Cup crowd through an astonishing journey Friday, a journey reminiscent of 1963.

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