Every time Ashton Poole was staring at a green, typically from the fairway, he seemed to have a wedge in his hand. The result was a lot of short putts, which helped the University of Virginia junior fire an 8-under 64 and take a one-shot leading entering the final round of the 52nd Dogwood Invitational at the Druid Hills Golf Club.
“Wedges were really good today,” Poole said. “The pins weren’t as hard as yesterday, not by any means were they easy, but I was hitting the wedges really well. Hit the ball well off the tee, got up and down when I needed to. Fortunately, things synched up pretty well.”
Two shots back is lanky William Nottingham of Clemson, whose third-round 65 included a hole-in-one; he’s at 15-under 201. Second-round leader S.M. Lee of Dalton State rallied to birdie three of the last five holes to shoot 70 and is alone in third place at 13-under 203. Auburn’s Jacob Solomon shot 68 and stands in fourth place at 12-under 204.
The three-way tie at 11-under 205 includes Chandler Eaton of Duke, first-round leader Jake Fendt of Kennesaw State and Luke Schniederjans of Georgia Tech, who shot 65.
Poole had nine birdies and only one bogey on his card. His bogey on the eighth hole ended a streak of 30 straight holes without a bogey. He’s made only three bogeys all week.
“The course is in great shape right now,” Poole said. “You hit it in the right spot and you get rewarded. Hit it in the wrong spot and you get penalized, which is the characteristic of a real good golf course, which is what Druid Hills is.”
Nottingham aced No. 6, which was playing uphill from 160 yards to a hole location he players couldn’t see. The ball hit on the green and rolled like a putt into the hole for his third career hole-in-one, matching the total of his brother, an infrequent golfer.
“I was aiming a little left of the target and kind of pushed it a bit, to be honest,” Nottingham said.
Nottingham’s front nine included four birdies and the hole-in-one; he turned in 30. Only a bogey at the par-3 17th prevented him from sharing the lead. He remains optimistic about his chances in the final round.
“Feeling good about my game,” Nottingham said. “Putting stroke feels good. Hopefully I can just keep doing what I’ve been doing, carry it over to tomorrow.”
Defending champion Lloyd Jefferson Go shot 75 and is at 1-under.
There were 48 players who made the 54-hole cut at even par.