Although neither Lovelady nor Mullinax is likely to catch Berger, the two exceeded expectations.
“I don’t really think we both expected 63s, but we’ve both been hitting it pretty good recently,” Lovelady said. “I guess it didn’t really show much the first two rounds, and I guess everything kind of came together for both of us [Thursday].”
Both improved steadily after starting the tournament with a 2-over 74 Tuesday at Palm-Aire, the course many call the most difficult of the three. They then kept Wednesday’s scores under par at Woodlands before arriving at Heron Bay.
On Thursday, the two teammates turned in scorecards that had nine birdies without a bogey.
Seeing each other on the golf course is no new sight for either player. The two recall first meeting each other at golf tournaments as early as middle school and have been friends ever since.
“We get to battle each other a lot, but we like it. We know it’s a competition,” Mullinax said. “We don’t try to beat each other up; we’re still friends when the day’s over.”
While Lovelady and Mullinax each gained two strokes on Berger, Berger has essentially made the Dixie Amateur a one-man race heading into the final round. With a nine-stroke lead, he merely needs to avoid a catastrophe Friday to become the 82nd winner of the tournament.
Dixie Amateur scores
1. Daniel Berger, Jupiter/FSU, 63-67-65 —195 (-20); 2. Tom Lovelady, Birmingham, Ala./Alabama, 74-67-63 — 204 (-11); 3. Trey Mullinax, Mount Olive, Ala./Alabama, 74-69-63 — 206 (-9); 4. Derek Oland, McKinney, Texas, 68-68-71 — 207 (-8); T5. Richard Werenski, South Hadley, Mass., 71-67-70 — 208 (-7); T5. Sam Horsfield, Davenport, 70-70-68 —208 (-7); T5. Jason Roets, Howey-in-the-Hills, 67-71-70 — 208 (-7).