By Bill Hoppe
It’s good to be nervous, Richy Werenski said. The butterflies, the uneasiness the Porter Cup leader felt early during a dazzling third round Friday meant he was doing something good.
“I was a little nervous on the first couple holes today,” Werenski acknowledged after shooting a 3-under 67 keeping him up four strokes over Justin Thomas entering today’s final round. “After I got through those, I didn’t really feel nervous.”
Heck, Werenski looked downright relaxed while birdying on 6, 11 and 13 at the Niagara Falls Country Club.
Incredibly, the Georgia Tech junior, who shot a 66 and 62 earlier, hasn’t bogeyed once all tournament.
“I’m just hitting it really good,” Werenski said. “I’m doing everything pretty good, haven’t made a bogie in three rounds. That helps a lot.”
Werenski planned to sleep well Friday night. But when he tees off again today, he expects to be “a little nervous.”
The 20-year-old can taste a rare victory. He only has a “bunch of seconds” recently. It’s been a “long time” since he entered a final round up so big.
“I’m just waiting for my opportunity,” Werenski said. “I know in my mind I’m good enough. I’m just waiting for the right time.”
That could be today.
How does the course play to Werenski’s strengths?
“You got to hit it good off the tee,” he said. “There’s some wedges, a lot of wedges and stuff. So that’s good for me because I usually hit it pretty straight, and I usually putt pretty well, which is helping.”
By his own admission, Werenski hasn’t enjoyed the best summer of golf. He finished tied for 41st at the Players Amateur in South Carolina his last outing
“I know I can play better,” he said. “I’ve been working on some swing stuff, some mental stuff.”
The Hilton Head tournament wasn’t as disappointing as it might’ve appeared, though. Werenski said the rough on the course was “really bad.” He wasn’t hitting his driver well, either.
“I didn’t play terrible,” he said. “Just things weren’t really clicking.”
In barely a week, Werenski’s game has changed dramatically.
“It’s just clicking right now,” he said. “It feels good.”
On Friday, Werenski said his longest birdie was five feet. He hit a sand wedge to five feet away on 6, and on 11 he hit a hybrid shot out of the right rough.
Werenski almost missed out on his first Porter Cup. He wanted a break last year after playing the Southern Amateur, so he skipped coming to Lewiston
When he contacted Steve Denn last year, the tournament director told him it might be too late to get a 2012 spot. Denn invited him earlier this year, though.
Now, Werenski’s close to earning a spot among the Porter Cup greats.