Eddie Sanchez Jr. was positive he was going to stick with golf when he took up the sport six years ago.
He just didn't know he would be so good so quickly.
Sanchez and partner Connor McHenry shot a six-under-par 66 at Rolling Hills on Saturday to take the lead in the championship flight of the Wichita Golf Association City Fourball tournament.
Sanchez and McHenry carry a one-stroke advantage over the teams of Steve Newman-Tracy Chamberlin and Ryan Bina-Vance Holtzman entering today's final round at Wichita Country Club.
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The 45-year-old Sanchez is a New York native who lives in Andover and is a member at Flint Hills National. He has received instruction from Wichita State golf coach Grier Jones and former WSU player Jon May.
"Being competitive and wanting to play a sport like that, I kind of enjoyed it," Sanchez said. "When you live out there and there's a course out there like that, you have to play. The players I play against out there are good, so I had to get myself better."
Sanchez met McHenry, a former WSU golfer and 23 years Sanchez's junior, when McHenry was a caddy at Flint Hills. Both are close with May, so they quickly struck up a friendship and McHenry asked Sanchez to play Fourball together.
Their debut in the tournament has shown that the two are a natural partnership. McHenry hits it far and Sanchez takes fewer chances. They didn't have a bogey Saturday while shooting 33 on the front and back nines with six birdies.
"I think you have to have one guy that can get it in and play safe and another guy who can hit it long and get around and put some scores up," Sanchez said. "Connor didn't play all that great, but he made a big birdie on 18 that put us back in contention."
Sanchez and McHenry are one of the teams trying to provide the tournament with an unfamiliar champion — at least one player from every winner since 2002 is in the field.
Last year's winners were Charlie Stevens and his father, Johnny. Charlie Stevens and Nick Cusick had the lead after the first two rounds and are three strokes back after shooting a 71 on Saturday.
Newman and Chamberlin are three-time champions, as are Darren Copp and Mark Jolliffe, who are five shots off the lead.
Corey Novascone and Chris Swyers won in 2005 but haven't finished better than third as sporadic partners since, so they understand how difficult it is to unseat the veterans.
"It's tough to repeat," Novascone said. "This is a tough tournament. Charlie Stevens and those guys are tough to beat. Newman and Chamberlin are tough, too. Those guys putt lights out every time they're on the golf course."
Championship Flight after 54 holes
1. Sanchez Jr.-McHenry 200, T2. Newman-Chamberlin 201, T2. Bina-Holtzman 201, T4. Cusick-Stevens 203, T4. Potter-Smith 203, 6. Novascone-Swyers 204, 7. Copp-Jolliffe 205, 8. A. Carney-J. Carney 206, T9. Alefs-Rothwell 207, T9. Alefs-Rothwell 207, T9. Lagaly-Voth 207, 12. Campbell-Bannon 209, 13. Gordon-Goss 210, T15. Cassamento-Hubbell 211, T15. Logan-Doerflinger 211.
Other Fourball flights
(Scores not available from some flights)
First Flight at Wichita Country Club
Blake-Gorges 207, Jenkins-Priest 207, Chadd-Okeeffe 207, Kailer-Chapman 208, Ballard-Sheaks 208, Wyckoff-Buckingham 209, Mullen-Lyon 210, Mathews-Konek 211, Schulte-Schulte 213, Vickers-Siemens 219, Vautravers-Lindbergh 213, Albrecht-Rungee 215, Hanneman-Stephens 215, Crook-Boyle 217, Burris-Ewart wd.
Third Flight at Willowbend
Martin-Smith 213, Bowden-Bahner 215, Stephien-Bonta 216, Darrah-Lowwen 216, Laub-Koontz 216, Noel-Smith 217, Eastwood-Henak 218, Auer-Gilbaugh 219, Ogden-Burnett 219, Baker-Terzian 219, Bonewell-Bonewell 219, Coleman-Coleman 219, Munley-Squires 221, Knoblauch-Woley 221, Schneller-Leivian 224, McCrory-Kaul 224.
Fourth Flight at MacDonald
Latimer-Kirkland 218, Bloom-Claxton 219, Robinson-House 220, Doshier-Hromek 221, Donovan-White 221, Flinn-Anderson 223, M. Davis-C. Davis 223, M. Pennington-T. Pennington 224, Bish-Yakel 225, Jones-Henry 225, Hohnbaum-Mann 226, Seals-Bruggeman 227, Atkins-Willhaus 228, Balbierz-Boswell 229, Martin-brauer 229, Burkhart-Griffin 232.
Sixth Flight at Sim
Auer-Gilbaugh 233, Dill-Keith 234, Museousky-Wilson 234, Carrier-Carrier 235, Alexander-Chisholm 237, Morris-Hathaway 237, Overby-Wettstead 237, Snarenberger-Fulgham 238, Bachman-Marshall 239, Holt-Stahl 239, Mitchell-Gilstrap 241, Hergert-Cowley 242, Thompson-Thompson 241, Thurwanger-Kelly 244, Boyer-Leach 245, Fugate-O'Connell 250.