As he walked from the ninth green to the 10th tee Tuesday at Aronimink Golf Club, Chris Tanabe could have counted his strokes on the front nine of his second round at the Pennsylvania Amateur, but he didn’t bother.
The total was 28, 7 under par, an eagle and five birdies over an Aronimink layout that didn’t yield a single nine-hole score of 28 during the entire 2018 BMW Championship, a PGA Tour FedEx Cup playoff event.
Tanabe, 20, who is entering his junior year at Bucknell, came back to earth a little on his second nine, but his 5-under-par 65 propelled him to a three-stroke lead after 36 holes of the 106th amateur championship. Tanabe enters Wednesday’s final round at 6-under 134.
Stanford redshirt sophomore Nate Menon, the first-round co-leader, shot a 71 and shared second place at 137 with Zach Barbin, who had a 66. Will Davenport, the 2019 Golf Association Middle-Amateur champion, held fourth alone at 138 after a 71, while current Aronimink club champion Max Siegfried headed a five-man group at 139.
Tanabe, who is from Sewickley, Pa., took no time to kick-start his round, holing out an 8-iron for an eagle two at the 434-yard opening hole and draining five birdie putts ranging from 5 to 25 feet on the final six holes of his front side.
“I knew kind of where I was, but I didn’t actually add it up,” Tanabe said. “I’ve been in there before, a U.S. Am qualifier last year where I was 7 under through seven holes, made the turn in 6 under. So I was in the same spot. I was just kind of upset that I wasn’t able to keep the momentum going on the back.”
Tanabe parred seven holes on his second nine and bogeyed the par-5 16th, where he found bunkers with his tee shot and third shot, as well as the par-3 17th.
“I had to grind a little bit,” he said. “My swing got a little loose. It was getting hot out, I was getting tired. So I had to rely on my short game. My short game was spot-on all day until the last couple of holes. I let a couple slide, but all day it was working. I could rely on that, especially when I wasn’t hitting it too well.”
Tanabe was the 2016 Pennsylvania Class AA state champion at Quaker Valley High School and made All-Patriot League this past season.
Menon, who opened with a 66 on Monday, didn’t find the going quite as smooth over an Aronimink course that was stretched out to 7,191 yards after playing at 7,064 in the opening round. The added length combined with hotter temperatures and wind to make scoring more difficult.
The Wyomissing resident did hole out a 125-yard shot for eagle at the par-4 13th, hitting a 55-degree wedge, but managed one birdie and four bogeys.
“I’m right there,” Menon said. “I’ve been playing well enough, so hopefully I can capitalize on it tomorrow.”
Barbin, who is entering his junior season at Liberty, was 5 under for his round with the help of long birdie putts at the sixth and seventh holes before a bogey at the par-3 eighth, his 17th hole. Still, he managed to get into the final group with Tanabe and Menon.
“I really felt like I played really well considering the conditions,” he said. “I thought it would play tough with the heat, with the wind. But 66 at Aronimink, are you kidding me? It can’t get any better than that. This is one of the best places in the entire world, so it feels really good.”
A total of 42 players made the cut of 7-over-par 147.
Chris Tanabe, Sewickley Heights 69-65—134
Nate Menon, LedgeRock 66-71—137
Zachary Barbin, Loch Nairn 71-66—137
Will Davenport, Whitemarsh Valley 67-71—138
Max Siegfried, Aronimink 68-71—139
Marty McGuckin, Phila. Cricket 68-71—139
Brett Young, Nemacolin 69-70—139
Garrett Engle, Harrisburg 69-70—139
Kyle Vance, PAGA individual member 67-72—139
Ben Cooley, Huntingdon Valley 71-69—140
J.D. Hughes, Carlisle 71-69—140
Zachary Juhasz, Northampton 67-73—140
Evan Brown, PAGA individual member 72-68—140
Brady Pevarnik, Hannastown 72-69—141
Ben Feld, Green Valley 66-75—141
Connor Schmidt, Nemacolin 71-70—141
Matt Kocent, Phila. Cricket 69-72—141
Vince Kwon, Huntingdon Valley 71-70—141
R.J. Wren, LedgeRock 69-74—143
Joshua Ryan, PAGA individual member 70-73—143
Kevin Scherr, PAGA individual member 72-71—143
Patrick Sheehan, Talamore 69-74—143
Mark Goetz, Hannastown 73-70—143
Michael Brown Jr., LuLu 69-74—143
Carey Bina, Radnor Valley 74-70—144
Kevin Koerbel, Shannopin 70-74—144
Cory Siegfried, Aronimink 70-74—144
Jack Melville, LuLu 70-74—144