Consistency paid dividends yesterday as the Middle Atlantic PGA championship resumed after a 42-hour rain delay at Washingtonian's Country Club course.
Neither Woody FitzHugh, the leader at 72-69 -- 141, nor Mel Rifman, who is two strokes back and the only other player under par going into today's final round, missed a green in regulation over the tight-driving course.
Rifman, 33, the teaching and playing pro at the BWI Range, hit the final 30 greens he played for a 75-68 -- 143 score that included an opening nine of 42 in which he three-putted the last three holes.
FitzHugh, assistant pro at Washington Golf and Country Club, played 29 holes yesterday in four under par after heavy rain suspended play early Wednesday afternoon. FitzHugh, 27, was usually dead straight off the tee. In his 69, he made two birdie putts of more than 20 feet but also missed three of five feet or less.
However, the Washingtonian course does not lend itself to charging birdie putts because the greens are bumpy, grainly and inconsistent.
Rifman, runner-up in this tourney in 1977, made five birdie putts on his round yesterday, but explained, "Most of the birdies today I wasn't trying to make. I was just trying to two-putt."
Trailing FitzHugh by three shots is another steady player, defending champion Mark Alwin of Woodholme, the section's second leading money-winner.He did not strike the ball exceptionally well, but kept scrambling without major problems and posted even par 72-72 -- 144.
In contrast, Greg Overton from Springfield Country Club, the first-round leader with 71, cost himself a chance at being closer than 145 when he pull-hooked his drive out of bounds on the 17th hole, a fairly east 535-yard par 5 that requires a straight drive to keep off Rte. I-270. Also at 145 is Tom Smack.
The essence of the streaky player was Larry Ringer, the pro and golf coach at the Naval Academy. He stood two under par on the 18th tee when play resumed yesterday. He hooked his tee shot over the fence with a driver, made 6 and finished with 72.
However, his even-par round included an eagle, five birdies and three double bogeys. He then made 16 straight pars until he snapped another hook over the fence at No. 17. At 72-74-146, he said, "I know I'm going to hit irons off those holes tomorrow."
By contrast, the 5-foot-8, 160-pound FitzHugh has little fear of using his driver.
"There are a lot of tight driving holes," he said. "I used my driver everywhere except on the seventh (a short par 4 that does not require much distance)."
Play starts at 7:30 this morning with the top six players scheduled to tee off around 10 a.m.