Matt Hendrix, Hilton Head Island's Chris Epperson in race at top of eGolf Tour's Palmetto Hall Championship

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Matt Hendrix, Hilton Head Island's Chris Epperson in race at top of eGolf Tour's Palmetto Hall Championship

From staff reports
Published Sunday, February 17, 2013   |  1698 Words  |  

Former Clemson standout Matt Hendrix and hometown favorite Chris Epperson pulled away from the field Saturday at the eGolf Tour's season-opening Palmetto Hall Championship at the Palmetto Hall Plantation Golf Club on Hilton Head Island.

With a birdie on the 54th hole, 36-hole leader Hendrix reached 14-under 202 through three rounds of play -- two shots clear of Hilton Head Island's Epperson and seven shots ahead of the rest of the field. With 18 holes to go, both players will return to the Cupp Course on Sunday aiming for their first win on the eGolf Tour.

In the morning, a gentle breeze and bright sunshine greeted the 77 players who made it to the weekend at Palmetto Hall. By late morning, however, darkened skies and a temperature drop gave way to high winds and a spitting rain that made par a fantastic score.

Hendrix entered the day at 9-under 135, and with a one shot lead over Epperson, who sat at 8-under 136 following two rounds of play. Paired alongside Jesse Smith in the final threesome at 10 a.m., the two set out to pull away from the field, and did so easily.

Both players birdied three of their first seven holes, yet a bogey at No. 4 by Hendrix placed them tied for the lead at 11 under with 10 holes to play.

"Chris and I were pushing each other a lot out there," said the 32-year-old Hendrix. "I was trying to play smart golf given the conditions. That was honestly one of the best rounds I've played in two years."

Epperson posted his first bogey of the day at the par-4 ninth, which led to a two-shot swing after Hendrix birdied the par-5 10th to get to 12-under for the week.

"I knew we were playing well," Hendrix said. "It wasn't easy out there, so I had the feeling that anything under par was going to be good."

Hendrix bogeyed the 13th to fall to just one up on Epperson, and the two later matched birdies at both 15 and 17 to arrive at the par-4 18th with just a one shot differential - Hendrix at 13-under and Epperson at 12-under.

After a good tee shot, Hendrix hit a flawless pitching wedge to 3 feet to set up a short birdie try at the last, finishing off a third-round 67 in birdie-birdie style.

"I decided to bunt a pitching wedge, and it hit just short and took a huge first hop up to the hole, about 3 feet out," said Hendrix of the front left hole location at the last.

Epperson parred the last, setting up somewhat of a two-horse race today, with Hendrix at 14 under and two clear of his Saturday playing partner.

"It might look like a two-player race, but if the weather is decent, you can score out there," said Hendrix. "We'll both have to keep playing well tomorrow."

Hendrix, a member of Clemson's 2003 NCAA Championship squad, has 119 career starts between the PGA Tour and the Tour under his belt.

"I think I'm still in the learning process to win, and to be honest, I've really only had a few opportunities to do this since turning pro," he said. "It just hasn't happened yet, but there's a lot of luck involved in golf. Hopefully tomorrow will go my way."

Like Hendrix, Epperson has also spent part of the last two seasons on the Tour.

After successfully navigating the first stage of PGA Tour Q-School last fall, the former Armstrong Atlantic State golfer arrived at the second stage with his eyes set on making it to finals in December, in turn guaranteeing himself some form of status on either the PGA or Tour this year.

But a neck injury caused Epperson to miss his chance to advance by two shots.

"I think we can agree that I probably should have won by now," said Epperson, who has never finished outside the top 10 in three years at Palmetto Hall. "This would be the perfect place to get my first win -- in my hometown. It would make up for all of the disappointments in the past."

Without doubt, the round of the day came from 25-year-old Derek Rende of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., who moved from a tie for 21st to third place with a stunning 4-under 68 that put him at 7-under 209 -- seven shots off the lead.

eGolf Tour Palmetto Hall Championship

Palmetto Hall Plantation Club -- Robert Cupp Course

Third round -- Saturday

1. Matt Hendrix 68-67-67--202

2. Chris Epperson 69-67-68--204

3. Derek Rende 70-71-68--209

T4. Bruce Woodall 72-67-71--210

T4. Fielding Brewbaker 72-66-72--210

T4. Jesse Smith 70-67-73--210

T7. Daniel Woltman 70-71-70--211

T7. Wes Roach 66-73-72--211

T9. Connor Arendell 73-65-74--212

T9. Matt Eschenburg 70-68-74--212

T11. Joshua Brock 69-74-70--213

T11. T.J. Howe 70-70-73--213

T11. Brent Delahoussaye 73-66-74--213

T11. Drew Weaver 68-72-73--213

T11. Joey McLister 69-69-75--213

T11. Fergal Rafferty 70-68-75--213

T17. Jon Kennedy 69-73-72--214

T17. Kyle Bradley 71-71-72--214

T17. Frank Adams III 71-71-72--214

T17. Adam Mitchell 75-69-70--214

T17. David Robinson 71-71-72--214

T17. Matthew Ryan 73-69-72--214

T17. Paul Brown 69-72-73--214

T17. Clark Klaasen 71-70-73--214

T17. Ryan Gildersleeve 71-73-70--214

T17. Conrad Shindler 70-70-74--214

T17. Cam Burke 72-68-74--214

T28. Ben Lee 72-71 -2--215

T28. Taylor Floyd 66-74-75--215

T28. Birgir Hafthorsson 72-73-70--215

T28. Nathan Sutherland 72-74-69--215

T28. David Chung 70-68-77--215

T33. Michael Carbone 76-67-73--216

T33. Thomas Smith 73-68-75--216

T33. Nick Bova 71-68-77--216

T33. Martin Jeppesen 72-74-70--216

T37. Chris Gallagher 71-71-75--217

T37. Will Collins 72-72-73--217

T37. Jack Fields 71-70-76--217

T37. Jeff Sorenson 72-73-72--217

T37. Seamus Power 73-72-72--217

T37. Gregg LaVoie 70-68-79--217

T37. Barrett Kelpin 75-71-71--217

T44. Paul Ferrier 70-72-76--218

T44. Robbie Greenwell 69-75-74--218

T44. Christian Brand 72-69-77--218

T44. Timothy Madigan 71-70-77--218

T44. James White 72-72-74--218

T44. Eric Shriver 76-69-73--218

T44. Thomas Curtis 66-74-78--218

T51. Travis Ross 71-72-76--219

T51. Chris Naegel 68-74-77--219

T51. Tanner Ervin 73-72-74--219

T51. Lanto Griffin 73-72-74--219

T51. Greg Doherty 73-73-73--219

T56. Garland Green 73-68-79--220

T56. Raphael Marguery 75-71-74--220

T58. Jake Scott 68-77-76--221

T58. Chris Baker 71-74-76--221

T58. Henry Zaytoun 78-68-75--221

T58. Luke Hart 71-75-75--221

T62. Olafur Loftsson 69-73-80--222

T62. George Bryan IV 71-73-78--222

T62. Paul Woodbur 73-71-78--222

T62. Rafael Campos 72-73-77--222

T62. Chris McCartin 74-72-76--222

T67. Shawn Jasper 74-71-78--223

T67. Jonathan Fricke 72-73-78--223

T69. Brad Arrington 74-70-80--224

T69. Andrew (a) Jacobson 69-75-80--224

T69. Matt Hill 74-70-80--224

T69. Preston Dembowiak 74-72-78--224

T69. Adam Stephenson 74-72-78--224

T69. Mike Furci 77-69-78--224

75. Will Golden 72-74-80--226

76. Brad Benjamin 72-69-87--228

77. Jake Amos 71-75-84--230

Final Round Tee Times

Palmetto Hall Plantation Club -- Robert Cupp Course

No. 1

8 a.m.: Chris Gallagher, Will Collins

8:10 a.m.: Thomas Smith, Nick Bova, Martin Jeppesen

8:20 a.m.: Nathan Sutherland, David Chung, Michael Carbone

8:30 a.m.: Ben Lee, Taylor Floyd, Birgir Hafthorsson

8:40 a.m.: Ryan Gildersleeve, Conrad Shindler, Cam Burke

8:50 a.m.: Matthew Ryan, Paul Brown, Clark Klaasen

9 a.m.: Frank Adams III, Adam Mitchell, David Robinson

9:10 a.m.: Fergal Rafferty, Jon Kennedy, Kyle Bradley

9:20 a.m.: Brent Delahoussaye, Drew Weaver, Joey McLister

9:30 a.m.: Matt Eschenburg, Joshua Brock, T.J. Howe

9:40 a.m.: Daniel Woltman, Wes Roach, Connor Arendell

9:50 a.m.: Bruce Woodall, Fielding Brewbaker, Jesse Smith

10 a.m.: Matt Hendrix, Chris Epperson, Derek Rende

No. 10

8 a.m.: Jack Fields, Jeff Sorenson, Seamus Power

8:10 a.m.: Gregg LaVoie, Barrett Kelpin, Paul Ferrier

8:20 a.m.: Robbie Greenwell, Christian Brand, Timothy Madigan

8:30 a.m.: James White, Eric Shriver, Thomas Curtis

8:40 a.m.: Travis Ross, Chris Naegel, Tanner Ervin

8:50 a.m.: Lanto Griffin, Greg Doherty, Garland Green

9 a.m.: Raphael Marguery, Jake Scott, Chris Baker

9:10 a.m.: Henry Zaytoun, Luke Hart, Olafur Loftsson

9:20 a.m.: George Bryan IV, Paul Woodbury, Rafael Campos

9:30 a.m.: Chris McCartin, Shawn Jasper, Jonathan Fricke

9:40 a.m.: Brad Arrington, Andrew (a) Jacobson, Matt Hill

9:50 a.m.: Preston Dembowiak, Adam Stephenson, Mike Furci

10 a.m.: Will Golden, Brad Benjamin, Jake Amosa