A fast start to his round Saturday has set up what could be a memorable finish today for John Murdock IV on his home course.

The Laramie product and former University of Wyoming golfer shot 5-under-par 66 and leads the professional field by one shot with a two-round total of 7-under 135 at the par-71 Glenn Red Jacoby Golf Course.

Murdock birdied his first three holes.

“I was fighting not to show any excitement,” Murdock said. “Playing here my whole life, I can count on one hand how many times I birdied those first three holes. I felt good and calm, and it carried throughout the round. I didn’t make any giant mistakes.”

Murdock shot a bogey-free round, was 4-under on the front nine and added another birdie on the par-3 15th hole from just off the green.

However, there was a tense moment on the par-4 16th.

Murdock’s drive went left into the deep rough. As Murdock was looking for his ball, he accidentally stepped on it, and the ball moved. Murdock waited for about 15 minutes to get a ruling.

“Last year that would have been a penalty, but this year’s rules changed that,” he said.

Murdock placed the ball as close to the original spot. His second shot was short of the green due to the lie and the thick rough, but he got up and down for par.

“You feel a little pressure from the guys in your group because they’re already done with the hole,” Murdock said. “I think I handled myself decently well, and grinded out that par.”

Murdock had a good chance at birdie on the par-5 17th as he reached the green in two shots, but he three-putted for par.

This is Murdock’s second tournament as a professional, and first on his home course.

“It is so special to me,” he said. “I love this course, and I can’t tell you how much I need to thank all the people that supports me. To be in the lead is phenomenal. (Today) will be fun and stressful, but it is about composure and keeping myself in the moment.”

Murdock will be in the final group today with a former UW teammate in Tyler Severin, who shot the low round of the tournament Saturday at 6-under 65 and is 7-under for the tournament. Severin, who will be a sophomore for the Cowboys this fall, leads the amateur flight by nine shots.

Spencer Painton of Aurora, Colorado, trails Murdock by one shot as he posted his second consecutive round of 3-under 68. The former University of Colorado golfer is playing in his first Laramie Open.

Painton, who teed off in the morning, was 3-under for the tournament after a bogey on No.14, but birdied the 16th and eagled the 17th.

“I was just trying to stay patient,” Painton said. “It is a tricky little golf course since they grew out the rough. The greens are tricky. The wind was blowing. I had to pick my spots, and kind of wait and see where eveything fell.

“It doesn’t matter where I am on the leaderboard. I am going to play my game (today) and see what happens at the end of the day.”

Ryan Schmitz of Greenwood Village, Colorado, and Tyler Torano of Chula Vista, California, are tied for third at 5-under. Both shot 3-under 68s Saturday. Schmitz birdied his last three holes.

“It actually wasn’t a very good day for me,” said Schmitz, who also is playing in his first Laramie Open. “I’m excited where I’m at, but I need to hit more fairways and work on the speed on my chips.”

Former UW golfer Eddie Stewart, who is from Jackson but now is a professional in Phoenix, was tied for the first-round lead at 4-under. He shot even par Saturday and is in fifth place. His round included a double-bogey on his final hole, the par-5 ninth.

“I made some bad mistakes out there,” he said. “I hit the ball well all day, but two silly errors cost me. “I have a chance to play well (today) and win a tournament.”

Thirteen players are within five shots of the lead heading into today’s final round.

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