LUMBERTON — Brad Locklear is confident.
As he walked down the fairwary of the par-4 18th hole at Pinecrest Country Club on Saturday, Locklear was roughly 96 yards away from the hole, hoping to knock it close for a chance at a closing birdie.
Instead, he jarred it for eagle.
“With the type of personality I have, I told myself that if I hit the ball in the hole I would solidify myself as the baddest man on the planet,” Locklear said with a laugh.
“It’s one of those things you can’t really describe. Coming into that hole I knew we needed a big finish, something to kind of seperate us a little bit. One or two extra shots makes a big difference going into the last day.”
The finish put Brad and his partner — Lonail Locklear — at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round of the Kiwanis All-American golf tournament. The duo carded a 10-under-par 62, good enough for a two-stroke lead.
While Lonail was happy with the result of the shot on No. 18, he wasn’t too confident in his partner’s ability to hole out heading into the clubhouse.
“I thought he didn’t hit it,” Lonail said.
“He said, ‘Wait till it comes down.’ When it stopped it was in the bottom of the hole and I couldn’t believe it.”
Brad provided the great finish, but it was Lonail who got the team off to a hot start. Lonail birdied the first hole to get the team some momentum and Brad followed with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 2 and 3.
“Lonail started us out nicely,” Brad said.
“It was a team effort. When you have a partner you know and can trust, it makes it easier for you to be aggressive. I always play better when I’m aggressive. I know that Lonail will at least get par, which gives me an opportunity to take some chances.”
For Lonail, the key to the great round was limiting mistakes.
“We got started early and we didn’t have any bogeys to stop our momentum,” Lonail said.
“We kept flowing, then Brad took over (on the back nine). We helped each other out.”
Both would go on to birdie No. 8 and Brad got the team rolling again with an eagle on the par-5 11th. The duo would birdie Nos. 13 and 15 before Brad ended the day at 18 with his unexpected eagle.
While it was a good start for the Locklear duo, they still have quite a few names within striking distance of the lead heading into the final day of the 36-hole tournament.
Former champions Dyrck Fanning and Scott Benton sit two strokes back after carding an 8-under-par 64, leading a group of six teams that sit within five strokes of the lead. John Haskins and Larry Cloninger — the defending champions — are four strokes back at 6 under.
As his team tries to claim the coveted blue blazer this afternoon, Brad said early momentum with some birdies would be huge.
“We’ve got to get a good start like we did today,” he said.
“If we come out hot — where we don’t have to play catch up — we’ll be fine. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. We made putts today, that’s the main thing. We’ve got to make some putts to win it.”
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.