The Norman Transcript

Sports

June 22, 2013

Former Sooner Kropp squares off against his buddy at Belmar

MOORE — How’s this for a matchup?

Will Kropp and Jordan Russell are staying in the same house this week. Friday, they drove to the course together. Today, they’ll be in the final group together, each gunning for his first professional victory.

They’re friends.

Also competitors.

What’s that like?

“We just have fun out there,” Russell said. “I mean, you’re not going to war.”

It is the OK Kids Korral Championship at Belmar Golf Club. After three days and 54 holes, Kropp, who just finished up on Ryan Hybl’s Oklahoma golf team, is 11-under par after his second straight 65. Russell, who opened with a sizzling 61 on the 6,519-yard and par 70 layout, has come back with rounds of 72 and 67 and is 10-under par.

Behind them and still in a position to challenge for first-place money of about $14,000 are Kevin Penner (67-72-62) and Jonathan Randolph (68-65-68) at 9-under par. Mark Walker (63-71-69) is 7-under and Cody Gribble (68-70-66), Blake Trimble (69-67-68) and Hudson Johnson (65-70-69) are all five strokes back at 6-under.

Kropp is playing in his second pro tournament. Russell is playing in his second final group in the space of a few weeks, having finished fifth at the Gateway Buick GMC Classic May 25 in Garland, Texas. In that event, Russell finished with a disappointing 74.

Momentum would appear to be with Kropp, who not only has the local connection of being a Sooner, but is coming off a round in which he made his own luck, spinning a lob wedge back to the hole at No. 11, a short par 3, for the fifth hole-in-one of his life, as well as one in which the golfing gods appeared very much on his side as he played the par 4 18th.

“I hit the drive really well,” he said. “I guess the wind knocked it down. I thought it was in the bunker.”

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