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Published: 7/17/2008

Youth is served in Ohio Am

ASSOCIATED PRESS

FINDLAY - The biggest news at the Ohio Amateur golf championship isn't that a bunch of hotshot college golfers - led by Arkansas-bound Ethan Tracy of Hilliard - are running away with a prestigious tournament.

It's that the tournament is being overrun by a couple of middle-schoolers.

Alec Tahy, who will be entering the eighth grade at St. Albert the Great in Kettering this fall while some of his fellow competitors are turning pro, made the cut at Findlay Country Club. He's all of 13 and won't be 14 until Sept. 23.

"I just wanted to make the cut," said Tahy, believed to be the youngest player ever in the tournament's 102 years. "I thought it would be cool if I could beat some older guys."

Mission accomplished.

During the Ohio Amateur's centennial, Jack Nicklaus said he had played in the tournament when he was 14 - when he met a 24-year-old named Arnold Palmer - in 1954 at Sylvania Country Club. Nicklaus is believed to be the youngest participant before Tahy.

The thing is, Tahy's not alone.

Chad Merzbacher, son of Ohio State women's tennis coach Chuck Merzbacher, also made the cut. He won't be able to get his driver's license for another two years.

Imagine the "what I did on my summer vacation" stories they'll have this fall.

Tahy followed an opening 75 with a 2-over 73 and stands at 6-over 148, making the cut by four strokes. Merzbacher had one of the day's lowest rounds, following a 78 with a 69, and is at 147.

Tahy said sometimes his older playing partners don't handle their anger well.

"Sometimes, they use a little more profound language," he said, actually meaning "profane language."

Tracy shot a 2-under 69 to take a two-stroke lead through 36 holes.

He followed an opening round of 67 and stood at 6-under 136 after yesterday's second round of the 72-hole medal-play tournament.

On a hot day with blustery winds and on a course with high rough and increasingly quick greens, Tracy remained oblivious to the pressure.

"I'm comfortable right now," he said. "I'm never really nervous or anything. I'm feeling good."

Two shots back was former Ohio State player Chad Coconis of Zanesville, who had a second 69.

Kevin Kornowa, a former champ from Sylvania, trails the leader by five at 141 after following an opening 67 with a 74.

Also making the cut were Tyler Riley (Findlay, University of Toledo) at 142, John Powers (Bowling Green, BGSU) at 143, Alan Fadel (Toledo) at 147, Steven Drake (Findlay) at 148 and on the 152 cut line Craig Soule (Port Clinton).



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