Kirk Triplett wasn’t excited about his Saturday round in the Encompass Championship at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, even though it was a good one.
Triplett, an early starter, posted his second straight 5-under-par 67 and his 10-under 134 is three strokes behind leader Tom Lehman entering Sunday’s final round.
“If you drive the ball well on this golf course, things set up for you,’’ said Triplett. “I don’t feel like I’m hitting it great, but my misses have all been in good spots….It really seemed like a boring round, but boring just the way you like it – a good boring.’’
What isn’t so boring for Triplett is the development of his son Sam. In April he signed a letter of intent to play for coach Pat Goss at Northwestern and he’ll arrive in Evanston with the chance to make an immediate impact on the NU team.
“It was Sam’s good school work and good golf,’’ said Triplett. “It had nothing to do with me.’’
Sam was the latest signee for Goss, who landed Charles Wang of Sarasota, FL, and Dylan Wu, of Medford, Ore., in November. The trio will be part of a rebuilding effort. Goss’ prize recruit from the previous year, Matt Fitzpatrick, left school after the fall semester and Jack Perry, the star of this year’s squad, used up his eligibility.
Fitzpatrick, an English golfer who won the 2013 U.S. Amateur, decided he couldn’t combine college studies with the golf opportunities afforded the winner of that title. He was the only amateur to make the cut at last week’s U.S. Open and made the cut in his pro debut at the Irish Open, which concludes on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Tripletts, father and son, left North Shore for more afternoon golf nearby after Kirk’s morning round on Saturday. Sam, who has caddied for his father, led his high school team to the Arizona prep title in 2011, won the Ping Match Play Championship in 2012 and tied for third in the Junior America’s Cup in 2013.
“Northwestern has an excellent golf program and a coach who has a reputation for developing his players,’’ said Kirk Triplett. “When they were interested in Sam I was very excited about that. It’s a very good fit for him, and he looked at a lot of schools all across the country.’’
Kirk has travelled across the world playing tournament golf and is in position to win his first tournament since February’s ACE Group Classic in Naples, FL., in Sunday’s final round at North Shore. If he’s successful it’d be his fourth victory in less that three seasons on the Champions Tour. He stands 14th in the Charles Schwab Cup point race and has career winnings on the 50-and-over circuit of over $2.6 million.
“On (the Champions) tour there isn’t the same physical level as there is on the regular tour,’’ said Triplett. “On the regular tour you’ve got to be full throttle, and everything’s got to be going pretty good for you…..I have enough physical ability to compete on this tour. The last four, five years on the regular tour I didn’t feel that way.’’
Triplett won three times on the PGA Tour and also had a win on the satellite Web.com Tour in 2011. Starting at No. 10, he went without a bogey in his Saturday round and the last of his five birdies came on a 30-foot chip-in at No. 5.