Mitch Rutledge and Callahan Elzey didn't so much surge from behind as they simply remained steady.
As Chestnut Hills Golf Club course turned against much of the field Saturday, Rutledge and Elzey took advantage and grabbed a share of the lead heading into today's final round of the Men's City Tournament.
Elzey shot a 3-under 69, while Rutledge posted a 70, putting them both at five under in the Fort Wayne Golf Association event.
They are two strokes ahead of Tyler Haire, who had a 72.
Tied for fourth at two under are Aaron Walters, who carded a 72, and 2013 champion Patrick Kelley, who turned in a 74.
The course yielded only 240 birdies and one eagle Saturday, compared with 303 birdies and four eagles in Friday's first round.
“It was playing a lot harder,” Elzey said. “They moved it back to make it more challenging.”
Laughing, the 17-year-old Bishop Dwenger student added, “I guess I didn't have too much of a problem with that.”
Elzey began the day four strokes off the lead but played consistently, with three birdies counteracting two bogeys.
The round's lone eagle came courtesy of Elzey on the ninth hole.
“My caddie (Albert Jennings) told me I needed to make it,” Elzey said. “He said, ‘I didn't bring your putter.' I holed it from 25 yards. It was pretty cool.”
Rutledge, who plays for Michigan State, survived three bogeys to climb out of a three-way tie for fifth place.
“It was a grind,” he said. “My short game saved me. I had a lot of key birdies.”
Rutledge said longer tee shots and tricky pin placement made the course two or three strokes more difficult.
Nick Bienz would make no argument there. He dropped from sole possession of the lead into a tie for seventh.
He made a bogey or worse six times over his final 13 holes Saturday, en route to a 78.
“It got pretty bad,” Bienz said. “Mentally, I struggled. Mistakes cost me five shots.”
At age 18, Bienz acknowledged feeling pressure from playing out front.
“Once the collapse started to happen, you tried harder and harder to stop it,” Bienz said. “It got to me.”
Don't expect the same from Rutledge, 20, who planned to spend his Saturday night relaxing with a movie.
“I think I'll have a good chance,” he said. “It's pretty easy for me to forget about golf.”
Drake Eifert, his caddie, helped put Rutledge at ease.
“We know each other really well,” Rutledge said. “He knows how I like to play golf. I keep it light. I don't take it too serious.”
Before assuming Rutledge has a mental edge on a teenager, consider that Elzey was too busy beating older golfers to worry about any differences in age.
“I was right there last year after two days,” he said. “I've always liked playing with older guys. Being in contention at a big tournament, I'll see what I can do.”