By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Frankie Thomas has developed a new pre-round golf routine.
Before he leaves the hotel, Thomas drinks a chocolate Muscle Milk.
He doesn't believe in superstitions, but he has played three consecutive strong rounds of golf. Even if Thomas isn't sure it actually helps, he doesn't plan on stopping the ritual after Tuesday's effort.
Thomas shot a 1-over par 72 to tie for the lead in Division 6B at the Pepsi Titan Little People's Golf Championships at Westview Golf Course. Justin Arcano, of Mundelein, Ill., also shot a 72 to tie for the lead.
"If I play well the first day, I try to do the same things I did that day on the second day," said Thomas, who is 15 and from St. Louis. "I've played three good rounds in a row when I try the Muscle Milk. It gives me an energy boost. I'm going to keep doing it until I falter a little bit."
Thomas knew it was going to be a good day when he opened with a birdie, one of three on the day. He hit a 3-wood down the middle and chipped onto the green from around 52 yards out and finished his putt.
Seeing a turnaround was important for Thomas. He played in the Little People's last year and was unhappy with his finish.
"I shot two scores in the high 70s and finished 20th or something," Thomas said. "It feels really good to be in the hunt, and I'm going to go out with the same game plan tomorrow and trying to shoot the same score or even better."
Holding on to that lead will be a challenge. Besides Arcano, several golfers shot in the low-to-mid 70s and will present a challenge. Drew Eaton, a 15-year-old Quincy Notre Dame sophomore, shot a 4-over 75 and is in a tie for fifth place. Two years ago, Eaton finished in second pace at the LPGC in his age group and knew he needed a strong finish.
Faced with a 37-yard chip on the par-4 18th, Eaton played it nearly perfect, missing the hole by less than 3 feet. He tapped in for birdie on the 326-yard holes.
"I was thinking I had to get this close, I needed a birdie to stay in contention," Eaton said. "When I saw it hit the green, I thought it may as well go in here. It came up a little short. I'll have to hit it harder next time I guess."
Eaton played a solid round, dropping three birdies. Having been in contention on the final day the last two years, Eaton gained experience on how to pick up ground.
"The last two years, I learned you have to finish the back nine on the second day," Eaton said. "If you don't do that, you're not going to win."
Will Eversman, of Quincy, shot a 78.
Patrick Akaniroj, of Williow Springs, Ill., shot a 3-under 68 to take the lead in the 12-13 boys division. Showai Wu, of Shanghai, China, shot a 70 and is in second place. There were some bumps in the road for Wu, but he didn't let the mistakes have an impact mentally.
For every bogey, Wu seemed to have the remedy. He birdied seven holes against four bogeys and one double bogey.
"The course is short. With my driver, I can pass most of the big troubles -- the trees and bunkers," Wu said. "It set up really good opportunities for my irons."
Winston Margaritis, of Eads, Tenn., shot a 71 and is in third place.
He played a consistent round, parring 14 holes and birdieing Nos. 16 and 17.
"I think you have to play smart on this course because it's not long," Margaritis said. "I want to play smart, capitalize on short holes. If you play smart on the longer holes, you will probably shoot under par."