By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Zach Burry tried to keep his strategy simple Tuesday at the Pepsi Titan Little People's Golf Championships.
"Go out there and just don't shoot yourself out of it," Burry said.
Burry did a little better than that. He shot himself into the lead of the boys 16-17 division at Westview Golf Course.
The Quincy High School senior shot a 1-under 70. Matt Echelmeier of Columbia, Mo., and John Leverton of Pontiac, Ill., are a stroke behind. Brett Darland of Ballwin, Mo., and Jack Robertson of Rogers, Ark., are tied for fourth at 73. The tournament concludes with 18 holes Wednesday.
A year ago, Burry shot himself into a hole on Day 1 when he carded a 79. That placed him five strokes off the lead. Burry rallied with a 72 on the second day to tie for second.
"It feels good to play a lot better than last year," Burry said. "I'll just try to go out (Wednesday) and do the same thing. I don't want to press the issue. I don't really need to. I just want to go out there and have fun and adjust from there."
Burry might get some competition from QHS junior Kolbe Rodemich, who is among a group of four players at 74.
"That would be pretty fun," Rodemich said of the possibility of getting into a battle with Burry for the title. "I was mostly just hitting greens and two-putting today. The greens I did miss, I usually got up-and-down."
Rodemich, who started on No. 10, caught fire around the turn. He birdied Nos. 18, 3 and 6.
Burry finished on a high note, rolling in a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 ninth, his final hole.
"About 5 feet away, I knew it was going in," Burry said.
Echelmeier highlighted his round on the par-5 sixth. He chipped in with a 60-degree wedge from 33 yards out for eagle. He followed that by closing his round with three straight pars.
"That was a big boost to my motivation," Echelmeier said. "Going into it, it just seemed like I couldn't get anything into the hole. When you can hole out from the fairway, it helps you and you're much more calm on shots, because you trust it."
Burry played Nos. 10-18, which served as his front nine, at 1-over before heating up on Nos. 1-9.
He rolled in a 20-footer for birdie on No. 1. After a bogey on No. 3 pushed him back to 1-over, Burry sank a 10-foot putt for birdie on No. 6.
He had makeable birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 but missed and settled for par before closing strong on No. 9.
"It was a good feeling," Burry said of birdieing the final hole. "I had a couple putts to go to 1-under, and I didn't make them. So I just told myself, ‘Give it a good speed,' and I did it."