SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In professional golf, the most gratifying major champions tend to be those who, after a string of near misses in majors, finally break through in triumphant fashion.
On the Golf Channel Am Tour, perhaps the equivalent for the player most ready to break through on the national stage is K.C. Fox. Competing in the Championship flight, Fox, from Sarasota, Fla., placed third in last year's national championship and runner-up in the previous two events.
In 2014, Fox is at it again, finding himself tied at the top heading into the final round at Talking Stick North.
"I don't know how you're supposed to win 'em," said Fox. "But I'm going to try tomorrow.
"I'd love to get my name on that trophy."
Fox took a three shot lead into the third round, but now finds himself with company at the top. Standing in his way is 2013 Championship flight champion Bob Brooks.
The two are six shots clear of the field heading into the final round.
On Wednesday, Brooks, perhaps showing the steely nerve of a past champion, pounced on the back nine when Fox made back-to-back double bogeys. He answered with three birdies in a row and carded an even par 71 on a day plagued with rain (Grayhawk, oddly enough, was bone dry). Fox certainly knows what he's up against heading into the final round; he had a front row seat to Brooks' victory in 2013 at PGA West.
"He's a good guy and a good player," said Fox. "I enjoy playing with him."
Fox won the Waterlefe Classic on the Golf Channel Am Tour earlier this year.
Hughes nets first ace
Bill Hughes, from Snellville, Ga., competing in his fifth nationals, aced the 5th hole with an 8-iron on the Talon Course at Grayhawk Golf Club.
It was the 61-year-old's first ever ace, and it came in dramatic fashion. "I hit it right over the stick," recalled Hughes. "The back of the green was sloping towards the pin, and the ball rolled back down and into the hole.
"I couldn't believe what I saw."
The ace resulted in an open bar tab in Hughes' name at Grayhawk, though the club did give him a pin flag for the achievement. Hughes plans on continuing the celebration this weekend.
"It's my wife's birthday on Sunday," said Hughes. "I told her we're going to have a nice birthday celebration at Ruth's Chris."
Michigan tops Jones flight
Meanwhile, the state of Michigan is well represented in the Jones flight. Greg Harris, from Newaygo, Mich., has gone wire-to-wire after three rounds. But John Rakowski, from Jackson, Mich., lit up the flight with a 78 at Talking Stick South to earn medalist honors and jump into second place.
Rakowski is tied with Staten Island, N.Y.'s Dennis Yang three shots behind Harris. The trio makes up the final group at Talking Stick North on Thursday.