It's been eight or nine years since Anthony Fink played in an individual golf tournament.
"Life ... marriage, and we had a little girl a year ago," he explained. "It's just life, a change in priorities, but I made a little bit of a deal that I was going to play a little bit more golf this year. So far it's starting out pretty well."
Fink, who won the Joplin Globe City Championship 10 years ago, made a successful return by shooting a 4-under-par 67 on Saturday and claiming a share of the lead in the Ozark Amateur at Schifferdecker Municipal Golf Course.
Fink is tied with defending champion Taylor Lansford and Jon Allen. All of the co-leaders started in the final hour of tee times.
John Tucker was one stroke back after a 68, and he played in the third group of the day.
Barrett Lais, Trent Carson, Derrick Ashe and Toby Crain were tied at 69, and a logjam at 70 involved Zak Tucker, Doug Gaddis, Paul Ashe, Dustin Edge, Landon Maberry, Chas Goines and Destrey Gibson.
Tug Baker, who won last month's Briarbrook Invitational, matched par-71 along with Kyler Brown, Landon Lawson, Icem Brewer, Andrew Maier, Lowell Catron and Wayne Robertson.
After Saturday's round, tournament officials split the field into eight flights — Flight 1 67-71, Flight 2 72-75, Flight 3 76-78, Flight 4 79-80, Flight 5 81-82, Flight 6 83-86, Flight 7 87-92 and Flight 8 93-above.
While the co-leaders were in the middle of their round, the threat of rain moved in, darkened the skies, and a 30-minute lightning delay occurred with the final three groups on the course.
"We were on No. 8 when it started getting really dark," Fink said. "We were wondering if we were going to get it in, and then it kind of spread out. We got a lot farther than I thought we would before we had to stop. It was sketchy. You could see lightning, and that's kind of unnerving with steel rods in your hands. I had just hit my teeshot on 18 when we stopped."
Fink cut the corner on the dogleg-right 18th hole and had 102 yards to the flagstick. His approach shot stopped four feet above the upper-left pin, and his delicate, left-to-right eagle putt missed.
"I barely tapped it, and it was gone," Fink said. "I knew it was for the lead, but either way I didn't want to get too aggressive."
Fink birdied the par-5 first and third holes and bogeyed No. 2 in a front-nine 35, and he birdied the first two holes on the back nine.
"Honestly I had four lip-outs on the front nine," he said. "Finally I made a 20-footer on 10 and a left-to-right (putt) on 11. Everything else was pretty steady, just hitting the greens, and this is as good as I've ever seen this course. The greens are great. Maron (Towse, course superintendent) is doing an amazing job out here."
Allen played in the final group, and he finished strong with birdies on the final three holes to complete a back-nine 31. He made a five-footer on 16, eight-footer on 17 and an uphill 12-footer on 18.
"It was interesting with all the thunderstorms," Allen said. "Having a delay and then finishing birdie-birdie-birdie, it's tough. But getting it done that way, it's fun to come in there tied. I didn't think we were going to get it finished, then to get out and finish the round and post the number I posted, I was really happy with it."
Like Fink, Allen felt his round could have been better.
"I left some strokes out there," Allen said. "I hit one (out-of-bounds) on 3. I almost drove the green on 6 but didn't get up-and-down for birdie. There were a lot of strokes that I left out there. I was looking to be a couple (shots) better, but I'll take what I got."
Lansford, who won last year's tournament by three shots, was the first to post 67.
He birdied the first and sixth holes for a front-nine 34, and he shot 33 on the back with birdies on 10, 11 and 17 and his only bogey on 13.
Today's final round begins at 6:30 a.m., and the last group tees off at 3 p.m.