Armstrong fired a three-under-par 69 Saturday at the Club at Ridgefields to pull ahead by a stroke.
“I’ve never won this tournament,” said Armstrong, who was leading a 12-man Championship Flight field. “I’d like to win it. I know the field isn’t as big, but there are still some good players.”
Armstrong was at 140, four under par, after two rounds.
Chasing the leader in Sunday’s final round will be Carlson Cox, one of Armstrong’s former teammates at Volunteer High School, and Nashville’s John Tyminski. They were a shot behind.
Cox, the first-round co-leader after a 70, shot 71. Tyminski had a 70.
“I didn’t really have to fight as much on the back as I did yesterday,” Cox said. “The swing is starting to tighten up. It’s getting closer. I had a lot more birdie opportunities. I’m giving myself chances.”
Cox, a two-time Ridgefields champion, was just trying to stay in contention through two rounds. Now that he has, he gets the added bonus of competing with a longtime friend.
“I’m there; I accomplished it,” Cox said. “I was hoping for us to get together, so it will be fun. If anybody was to beat me, I’d want it to be Lucas. We’ll just fight it out. Hopefully it will come down to the last hole.”
Tyminski was in contention after the first round here last year, only to play the final two rounds in five over par. That experience could help on Sunday.
“Just getting to know the course is always good,” said Tyminski, who plays for Tennessee State. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m in the final group. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Armstrong came in on a hot streak. He shot rounds of 66 and 71 at Willow Creek in Knoxville during Tuesday’s U.S. Amateur qualifier. He missed a playoff by two strokes, but left with a lot of confidence.
After Ridgefields, Armstrong is headed to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for next week’s Southern Amateur.
“I’ve been playing well,” said Armstrong, who had five birdies and two bogeys on Saturday. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the Southern Amateur. I’d like to play well there.”
Eddie Karst, who shared the lead with Cox after opening with a 70, shot 75 to fall one over par and will start the final round five strokes back. Nobody else is closer than 11 shots out of the lead.
In the Seniors Division, Tim Dinwiddie posted his second consecutive 69 to retain the lead. At 138, six under par, he’s three shots ahead of defending champion Mark Halvorsen, who shot 71.
“I’ll be fortunate to do the same tomorrow,” Dinwiddie said. “I’ll take another one. There are some good players capable of shooting low. I just have to keep playing as hard as I can and hope for the best.”
Dinwiddie went four under on a three-hole stretch on the back nine to solidify his lead. His round was highlighted by an eagle at the par-five 11th when his hybrid out of the left rough found the green and he connected on a 15-foot putt.
“It ran like crazy,” Dinwiddie said. “I was just trying to hit it on the front of the green and I got lucky.”
Mike Wood also shot 69 and was alone in third at even par.
Also in the Senior Division, Steve Love made a hole-in-one when he holed out a 6-iron at the 169-yard fifth hole.
Bob Ross shot 73 in the two-man Super Senior Division to increase his lead to 12.
The final round is set for Sunday with the leaders in the Senior Division going off at 11:40 a.m. The Championship Flight leaders are set to tee off at 12:20 p.m.