VICTORIA – PGA TOUR Canada – Fargo, North Dakota’s Josh Persons shot a 3-under 67 at Uplands Golf Club on Saturday to take a two shot lead heading into the final round of the Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist, the second event of PGA TOUR Canada’s 2014 season.
The 30-year old former University of Minnesota Gopher will take his first 54-hole lead in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event since the 2012 Neediest Kids Championship on the Web.com Tour. Persons built a two-shot cushion over California’s Garrett Sapp, Washington’s Brock Mackenzie and New Mexico’s Tim Madigan.
“I look forward to it. I had so much fun today and I’m hoping to have some fun tomorrow. I can’t wait to get out,” said Persons of his outlook for Sunday’s final round. “I played pretty solid today. I gave myself some chances and stayed out of trouble.”
Persons began his day inauspiciously with a bogey on the second hole, but carded four birdies without a bogey the rest of the day to leap in front of overnight leader Mackenzie, who fell to a 1-over 71 on a day when Uplands Golf Club provided a tough test. Among players to make the cut, the field scoring average was 70.13 on Saturday compared to 67.80 on Friday and 68.84 on Thursday.
“It’s fun to play well, so that’s the good part, but this course will definitely test you. It was firm and there were some spots where you had to be real careful today,” said Persons. The second year PGA TOUR Canada member admitted he would likely feel the pressure on Sunday, but that he would simply try to make the most of the situation and enjoy it.
“It’s where you want to be,” said Persons, who fell to a 77 when he led through 54 holes at the Web.com Tour’s Neediest Kids Championship. “Let’s have some fun tomorrow. In the past I’ve been very nervous and I’m sure I’ll be nervous again tomorrow, but like I said I’m looking forward to it.”
Persons will play in the final group alongside Sapp, whose 67 on Saturday vaulted him into a tie for second. Mackenzie, the 2010 champion at Uplands, will play alongside Madigan, who chipped in for birdie on the final hole for a 1-under 69.
MADIGAN’S FINAL HOLE CHIP-IN TURNS LONG DAY INTO SUCCESSFUL ONE
When New Mexico’s Tim Madigan found the greenside rough at the 18th hole Saturday, he was hoping to simply get away with a par and avoid giving away another stroke heading into the final round. Instead, his pitch found the bottom of the cup and put him in excellent position to contend in just his second PGA TOUR Canada event.
“After the second shot I was saying ‘let’s get par, let’s go home and reset for tomorrow.’ Chipping in, that was probably more luck that anything because that thing was haulin’,” said Madigan, who carded his third straight round in the 60s. “It makes up for 3-putt on 17 from 15 feet, let’s just put it that way.”
The 25-year old said he was confident he would be able to handle Sunday’s pressure and block out the distractions of contending on PGA TOUR Canada.
“I’ve been in a winning position before, probably not of this magnitude, but it’s just 18 holes of golf,” said Madigan. “Whether it’s the situation or the crowd, nothing changes. You just put up the best score you can.”
ALLENBY’S STRONG ROUND MAKES HIM TOP CANUCK
Langley, British Columbia’s James Allenby finds himself the lone Canadian in the top 10 heading into Sunday’s final round thanks to a 3-under 67, leaving him tied for fifth at 8-under.
“I’m really proud of the way I played this week. I played really strong,” said Allenby, looking to improve on a career best T-3 finish on PGA TOUR Canada, set two years ago at the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel. “I gave one back at 16 but as far as the whole day goes it was just a solid game of golf that I played and I’m really proud of that.”
Weather: 20 degrees. Winds 15 km/h. Sunny.
Florida’s Michael Buttacavoli (T-5, -8), a winner at the Dominican Republic Open on the NEC Series – PGA TOUR Latinoamérica last month, is looking to become the first winner on both TOURs in the same season.
Vancouver Island natives Cory Renfrew and Riley Wheeldon struggled to rounds of 72 and 73, respectively to fall to a share of 31st place.
Calgary, Alberta’s Ryan Yip had both the low round of the day and the day’s only bogey-free round with a 5-under 65, moving him up 47 spots to a tie for 12th.
Cory Renfrew tweeted on Friday night that he would be donating $5 per birdie and $20 per eagle on the weekend to the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island. Fellow PGA TOUR Canada players Riley Wheeldon, Creighton Honeck, Michael Gligic, Devin Carrey and Adam Cornelson joined in, with the group totaling 17 birdies for $85, with fans welcome to match the donation on site.
Round 4 will begin at 7:30 AM.