KELOWNA – SPORTS —Highlighted by a hole-in-one on the par-3 third hole, George Cunningham shot a 9-under 62 to take the outright, third-round lead at the GolfBC Championship. Six players are tied for second and trail by three shots entering the final round.
With his father, Tracy, on the bag, the 22-year-old Cunningham got off to a hot start. He recorded a birdie-birdie-ace stretch in his first three holes to climb the leaderboard. His sixth-career hole-in-one came on the 175-yard par-3.
“My dad and I were joking saying, ‘Well that wasn’t the start we were looking for today,’” said Cunningham with a laugh. “Through three holes, I had a total of a foot-and-a-half of putts. I was feeling confident.”
After shooting a 5-under 31 on the front nine, Cunningham combined five additional birdies with a lone bogey on the back, to card the lowest round of his career. He credited his caddie for the successful day.
“He’s caddied for me a lot in the past,” said Cunningham. “He’s caddied for me in the last two events, as well. He knows how I read my putts, how I putt, so he’s able to look at it from a different angle. It helps a lot having him on the bag.”
Competing in his rookie season on the Mackenzie Tour- PGA Tour Canada, Cunningham finished third at this season’s Q-School USA West No. 2, in Phoenix, competing as an amateur. Shortly after graduating in May, the University of Arizona product turned pro and missed the cut in the first two tournaments of the season—in Vancouver and Victoria.
Among the six players tied for second at 12-under 201 are 18-hole co-leaders Zach Wright and Mark Anguiano. Wright carded a 3-under 68, with a disappointing three-putt bogey on the last. Anguiano shot a 2-under 69 that included six birdies and four bogeys.
Also tied for second, Russell Surber climbed 24-spots with his third-round, 7-under 64. Playing in his ninth season on the Mackenzie Tour, the 38-year-old had two consecutive missed cuts in the first two events of 2018.
Jared du Toit entered the third round with a two-shot lead but fell down the leaderboard with a 1-under 70 Saturday. A triple bogey on the par-4, 11th hole was the result of a pulled 8-iron into a bush. The Calgary native fought back, however, with three birdies on his closing four holes. He’s tied for second, three back. Adam Cornelson is the last Canadian to win on this Tour. He earned his victory at the 2016 Bayview Place DCBank Open presented by Times Colonist
Did You Know George Cunningham
Was named to the All-Pac-12 freshman team and All-Pac-12 second team during his freshman year at the University of Arizona? He also had six top-10 finishes during his freshman year.
Since the tournament’s inception in 2016, all 54-hole leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win the event: Dan McCarthy (2016) and Robby Shelton (2017).
Both winners from the 2018 Mackenzie Tour- PGA Tour Canada season were leading after 54 holes: Jordan Niebrugge, at the Freedom 55 Financial Open and Sam Fidone at the Bayview Place DCBank Open presented by Times Colonist.
The lowest 54-hole score in tournament history is the 18-under 195 carded by Dan McCarthy in 2016.
Among the six Canadians who advanced to the weekend, Jarrod du Toit is the low-Canadian, sitting in a tie for second, at 12-under 201.
“I’m going to go out tomorrow with the same game plan I’ve been having for the last three rounds. I’m going to keep my ball more in the center of the greens. Since I’m putting so well this week, if I give myself a lot of opportunities, I’ll be able to follow it up.” – George Cunningham
“That was actually the lowest round of all time, including casual rounds. I was never a person that really went low, so it was exciting to get that birdie putt on the last to fall.” – George Cunningham
“I played a couple of years on the Web.com Tour in between, but I’ve been out here a long time. I would like to move up and get on with my life, but I think the one thing that changes my perspective is that I’ve got two little boys at home. We recently just had one a few months ago. I don’t want to be away from them, but I need to make my time count and play the best that I can.” – Russell Surber on playing his ninth season on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada
“I would love to be the next Canadian to win out here. If it comes tomorrow, then great. If it doesn’t, I won’t hang my head on the effort, but I’m going to try to win tomorrow.” – Jared du Toit
Tournament Fast Fact
The GolfBC Championship is the final event of the BC Golf Swing, which consists of three tournament locations in the province of British Columbia. In its inaugural year in 2016, Dan McCarthy won this tournament by seven shots, with a 25-under total. Robby Shelton won the following year in wire-to-wire fashion, at 19-under.
Third-Round Weather Report
Mostly cloudy, with scattered showers throughout the afternoon. High of 27 Celsius, with wind at 30km/h.
Next Week: Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada travels to Lethbridge, Alberta, for the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open.