Third Round Leaderboard (Bold denotes Canadian):
Charlie Bull 65-68-68 (-12)
Corey Pereira 67-66-68 (-12)
Johnny Ruiz 67-65-69 (-12)
Greyson Sigg 69-63*-69 (-12)
Todd Baek 67-64-70 (-12)
Wes Heffernan 65-71-66 (-11)
Chase Wright 65-65-72 (-11)
*indicates course record
FIVE PLAYERS SHARE LEAD HEADING INTO THE FINAL ROUND AT ATB FINANCIAL CLASSIC
by Brian Decker
Calgary, Alta. –On a day marked by very windy conditions—gusts reached up to 35 km/h in the afternoon—five players posted sub-par rounds to end the day with a share of the lead heading into the final round at the ATB Financial Classic, the eighth event of the 2017 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season.
England’s Charlie Bull, California’s Corey Pereira and Johnny Ruiz, Georgia’s Greyson Sigg, and South Korea’s Todd Baek are tied at 12-under-par heading into Sunday’s final round. Calgary native Wes Heffernan—who posted the low round of the day with a 5-under 66—and Indiana’s Chase Wright sit one stroke back of the co-leaders at 11-under-par.
Only 28 of the 66 players that made the cut posted scores below par in the third round, and the field scoring average was 71.561, compared to 70.838 and 70.039 in rounds one and two, respectively.
“Conditions were a lot tougher. Setup was a little different. You just had to take a more conservative approach today, which, if you’re coming from behind, is frustrating,” said Charlie Bull, who won the 54-hole event last year and started the day three strokes back of 36-hole leader Chase Wright.
Bull had only one bogey on his scorecard on Saturday and played his back nine in 3-under-par to shoot a 2-under 69.
“If you get aggressive out there, it can really bite you hard with the greens getting firm and it being windy,” said Bull.
California’s Johnny Ruiz seemed poised to enter the final-round with the solo-lead for most of the day on Saturday. The 23-year-old started the day two shots back of 36-hole leader Chase Wright and got off to a hot start, making an eagle on the par-5 No. 2 and then recording birdies at hole Nos. 3, 5, and 7 to make the turn at 5-under and sit 15-under overall, good for a 2-stroke lead over Chase Wright, Yi Cao and Todd Baek at the time. Ruiz offset a bogey at No. 10 with birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 but then finished his round four-over in his final six holes to shoot a 2-under 69.
“I guess I just got a little tired towards the end and made a few bad swings,” said Ruiz, who made a costly double-bogey on hole No. 18 after hitting his tee shot into a hazard, “But two-under is a pretty good score out there today.”
Georgia’s Greyson Sigg also posted a 2-under 69 on Saturday, but Sigg’s scorecard was bogey-free. In fact, he has only made two bogeys in his last 54 holes.
“I would pretty much compare my round yesterday to my one today. The wind didn’t really let up at all today, and it was a grind from the first tee to the eighteenth green,” said Sigg, who set the new course record at Country Hills Golf Club with an 8-under 63 in round two on Friday.
“I made a lot of really good chips out here again today, and there [were] a few putts I made for par that really kept the round going,” said the 22-year-old Sigg.
Fellow 22-year-old and recent college graduate Corey Pereira had only two bogeys on his third-round scorecard en-route to a 3-under 68.
“I just tried to really grind it out and compete really hard today, and I holed a bunker shot, which is a bonus,” said Pereira, who hasn’t missed a cut in his first season on the Mackenzie Tour this year. “Midway through the round I started to struggle a bit, but I kept my head in it really well.”
Like Pereira, South Korea’s Todd Baek has played the last 36 holes in 8-under-par. During round three, Baek made a double-bogey on the par-4 No. 10 but finished with a 1-under 69.
“[I] hit it really good; missed a lot of putts out there. The double-bogey on 10 was the only bad swing of the day,” said Baek, who turned pro in 2012 and has made 56 Web.com Tour starts since.
Baek’s strategy heading into the final round hasn’t changed, though: “Same game plan. Stay patient. One shot at a time.”
BACKGROUND ON THE LEADERS:
25-year-old Charlie Bull is making his 30th career Mackenzie Tour start this week. Bull’s 2017 season has been marked by four missed cuts in five total starts.
The 2016 ATB Financial Classic champion carded rounds of 66-69-65 to take a two-stroke lead through 54 holes—which included four eagles in his first three rounds. However, the final round was cancelled due to torrential overnight rains, and Bull earned his first Mackenzie Tour win.
22-year old Corey Pereira is making his sixth career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. The former University of Washington standout earned conditional status at the British Columbia Q-School earlier this year and has not missed a cut thus far. He posted a career-best T7 finish at the Mackenzie Investments Open presented by Jaguar Laval.
Pereira was named an Honorable Mention All-American in 2016 and was ranked inside the top 25 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking when he turned pro this spring.
23-year old Johnny Ruiz is making his eighth career start on the Mackenzie Tour. Earlier this year, he earned exempt status for the first eight events of the season with a T2 finish at the British Columbia Q-School and has since recorded three top-10 finishes, including his first Mackenzie Tour win at the Staal Foundation Open last month.
Thanks to his win, Ruiz moved into second on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit and has stayed in that position since. Ruiz also earned an exemption into the 2017 RBC Canadian Open July 27-30 based on his position in the top-three in the Order of Merit. He missed the cut by one stroke.
Ruiz had conditional status on the Mackenzie Tour in 2015 and missed the cut in all four starts. He did not begin playing golf until age 14 and notched his first pro win at the 2016 Monterey Open.
22-year-old Greyson Sigg is making his eighth career start on the Mackenzie Tour after earning status at the USA East #1 Q-School, where he competed as an amateur while still at the University of Georgia. He finished T3 at Q-School after posting rounds of 71-67-67-69 (-14).
In seven starts this season, Sigg has missed two cuts and posted back-to-back top-10 finishes in the first two events of the season. He entered this week on the heels of a T38 finish at last week’s Syncrude Oil Country Championship presented by AECON.
A 3rd team NCAA All-American and first-team All SEC selection, Sigg helped lead Georgia to its 29th league title at the SEC Championship in 2016.
25-year-old Todd Baek is making his third Mackenzie Tour start of the season, where he missed the cut at the Staal Foundation Open and finished T50 at the Mackenzie Investments Open.
Since turning pro in 2012, Baek has made two PGA TOUR starts and 56 Web.com Tour starts. His Web.com Tour career has been marked by 25 made cuts and five top-10 finishes. Battling an injury this year, Baek has only made three Web.com Tour starts, all of which resulted in missed cuts.
Baek also started in three PGA TOUR Latinoamerica tournaments, all of which came in 2017. He missed two cuts and finished T46 in his other appearance.
ADDITIONAL PLAYER NOTES:
Calgary native Wes Heffernan is playing the ATB Financial Classic on a sponsor’s exemption this week. The 40-year-old PGA of Canada professional and 2008 Players Cup Champion is playing in his first Mackenzie Tour event of the 2017 season. This week marks Heffernan’s 147th start in the Canadian Tour and Mackenzie Tour eras combined.
In eight previous appearances at the ATB Financial Classic, Heffernan missed the cut three times and finished in the top-25 four times, with his best finish a T11 in 2010.
Heffernan is looking to become the first sponsor’s exemption to win a Mackenzie Tour event since Eugene Wong won the 2012 Canadian Tour Championship.
THEY SAID IT:
“It’s exciting, to be honest. I haven’t been in contention at a Mackenzie Tour event. It’s a dream to be in contention at any sort of professional event, so I’m going to try to enjoy the day tomorrow.” –Corey Pereira on his position on the leaderboard heading into the final round.
“This is my 20th year playing a PGA TOUR Canada/Canadian Tour event, so to be two of the best rounds of my career in 20 years is pretty exciting, [and] at home as well.”
—Wes Heffernan on his third-round, 5-under 66, which was the low round of the day.
“If I can come back from three [shots], I can do it tomorrow.” –Johnny Ruiz on his come-from-behind win at last month’s Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel, his first Mackenzie Tour win.
“My caddy and I were talking—there were two easy holes out there today, No. 5 and No. 7, but other than that every other hole there was a chance you could make a bogey on it, and you had to be smart about what you did.” –Greyson Sigg on how the golf course played during the third round. He was one of only two players to post a bogey-free round on Saturday.
“It was like someone turned the fan on out there.” –Todd Baek on the third round’s windy conditions.
Weather: mostly sunny, with some haze, and a high of 29 degrees Celsius. Winds 20-30 km/h with gusts up to 35 km/h in the afternoon.
Here’s a look at the scoring averages through three rounds:
Round Scoring Average
The demanding par-4 10th hole has played the toughest hole all three rounds. It yielded zero birdies during the third round (12 and 7 birdies during the first and second rounds, respectively) and played to an average of 4.697.
Click here for scores.
The low Canadian through three rounds is Calgarian Wes Heffernan, who posted scores of 65-71-66 and is T6 heading into the final round.
California’s Corey Pereira started his first round on Thursday bogey-double-bogey and has only made three bogeys since. His second-round 66 was bogey free. He leads the field in putts per GIR (1.636 through three rounds).
Final-round tee times will be from 7:59 am to 11:50 am in threesomes off No. 1 tee