SPRUCE GROVE, Alberta – SPORTS – Jorge Villar didn’t want to look. Despite being one of four players tied for the lead at the ATB Classic presented by Volvo Edmonton, the 24-year-old from Mexico kept his eyes on the business at hand during third round play at the Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club.
Adding to the degree of difficulty was Villar’s playing partners—Jonathan Hardee and Joe Highsmith—who also top the chart, at 14-under. Danny Walker is the fourth of the quartet sharing lead after 54 holes at the second PGA TOUR Canada event of the young season.
“I tried to avoid looking at the leaderboards today,” said Villar, who joined Hardee and Highsmith in shooting 66s Saturday, matching the tournament’s low score of the day. “We were on the clock for the last five holes, so I didn’t have time to look at it.”
Good thing, perhaps as it takes a little time to sort things out in the tightly contested tournament. Among the chasers, there are plenty of players still in contention for top honors and the accompanying 500 Fortinet Cup points.
“The difference between first and fifth is so minimal,” Hardee said. “But that’s why we work hard, and that’s why we’re here.”
Birdies were in rich abundance for Hardee, who made eight of them Saturday during sometimes rainy conditions. He also added three bogeys, two of them coming on his back nine that prevented him from moving ahead outright.
Highsmith, a PGA TOUR University graduate, is taking full advantage of his first PGA TOUR Canada tournament. Highsmith made six birdies against one bogey. Walker produced a 68 on the strength of six birdies and three bogeys.
Challengers poised to battle the frontrunners included four players who are just one stroke back. The group includes local favorite Wil Bateman, Jeffrey Kang and Trent Phillips, at 13-under. Bateman clearly enjoys playing in his hometown. In 2019, at PGA TOUR Canada’s 1932byBateman Open, he shot four consecutive sub-70 rounds on his way to a tie for 10th at Edmonton Country Club. Bateman shot a 3-under 68 Saturday at Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club. He made a late bogey, at No. 17, but had a nice finish, birdieing the par-5 18th to close.
Phillips is another PGA TOUR U. product. He made in succession three of his six birdies on his front nine, starting at No. 4 on his way to a 4-under 67. Canadian Jared du Toit and Americans Carter Jenkins, Samuel Saunders and Dalton Ward follow at 12-under. Parker Coody (PGA TOUR U., as well), Chris Crisologo, second-round leader Ian Holt, Derek Oland and Rhett Rasmussen are next, at 11-under.
Including Yi Cao, Spencer Cross, Kyler Dunkle and David Kim, at 10-under, there are 16 golfers within four shots of the lead.
Did you know China’s Yi Cao put himself in position to make a run at victory Sunday with his bogey-free, 5-under 66 Saturday? Cao made three birdies on his opening nine and added two more on the back. He’s at 10-under for the tournament.
How the Canadians are faring
Wil Bateman and Jared du Toit continue to lead the Canadian contingent. Bateman is tied for fifth, with du Toit tied for eighth. Chis Crisologo posted a 66 for the second straight round to keep making progress. He will enter the final round three behind the leaders.
|T5||Wil Bateman||65-67-68 (13-under)|
|T8||Jared du Toit||65-67-69 (12-under)|
|T12||Chris Crisologo||70-66-66 (11-under)|
|T21||James Allenby||68-67-69 (9-under)|
|T33||Joey Savoie||70-68-68 (7-under)|
|T33||Chris R. Wilson||68-68-70 (7-under)|
|T36||Cougar Collins||67-69-71 (6-under)|
|T42||Jamie Sadlowski||69-67-72 (5-under)|
|T42||Max Sear||69-68-71 (5-under)|
|T52||Jimmy Jones||70-68-71 (4-under)|
|T56||Michael Blair||69-67-74 (3-under)|
|61||Riley Wheeldon||67-71-73 (2-under)|
|62||Tony Gil||67-71-74 (1-under)|
Fortinet Cup Standings
(Through Royal Beach Victoria Open)
|1||Scott Stevens (U.S.)||500|
|2||Jake Knapp (U.S.)||300|
|3||Cooper Dossey (U.S.)||190|
|4||Joey Savoie (Canada)||135|
|T5||Etienne Papineau (Canada)||105|
|T5||Nolan Ray (U.S.)||105|
|T7||Brett Bennett (U.S.)||85|
|T7||Jeffrey Kang (U.S.)||85|
|T7||Cooper Musselman (U.S.)||85|
|T10||Michael Blair (Canada)||70|
|T10||Chris Crisologo (Canada)||70|
|T10||Ian Holt (U.S.)||70|
Jorge Villar has quite a streak going. He’s not had a bogey in 45 consecutive holes. “I’m following my gameplan that I did on the practice rounds, trying to keep the ball on the fairway and being aggressive just hitting the greens,” Villar said. “I’ll have many opportunities to make birdies, but I’m just letting it go.”
Trent Phillips, a recently turned pro, had two amateur victories in 2021. He won the collegiate Williams Cup by six strokes. His most-prestigious triumph happened one year ago Sunday when he won the Sunnehanna Amateur on Father’s Day, taking down Ian Siebers by a stroke. In February, Phillips, who played collegiately at the University of Georgia and reached as high as No. 10 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, finished regulation at the Florida Gators Invitational tied with Ryan Hall and Andrew Kozan, with Kozan winning the title in overtime.
Derek Oland is a Korn Ferry Tour member from Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Unable to get in the field this week at the Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics in Kansas, Oland is making his PGA TOUR Canada debut. He’s tied for 12th through 54 holes. Oland has only played one Korn Ferry Tour tournament this season, missing the cut at the Veritex Bank Championship in Arlington, Texas, in April. Oland had an interesting two days at Texas Rangers Golf Club. He opened with a 5-over 76 then rebounded with a 63 only to miss the cut by two shots.
Canada’s Chris Crisologo, tied for 10th in the Fortinet Cup standings after one tournament, has had a solid start to his season. After shooting four par-or-better rounds to qualify at the Tour’s Qualifying Tournament in suburban Tacoma, Washington, in April, Crisologo had three under-par rounds and a final-round, even-par 70 at the season-opening Royal Beach Victoria Open. He’s been under-par in each of the first three rounds this week (70-66-66).
Through five holes of his third round, former Clemson star Bryson Nimmer was 2-over, with a pair of bogeys and three pars. He turned it on after that. Playing the Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club’s back nine first, he made four consecutive birdies, starting at No. 16 then added additional birdies on Nos. 4 and 6 and on his closing hole, No. 9. His 5-under 66 helped him improve 28 scoreboard positions, into a tie for 21st heading into the final round.
Another big mover was Cameron Sisk, who joined Nimmer in moving up 28 positions with a third-round score of 66. The former Arizona State Sun Devil tied eight others for the lowest round of the day. He’s now 9-under and in a tie for 21st place.
Once again, inclement weather played a role in the day’s play. “The weather never really got warm. It’s nice now, but early it was a little cooler, a little more wind,” said Trent Phillips. “There’s some tough flags. I think that all kind of factored in.”
Parker Coody joined PGA TOUR Canada two ways. He enjoyed a tie-for-sixth finish at the Dothan, Alabama, Qualifying Tournament in mid-March to ensure he had a place to play this summer. The former Texas Longhorn then finished 13th in the final PGA TOUR University rankings. His twin brother, Pierceson, was the No. 1-ranked player on the PGA TOUR U. standings and is currently on the Korn Ferry Tour. While Parker is tied for 12th in Edmonton, Pierceson is tied for 10th at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics. He is seven shots behind 54-hole leader Norman Xiong.
The Players say…
“It feels good. I’ve been playing pretty good the last three months now. This is what I work for, every day practicing to be in contention. I think it’s time to be there.” — Jorge Villar
“You want to keep yourself in the tournament and give yourself a chance to win on Sunday, and hopefully I’ll be right there.” — Trent Phillips
“Coming straight out here and playing well, I think, is pretty encouraging.” — Joe Highsmith on making the transition from college golf
“I think you just kind of stick to what you know and what you’ve been doing and don’t really let what’s going on around you affect you much.” — Jonathan Hardee
“At the end of the day you’re just playing golf. It doesn’t really matter who you are playing against, and I feel confident that I can compete with people.” —Trent Phillips
Third-Round Weather: Intermittent showers under mostly cloudy conditions all day. High of 23. Wind NNW at 3-6 kph.