CARDIGAN, Prince Edward Island, Canada — Now that’s more like it. A day after opening with solo golfers each in first, second and third places, things tightened up at PGA TOUR Canada’s Prince Edward Island Open presented by IMP Solutions.
The Friday leaderboard went through a major overhaul, with Canadian Chris R. Wilson joining Americans Austin Hitt, Luke Schniederjans and Jake Scott sharing the lead, at 9-under, through 36 holes at the Dundarave Golf Course.
As has been the case on the tour this season—with both previous tournaments decided in a playoff—there are several players in contention entering the weekend. Perry Cohen is one shot behind the leaders, while Canada’s Myles Creighton and Americans Benjamin Shipp, Cooper Dossey and Joe Highsmith in close pursuit, at 7-under. Then, just a stroke behind them at 6-under are seven players.
Canada Day was extra special for Wilson. The Toronto native moved up 39 positions in the second round to join the three Americans on top. Wilson shot a 64, making eight birdies in the second round. He noted that this year’s national holiday is up there with the best for him.
“I had a great day out there,” said Wilson, who played collegiately at Colgate. “My body hasn’t been feeling good, but I sort of worked hard to get in shape for this week. I hit a lot of greens today and I made a lot of putts. So, it was a lot of fun out there.”
Wilson added that not having any bogeys was huge as he moved up the board with birdies on holes 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 13, 17 and 18.
“I’m just going to stick with the same game plan, give myself opportunities and trust my putting to help me finish it off,” Wilson said.
Schniederjans and Scott had rounds of 65 to join Hitt and Wilson for the lead. Each moved up 22 positions. Schniederjans is hopeful to do what he did again on the weekend and is looking to secure his first title. A year ago, playing on the Forme Tour, the Georgia Tech product made six cuts in eight starts, including a pair of top-10s early in the season. Schniederjans would like nothing better than to cash the $36,000 check and walk away with the 500 Fortinet Cup points that go to the winner.
Hitt, meanwhile, vows to be aggressive down the stretch. “I learned that on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica,” he said. “That you’ve just got to try and win.” Hitt learned his lesson well. His first- and second-round scoring average in his 12 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica tournaments was 70.50 and 71.25, respectively. On the weekend, he lowered that number to 67.83 (third-round average) and 69.17 (fourth round).
Wilson is new to PGA TOUR Canada, playing in only his third career event. The former Colgate team captain during his college days missed the cut at the Royal Beach Victoria Open then tied for 27th at the ATB Classic presented by Volvo Edmonton.
Did you know that Fortinet Cup points leader Wil Bateman, who won the ATB Classic two weeks ago, is tied for 50th after two rounds at the PEI Open? He made the cut on the number, at 2-under.
The cut came at 2-under 142, with 63 players qualifying for the weekend.
How the Canadians are faring
Ten players from Canada made the cut Friday at the PEI Open. Leading the way is Chris R. Wilson, tied for the 36-hole lead. Myles Creighton is the only other Canadian inside the top 10.
|T1||Chris R. Wilson||71-64 (9-under)|
|T6||Myles Creighton||70-67 (7-under)|
|T24||Andrew Harrison||69-71 (4-under)|
|T24||Drew Nesbitt||65-75 (4-under)|
|T39||Brendan MacDougall||71-70 (3-under)|
|T50||Wil Bateman||73-69 (2-under)|
|T50||Brendan Leonard||73-69 (2-under)|
|T50||Max Sear||72-70 (2-under)|
|T50||Noah Steele||69-73 (2-under)|
|T50||Riley Wheeldon||71-71 (2-under)|
Fortinet Cup Standings
(Through ATB Classic presented by Volvo Edmonton)
|1||Wil Bateman (Canada)||531|
|2||Scott Stevens (U.S.)||500|
|3||Jake Knapp (U.S.)||329|
|T4||Joe Highsmith (U.S.)||245|
|T4||Jorge Villar (Mexico)||245|
|6||Cooper Dossey (U.S.)||226|
|T7||Chris Crisologo (Canada)||150|
|T7||Joey Savoie (Canada)||150|
|9||Jeffrey Kang (U.S.)||133|
|10||Jake Scott (U.S.)||132|
The top improvement Friday came from American Cameron Sisk. The former Arizona State Sun Devil climbed 71 positions with a 66 to make the cut at 2-under. American Lorens Chan was next, with a 69-spot improvement. He also shot at 66 and is now 3-under overall.
Take that No. 16. A day after getting a bogey on the hole, Austin Hitt recorded an eagle this time around. “I needed a little redemption,” he said. Overall, the par-4 16th hole played as the second-easiest hole in the second round, yielding a stroke average of 3.556. Hitt’s was one of five eagles there. Sixty-four other players made birdie.
The par-5 10th hole was the easiest (4.523), while the par-4 13th played as the most-difficult, with a 4.150 stroke average.
Scoring improved dramatically in the second round. There were only 22 rounds in the 60s on Thursday compared to 40 Friday. Fifty-six players had under-par outings in the opening round vs. 85 on day two.
After playing in Mexico last week, Canadian Myles Creighton made sure he took something special with him for Canada Day at the PEI Open. He brought a red shirt. “I didn’t see any of the other Canadian boys wearing (one). So, I’m a little disappointed in them,” he said with a laugh.
First-round leader Justin Doeden had a struggle in the second round. After opening with a 64, he was 12 strokes worse Friday, making 13 pars, one birdie, a double bogey and a triple bogey. He will enter the weekend tied for 25th, but only five strokes back of the leaders.
Dalton Ward is on a bit of a hot streak. He’s opened 70-68 and is tied for 10th at the halfway point. After shooting a closing, 4-over 74 in the final round of the Royal Beach Victortia Open, Ward has peeled off six consecutive under-par rounds—67-68-66-68 in Edmonton—and his start this week.
A year ago on the Forme Tour, Dalton Ward showed he can go low when he fired the Tour’s only 59. On the final day at The Fuzzy Zoeller Classic at Covered Bridge in Sellersburg, Indiana, Ward opened 68-69-69 then hit the magical 59 on the final day, posting eight birdies at two eagles, including a 10-foot eagle putt he made on his 72nd hole to secure the 59.
Harrison Ott (U.S.) was the only Monday qualifier to make the cut. He was on the line at 2-under. The other seven players didn’t make it to the weekend. Their final scores: Art Griffin (3-over), Sudarshan Yellamaraju (4-over), Thomas Code (7-over), Matt Kreutz (7-over), Patrick Sullivan (7-over), Jonathan Hewitt (9-over) and Calvin Ross (12-over).
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Myles Creighton, even if this week’s tournament is six hours away from his native Nova Scotia. “This is as close as I get to home. So, my family is here,” Creighton said. “This is really cool for me just to be in The Maritimes and stuff, it feels good.”
Since winning the Victoria Open, Scott Stevens has now failed to make the cut in the past two tournaments. He fell short at the ATB Classic in Edmonton and wound up missing the mark in PEI, shooting even-par with rounds of 78-66.
The Player’s chip in…
“I didn’t even know I was tied for the lead. You just let me know that.” —Chris R. Wilson during his post-round interview
“Driving and putting are the keys. You are going to give yourself a lot of opportunities that way if you can just get the ball in play and hit some nice shots. (And) rely on the putter the rest of the weekend.” —Austin Hitt
“The course is great. It’s probably the best course I think we’ve played so far.” —Joe Highsmith
“I think the mornings play a little easier on this course. I had a good finish in [Thursday’s] round and knew that if I came out today and played good that it was a day to make up some shots playing in the morning.” —Luke Schniederjans
“These greens have a lot of tilt and some of the pins are pretty tricky. So, this is all you could ask for really.” —Myles Creighton
“I took care of the holes you’re supposed to—the par-5s. I didn’t birdie 10 with an 8-iron in, which was kind of a bummer.” —Myles Creighton
“When I had wedges and good (yardage) numbers, I hit it in there good and was pretty solid inside 10 feet. I missed a few, but, overall, I was happy with the way I putted and the way I was able to hole putts.” —Myles Creighton
“It was nice to finish with 4 on 18. I hit it 50 feet from the pin. Here, it’s up and over something and away from you. I left the first one short and had one coming in. To make that was nice.” —Myles Creighton on his two-putt birdie to finish his round
Second-Round Weather: Partly cloudy, with a high of 24. Wind N at 3-5 kph.