BRAINERD, Minnesota – SPORTS – If the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens comes down to the final three holes Sunday, the safe bet is on Jake Knapp. The leader heading into the final round is a combined 12-under on Nos. 16, 17 and 18 this week, and it’s those holes that have helped him to get to 20-under through 54 holes at the PGA TOUR Canada event at Cragun’s Legacy Courses.
Knapp, looking for his third career PGA TOUR Canada title, has a one-shot lead over Trent Phillips (19-under). Conner Godsey and first- and second-round leader Alexander Herrmann are tied for third, at 18-under.
An eagle on the par-5 16th was what Knapp said was his shot of the day on an afternoon when he had plenty of highlights.
“I hit what I thought was a great drive and ended up in the right rough and had to dodge a few trees,” Knapp said. “But I ended with kind of a perfect cut (shot).”
Using a 2-iron, the former UCLA Bruin kept his ball low, under a few branches, and turned in a great shot, the ball landing on the green and rolling about 20 feet.
“I finally got a putt to drop. So that was nice,” Knapp said of his subsequent make. “I made a lot of pars there for a while. So, it was nice to see one go in.”
It was Knapp’s fifth eagle of the tournament, tying a PGA TOUR Canada record with still 18 holes to play.
Knapp had a run of six consecutive pars before the eagle. He finished with a round of 61, collecting seven birdies along the way and a front nine score of 29. His 61 is the third of the tournament, joining Herrmann and Phillips, who also turned in 9-under rounds this week. Prior to Saturday’s round, Knapp’s career-low PGA TOUR Canada 18-hole round was a 63, something he had done twice—most recently at this season’s first event, the Royal Beach Victoria Open.
“I’m trying to stay super patient. I tried to stay really, really patient here all week,” Knapp said. “I really didn’t think the scores were going to be this low. But the course is kind of soft, and it’s let me hit shots a little closer to some of these holes.”
Momentum, he added, is huge.
“I’ve seen a few putts go in and had a few bounces go (my) way,” Knapp said. “It definitely makes a difference.”
The winner Sunday receives 500 Fortinet Cup points and $36,000.
Did you know Jake Knapp won two PGA TOUR Canada tournaments in 2019? Knapp won the season-opening Canada Life Open and the GolfBC Championship. This season, his best performance was a runner-up showing at the Royal Beach Victoria Open, losing in a playoff to Scott Stevens. Knapp also placed third at the Quebec Open.
How the top Canadians fared
Edmonton’s Wil Bateman and Myles Creighton of Digby, Nova Scotia headline players from Canada after three rounds. They are sixth and tied for seventh, respectively.
|6||Wil Bateman||63-65-66—194 (16-under)|
|T7||Myles Creighton||65-68-62—195 (15-under)|
|T23||Stuart Macdonald||68-65-65—198 (12-under)|
|T23||Joey Savoie||64-67-67—198 (12-under)|
|T31||Jared du Toit||65-67-68—199 (10-under)|
|T42||Noah Steele||68-67-67—202 (8-under)|
|T47||Michael Blair||64-70-69—203 (7-under)|
|T51||Etienne Papineau||68-65-71—204 (6-under)|
Fortinet Cup Standings
(Through CentrePort Canada Rail Park Manitoba Open)
|Rank||Player||Points||Third-Round Tournament Pos.||Projected Position|
|1||Wil Bateman (Canada)||731||6||2|
|2||Danny Walker (U.S.)||720||Missed Cut||3|
|3||Brian Carlson (U.S.)||663||Missed Cut||8|
|4||Scott Stevens (U.S.)||626||T18||6|
|5||Ian Holt (U.S.)||620||T18||7|
|6||Ryan Gerard (U.S.)||597||5||4|
|7||Parker Coody (U.S.)||555||T51||10|
|8||Noah Goodwin (U.S.)||520||T47||12|
|9||Jake Knapp (U.S.)||514||1||1|
|10||Thomas Walsh (U.S.)||508||T7||9|
With Jake Knapp starting the week No. 9 in the Fortinet Cup standings, he is projected to take over the top spot if he goes on to win. Current leader Wil Bateman may have something to say about that. He’s still in the hunt, alone in sixth place, four strokes behind Knapp with 18 holes to play.
Jake Knapp has never held a third-round lead in a PGA TOUR Canada event until this week. In his two previous PGA TOUR Canada victories, he held the first- and second-round leads at the 2019 Golf BC Championship but came from a shot off the lead on the final day to win by a stroke. At the 2019 Canada Life Open in Vancouver, Knapp was in second place through 18 and 36 holes and tied for fourth, five shots behind leader James Allenby, through 54 holes. Knapp went on to win by two strokes.
In his six PGA TOUR Canada starts this season, Trent Phillips has made five cuts. In the previous four tournaments where he played on the weekend, he enjoyed stellar third rounds. That didn’t change Saturday, with his 8-under 62. In his previous four third rounds, he has posted scores of 67-67-64-64. Phillips, a former University of Georgia All-American, is a combined 32-under in his third rounds this season. With a 65.5 third-round average, he leads the Tour. Of players who have made the cut at least four times, Phillips has an average two strokes ahead of Brendan MacDougall and Harrison Ott.
Entering this week, Jeffrey Kang, Joe Highsmith and Luke Schniederjans shared the lead for the most eagles this season: eight. Jake Knapp now has 10 eagles this season. With Kang withdrawing from the CRMC Championship presented by Gertens and Schniederjans missing the cut without recording an eagle, Knapp is tied with Highsmith for the top spot. Highsmith has made two eagles this week.
This week, Jake Knapp became the fifth player in PGA TOUR Canada history to make five eagles in a tournament. The other four are Theo Humphrey (2018 Windsor Championship), Ryan Elmore (2018 Elk Ridge Open), Joel Dahmen (2014 Wildfire Invitational) and Kelvin Day (2014 Great Waterway Classic).
Ian Holt holds the record for most eagles in a season, with 16 in 2019. That season, Jake Knapp finished third in Eagles, with 13. In his PGA TOUR Canada career, he has made 28 eagles.
Ryan Gerard and Fortinet Cup points leader Wil Bateman are still in contention as they look to become the first player with multiple wins this season. Gerard will begin the final round three shots back of Jake Knapp, at 17-under, while Bateman is at 16-under. The other 2022 winners’ standing after 54 holes: Scott Stevens (tied for 18th). Noah Goodwin (tied for 47th) Parker Coody (tied for 51st).
Jake Knapp insists it wasn’t on purpose. He wore a purple shirt on Saturday. In Minnesota, that’s usually a show of support for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. “It’s not, unfortunately,” said the Southern California native. “But I do have a (fantasy league) draft on Sunday. so maybe I’ll be drafting a few of the Vikings guys.”
Weather was a bit of a factor. It rained and it was sunny. “Good thing it wasn’t too long,” said Trent Phillips. “But the wind kind of swirled a little bit here and there and made shots a little more difficult.” However, he added, “It wasn’t too bad.”
Saturday’s top climber was Austin Hitt, who shot a 63 to move up 27 positions on the leaderboard and into a tie for 23rd, at 12-under. Derek Oland climbed 22 spots and is at 11-under (tied for 28th). Canadian Myles Creighton fired a 62 to jump into a tie for seventh, at 15-under.
Jordan Niebrugge (6-under) and Devin Morley (5-under) are the lone Monday qualifiers still playing the tournament. This season 18 of 60 qualifiers (28 percent) have survived the cut.
From the Locker Room…
“When you’re playing well, everything seems much easier.” — Jake Knapp
“I kept myself in the tournament. Maybe I didn’t get one or two shots on the back nine out of it. I didn’t quite squeeze everything out of the round today.” — Alexander Herrmann
“When I’m playing my best golf, I’m not really doing anything too spectacular. I’m just kind of living, breathing and swinging the golf club.” — Trent Phillips
“Golf is such a game. There’s so much momentum involved. So once you start feeling good you can try to ride it.” — Conner Godsey
“The first day I was kind of banging my head against the wall, and even going back to last week just missing the cut by one I just felt like there was a lid on the hole. I felt like I was starting to see the (putting) lines a little better yesterday and was able to begin and put up a good one today.”— Austin Hitt
Third-Round Weather: Cloudy giving way, at times, to partly sunny. Rain fell intermittently, with the course receiving .2 inches. High of 79. Wind S at 8-11 mph.