Five-Shot Lead Intact as Yi Cao Eyes His First PGA TOUR Canada Victory
Brainerd, Minnesota – The CRMC Championship presented by Gertens is heating up in Brainerd, Minnesota, and Yi Cao from Delta, British Columbia, is not just holding on to his lead but extending it. After three rounds, he remains the player to catch, sporting an impressive 17-under score. Cao’s spectacular performance could see him leap from No. 55 to No. 9 on the Fortinet Cup standings if he clinches his maiden PGA TOUR Canada victory.
Cao’s Focused Approach
Yi Cao’s strategy was crystal clear: ignore the leaderboard and concentrate on his own game. He refrained from checking scores throughout the day, maintaining his singular focus. As the day concluded, Cao finally glanced at the leaderboard, only to find that his substantial five-shot lead remained unchallenged. With each passing round, he inches closer to a potentially career-defining win.
Steady Progress for Cao
Cao’s round was marked by consistency and precision. His 5-under 65 on the Cragun’s Dutch Legacy Course showcased his steady play. He secured birdies at No. 3 and 4 and added more at No. 16, 17, and 18. Impressively, he kept his card free from bogeys, illustrating his composure.
Cao’s Remarkable Birdie Putt
Cao’s round featured a memorable moment with a 30-foot birdie putt at the 15th hole. Recalling the moment, he said, “I played really steady, really solid, just a couple of putts that wouldn’t drop, just turn at the edge or burn the edge a few times… I’m like, I’ll take that.”
Neck Pain Doesn’t Deter Cao
Despite experiencing persistent neck pain, Cao remained undaunted. He continued to compete with determination, as he had in the previous two days. Cao expressed his gratitude, saying, “Grateful to finish another 18 today, which is awesome… We’ll see what happens.”
Sam Jean’s Pursuit
In second place, Sam Jean from Greenwood, Indiana, is chasing Cao, five strokes adrift at 12-under. Jean delivered a stunning round of 6-under 64, marked by two eagles. His second-hole eagle, a hole-out from 75 yards, and the dramatic eagle on the 18th, with an emphatic fist pump, highlighted his exceptional performance.
Hayden Springer Sets Record
Last week’s tournament winner, Hayden Springer from Trophy Club, Texas, made a remarkable move into third place with a tournament-record 9-under 61 in the third round. His fantastic round included a 31 on the front nine and a scorching 30 on the back, featuring birdies on five of the last six holes. Springer’s performance catapulted him 22 spots up the leaderboard into third place.
Battle for Fourth Place
Tied for fourth place at 10-under are Jeffrey Kang, who carded a third-round 63, and Blake Tomlinson, who recorded a 66, moving up 12 and three spots, respectively. Kang’s round was marked by eagles on two par-5s and birdies on two par-3s.
Six Players Share Sixth Place
In a crowded sixth place at 8-under, five players share the spot: Travis Trace, Gavin Hall, Davis Shore, J.T. Griffin, and Brendan MacDougall.
Fortinet Cup Standings Update
Here’s an update on the Fortinet Cup standings through the CentrePort Canada Rail Park Manitoba Open:
- Sam Choi (United States) – 1,210 points.
- Davis Lamb (United States) – 1,117 points.
- Étienne Papineau (Canada) – 944 points.
- Stuart Macdonald (Canada) – 707 points.
- John Pak (United States) – 690 points.
- Devon Bling (United States) – 639 points.
- Hayden Springer (United States) – 630 points.
- Chris Korte (United States) – 593 points.
- Davis Shore (United States) – 567 points.
- David Kim (United States) – 443 points.
Top Contenders in the Fortinet Cup Standings
Fortinet Cup points leader Sam Choi recorded his second consecutive 67 and is now tied for 15th. Second-placed Davis Lamb shot his second-straight 68 and moved into a tie for 41st. John Pak, sitting at No. 5 on the points list, shot 68 and is tied for 44th.
Cao’s Commanding Lead
Yi Cao’s five-shot lead heading into the final round is the largest lead held by any player after 54 holes this season. A substantial lead similar to this one has previously led to victory, as demonstrated by Davis Lamb in the ATB Classic earlier this year.
History Favours Third-Round Leaders
Throughout the season, six out of the eight PGA TOUR Canada events have seen the third-round leader go on to win. While the competition remains fierce, the leader after the third round often proves to be the one to beat.
- Jeffrey Kang recorded two eagles during his third round, the second time he’s achieved this feat this season.
- Reid Davenport had a challenging third round after starting the day tied for second place. Despite a double-bogey and bogey early in his round, he finished tied for 21st with a 1-over 72.
Fortinet Cup Championship Implications
With the Fortinet Cup Championship just around the corner, players are vying for a spot in the top 60 on the Fortinet Cup points list. This earns them an opportunity to compete in next week’s championship. Notably, several players are projected to move into the top 60, while others are set to move out based on their performance.
Quotable Moments from the Players
- Hayden Springer on his approach: “The best thing I can do is have no expectations… I have to take it one shot at a time and I’ll do the absolute best that I can on each and every shot and see what happens.”
- Hayden Springer on the top five: “What everybody is shooting for is our top five. That’s really the threshold to get some Korn Ferry starts… I definitely want to finish in the top five.”
- Travis Trace on his improved putting: “I’ve worked really hard on the putting, switched a couple of things. It was kind of just mindset a little bit. I knew my game was good, so I just keep trucking along.”
- Sam Jean on his strategy: “I’m definitely not trying to chase (Yi Cao). Just trying to hit good quality shots, roll good quality putts and if the score is lower than his tomorrow, great… I think trying to chase stuff is not good.”
Third-Round Weather: A heat advisory was in effect with sunny conditions and a high of 92°F (33°C). Mild winds blew from the south at 5-10 mph (8-16 kph).