July 7, 2013, Saskatoon, SK (ISN) – Abbotsford, British Columbia’s Nick Taylor shot a 5-under par 67 at Dakota Dunes Golf Links Friday to take a one shot lead heading into the final round of the Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel. Taylor’s four birdies in the final six holes, including the 18th, gave him a one shot lead over South Africa’s Jaco Ahlers.
Taylor, perhaps the hottest player in Canada this season, will be in search of his first PGA TOUR Canada win on Sunday, and will also be looking to become the first Canadian to win in PGA TOUR Canada’s inaugural season.
“I thought I hit it really well today,” said Taylor, who had five straight Vancouver Golf Tour wins this Spring along with two playoff losses to go with a tie for fourth at the Times Colonist Island Savings Open in June. “I hit a lot of good shots on the back nine and made some putts, too. I’m excited for tomorrow.”
The third round of the Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel was delayed by four hours due to dangerous weather in the Saskatoon area and resumed at 12:40 PM local time. Taylor did not tee off until 5:00 PM, but said the rush to try and finish before dark helped get him in a rhythm.
“We were just trying to finish,” said Taylor, who rolled in a birdie on the 18th as dusk began to fall. “I knew teeing off at five we had a chance, and once we made the turn we started flying. I think that helped (playing partner Matt Hoffman) and I, I started to make some putts and it helped me get in a bit of a groove.”
At 19-under par through 54 holes, Taylor said he would keep employing the same strategy on Sunday that earned him the lead heading into Sunday, even with several birdie holes awaiting contenders at Dakota Dunes’ finishing holes.
“On (par-5s) 16 and 18 all week I’ve laid up. Obviously if I need to make birdies coming in that might change my strategy, but hopefully I’ll just play solid all day,” said Taylor.
Dakota Dunes bares its teeth:
While the first two days of the Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel were a birdie-fest, winds and on-and-off rain made conditions more difficult in round 3. There were only 54 rounds over par from the 156-player field the first two rounds, but 38 of the 67 players who made the cut shot over par on Saturday.
“Today wore everybody a little thin I imagine with the weather,” said Wil Collins, who shot 70 to sit tied for third at 15-under par. “We’re all used to making birdies. I think with perfect weather for two days, more or less it was a trick on the psyche.”
With one round to go, 36-hole leader Jaco Ahlers said the weather could play a factor again in Sunday’s final round.
“It all depends on the weather, that’s everything,” said Ahlers. “If the weather plays a part tomorrow, then you’ve got to shoot low like the first two days. If it’s windy again, then it’s going to be a good tussle.
Players get creative playing the waiting game:
With thunderstorms moving through the Saskatoon area on Saturday morning, play was delayed by four hours and the final pairing of Jaco Ahlers and Doug McGuigan teed off at 5:10 PM. With nearly a whole day to wait before teeing off, many players were forced to find ways to stay amused until their tee times. Ahlers said he enjoyed the Van Wilder series of movies, while Taylor found a different way to stay competitive with roommate Joel Dahmen, who began the day in sixth place, and friends.
“We just kind of hung out in the room and one of our buddies brought a Nintendo 64,” said Taylor. “My game’s a little rusty in Mario Kart and I haven’t played for a couple of years, but I’m still pretty good.”
– Jae-Woo Im had the second hole-in-one of the 2013 season, holing a 7-iron on the 176-yard par-3 15th.
– 11 players have shot in the 60s all three rounds – Nick Taylor, Dan Buchner, John Ellis, George Bradford, Joshua Creel, Tyler Weworski, Chris Epperson, Josh Persons, Russell Surber, Nathan Tyler and Matt Richardson
– Final round tee times have been moved up to a 10 AM start with players going off in threesomes off the first and 10th tees. The final group of Taylor, Ahlers and Dan Buchner will go off the first tee at 11:50 AM.
– Chile’s Hugo Leon made the biggest jump of the day, going from a tie for 38th to a tie for 15th with a 68.
– Click here for photos from round 3 of the Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel