July 20, 2013, Winnipeg, MB (ISN) – Tucson, Arizona’s Nathan Tyler shot a 3-under par 69 Saturday at Pine Ridge Golf Club to take a two stroke lead over Dundas, Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes and Elgin, Illinois’ Carlos Sainz, Jr. heading into the final round of The Players Cup.
Tyler, a PGA TOUR Canada rookie in 2013, is looking to continue a successful season that has seen him make each cut on PGA TOUR Canada and win three times on the All-American Gateway Tour.
Third round Leaderboard – The Players Cup
(Bold denotes Canadian)
1. Nathan Tyler – 69 (-15)
T-2. Mackenzie Hughes – 70 (-13)
T-2. Carlos Sainz, Jr. – 71 (-13)
4. Hugo Leon – 67 (-12)
T-5. Kent Eger – 67 (-10)
T-5. JJ Spaun – 70 (-10)
“I’m ecstatic. I’m ready to just keep doing what I’m doing,” said Tyler, a 30-year old University of Arizona graduate. “I’ve won a few events this year, so I’m pretty comfortable around the lead.”
Tyler built a two-shot lead with a bogey-free scorecard that saw him reach 15-under par with three birdies on the front nine and nine pars on the back. Sainz, Jr. briefly reached 16-under par, but a bogey on the 11th and a double bogey on the 16th dropped him two back of the lead heading into Sunday.
“I hit the ball absolutely unbelievable today,” said Tyler. “I got nothing out of it because of some pretty gusty winds. I just hope to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully get a little closer for tomorrow.”
Hughes posted three birdies and a bogey for a 2-under 70 and put himself in Sunday’s final group. The Players Cup is Hughes’ first made cut in four events on PGA TOUR Canada this season.
“Today I felt some of the nerves I knew I would feel,” said the 22-year old, who has an exemption into next week’s RBC Canadian Open on the PGA TOUR. “Overall I was pretty pleased with the way I regrouped for the back nine and kept myself in it.”
A shot behind Hughes and Sainz, Jr. was Santiago, Chile’s Hugo Leon, who fired a 5-under par 67 to reach a 12-under total heading into Saturday. Regina, Saskatchewan’s Kent Eger and San Dimas, California’s JJ Spaun were tied for fifth at 10-under par.
Healthy Leon looks to make a run
Finally feeling healthy after getting rid of a nagging hip injury, Chile’s Hugo Leon said he was just happy to be playing good golf again. It showed on Saturday as the 2011 ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS champion shot a 5-under 67 to sit solo fourth heading into the final round.
“I’m thrilled to be playing good golf again,” said Leon, who suffered a right hip injury at the end of the 2011 season and did not play golf for six months. “It’s been a long time since I’ve felt as good as I’m feeling right now. It’s a build-up process. I still don’t take all the aggressive lines that I want to take, but I feel like I’m moving in the right direction finally.”
The 28-year old is squarely in contention for his second career victory and has an outside shot to play himself into the top three on the Order of Merit and earn an RBC Canadian Open exemption with a victory, but said his one and only concern was on getting back to playing good golf.
“I just want to play good,” said Leon. “I don’t care about what place I finish or all that stuff, I just want to play good. If I do that I’ll have a shot.”
RBC Canadian Open spots loom for winner
With the top three on the Order of Merit through The Players Cup gaining entry into the RBC Canadian Open, Sunday’s final round could promise more than the $27,000 winner’s prize. Were he to go on to victory on Sunday, Tyler’s projected earnings would push him inside the top three on the Order of Merit, ahead of no. 3 Stephen Gangluff, who was tied for 54th through Saturday. Below are current and projected earnings totals:
Name Current Earnings (Position) Projected Earnings (Position)
Riley Wheeldon $37,987.50 (1) $39,534.50 (1)
Wil Collins $28,987.50 (2) $32,458.93 (2)
Stephen Gangluff $27,585.00 (3) $28,173.75 (4)
Nathan Tyler $3,584.17 (34) $30,584.17 (3)
– Weather: Partly cloudy, 20 degrees Celsius, winds 10 km/h
– Nathan Tyler (68-64-69) and Hugo Leon (69-68-67) are the only two players in the field to shoot below 70 each day
– Tyler’s two stroke advantage heading into Sunday is tied for the largest 54-hole lead this season with David Skinns at the Times Colonist Island Savings Open
– Nathan Tyler and Wes Heffernan had the longest measured drives of the day, both clocking in at 317 yards on the par-4 11th. Distances are being measured for the field on the 2nd and 11th holes
– The 231-yard par-3 9th continued to be the hardest hole at Pine Ridge through Saturday, averaging 3.53 strokes. Four birdies were made on the hole Saturday, however, bringing the week’s total to seven
– As the low Canadian on the leaderboard, Hughes was in position to earn Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Week honours heading into Sunday
– The final round will begin at 7:30 AM, with the final pairing of Tyler and Hughes going off at 1:10 PM