Brian Decker – PGA Tour Canada
August 8, 2013, Calgary, AB (ISN) – Meridian, Idaho’s Joe Panzeri carded a bogey-free 69 on Thursday at Country Hills Golf Club to take a three stroke lead heading into Friday’s final round of the ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS, his second 54-hole lead at the tournament in as many years.
The 27-year old Panzeri built his lead thanks to some clutch par saves and otherwise solid ballstriking to card one of just two bogey free rounds on a much tougher day for scoring than the first two rounds in Calgary.
Third round Leaderboard – ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS
“This is what we play for, to get in the mix and try and get a win,” said Panzeri, whose lone win on PGA TOUR Canada came in 2011 at the Dakota Dunes Open. “Every time you either win or don’t win, hopefully you learn from that. I feel like I learned from my one win and a few of the others ones whether I was in the lead or in the hunt. I feel like I’m learning and tomorrow’s another good chance to learn some more.”
Panzeri started the day tied with Hilton Head Island, South Carolina’s Chris Epperson, but pulled away from the field with birdies on the 10th and 13th holes to reach 15-under par total. Epperson and Burlington, Ontario’s Michael Gligic, who shot 69 on Thursday, enter Friday’s final round three behind Panzeri at 12-under par.
Panzeri credited his solid round to some timely par saves, including one on the par-5 7th where he found the hazard with his second shot but was able to save par.
“I made a couple of really good pars. After hitting in the hazard on 7, dropping and making five there was definitely a momentum hole,” said Panzeri. “Guys are making four there, and if I had made six that would have been tough. To save par there, and on 9 and 14, that was really big.”
One shot behind Gligic and Epperson was a group of five players at 11-under par, including Kyle Stough, who shared the round of the day with Derek Gillespie at 66, as well as Lucas Lee, Nick Taylor, Max Scodro and Kevin Tucker.
Panzeri will look to improve over last year’s ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS, when he took a one-shot advantage into the final round before shooting 71 to finish third at Windermere Golf Club in Edmonton.
Gligic looks for repeat of 2012 triumph
Just under 14 months removed from his first PGA TOUR Canada win at the 2012 ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS, Michael Gligic will look to repeat his breakthrough win on Friday, though the 23-year old admits it’s a bit different this time around.
Last year, Gligic was in the third-to-last group and posted the clubhouse lead well before Matt Marshall tied him, with the Burlington, Ontario native eventually prevailing in a playoff. This time, however, Gligic will be in the day’s final group along with Panzeri and Epperson, and will be trying to chase down Panzeri right from the start of the final round.
“Joe’s a good player as everyone knows and I expect him to put up a low one,” said Gligic. “It’s a one-day golf tournament now and I’m down by a few. Hopefully I go three lower than he does and maybe we’ll get to play 19 holes tomorrow.”
Just one of two players to shoot rounds in the 60s all three rounds so far, Gligic said he’s a few putts away from playing some of his best golf.
“If I could hit like I did today again tomorrow I would take it in a heartbeat,” said Gligic. “The putts will drop. If I could hit the ball like this every day I think I’ll have a good future.”
Country Hills toughens up with cooler weather
Cool, wet weather and a changing wind direction made the Talons Course at Country Hills much tougher on day three, with just 11 players breaking 70 on Thursday compared to 67 on Wednesday.
“With the wind direction change, it was definitely a different course,” said Panzeri. “You had different clubs off the tee, different clubs into the greens, different lines off the tee. You just had to play a little bit smarter. There were a lot of crosswinds and you had to really commit to your lines.”
“The ball was spinning a lot more and obviously you weren’t getting the roll out that you were getting the first two days in the fairways,” said Gligic.
– Overcast, 15 degrees Celsius, wind 15 km/h
– Tee times have been moved up for Friday’s final round, with players going off both tees in threesomes starting at 7:30 AM. The final group of Panzeri, Epperson and Gligic will tee off at 9:09 AM
– Panzeri and Gligic are the only two players to shoot in the 60s all three rounds
– Gligic had the longest drive of the day, a 346-yard bomb on the par-5 7th
– No 54-hole leader has gone on to win on PGA TOUR Canada in 2013, but Panzeri’s three-shot advantage is the largest lead through three rounds on Tour this season
– Gligic is looking to become the first player to defend his title since Brian Kontak at the 1998/99 Henry Singer Alberta Open, and the first player to win in back-to- back seasons since Adam Hadwin in 2010 and 2011