September 7, 2013, Sydney, NS – Lincoln, England’s David Skinns shot a 5-under par 67 Saturday to take a two shot lead heading into the final round of the Cape Breton Celtic Classic, mastering windy conditions and tying the best round of the day.
Skinns, who held the 54-hole lead earlier this year at the Times Colonist Island Savings Open before finishing tied for fourth, was two shots ahead of Vancouver, British Columbia’s Ryan Williams and 36-hole leader Joel Dahmen of Clarkston, Washington.
“I looked at the forecast yesterday and knew if I could shoot a good round I would move up the leaderboard,” said Skinns of his 67, which featured eight birdies and three bogeys. “Whenever the wind blows it plays harder. It all depended what Joel did. If he went out and went crazy again, I wouldn’t really move up at all.”
Starting the day at 9-under par in third place, the 31-year old PGA TOUR Canada rookie shot an even-par 36 on the front nine before making birdie on his final three holes to post a bogey-free 31 on the back to reach 14-under. Williams and Dahmen also birdied the par-5 18th to reach 12-under to sit tied for second.
“It’s big to finish like that,” said Skinns. “You’ve got two reachable par-5s in there, so you hope to birdie them anyway, but I made a nice birdie on 17. That gives me a nice bit of momentum for tomorrow.”
At 20th on the Order of Merit, Skinns said he was trying not to focus on the ramifications of a victory on Sunday that would vault him inside the top five on the Order of Merit.
“You try not to think about it, but sometimes it’s impossible,” said Skinns. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to play good golf, and whatever happens happens.”
Six shots behind Skinns in a tie for sixth was a group of four players including Montreal, Quebec’s Yohann Benson, Dundas, Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes, Scottsdale, Arizona’s Brandon Harkins and Cincinnati, Ohio’s Wes Homan.
Williams looking to put frustrating year behind him
After struggling all season with nagging injuries, Ryan Williams said he was looking forward to an opportunity on Sunday to make up for what has been a trying year on the golf course. With just two made cuts on the season, the 32-year old sits 119th on the Order of Merit, one year after finishing a career-best 20th in 2012.
“All the hockey I played when I was younger is finally catching up to me,” said Williams, a former professional hockey player who later turned his attention to the links. “Unfortunately for me I was injured right off the bat in Victoria and I didn’t really have time to rest. It’s been a bit of a struggle this year for sure.”
Williams matched the best round of the day with a 5-under par 67 Saturday and will play in the final group with Skinns at 12:30 PM on Sunday.
Dahmen battles through nerves, windy conditions
With a 1-over par 73, 36-hole leader Joel Dahmen saw his three stroke lead vanish on Saturday, but said he was happy to learn from the experience and satisfied with the opportunity to contend in Sunday’s final round.
“I kept waiting for the nerves to come, and I got on the first tee and they weren’t really there. Then I hit in the trees and I got a little nervous for the middle stretch there, but I held it together nicely and I handled them well,” said Dahmen, who capped his round with a two-putt birdie at the last. The 25-year old said the windy conditions dried out what had been a soft golf course and posed a much tougher challenge than the first two days.
“It was a totally different golf course today, and for the first time all week it was dry and balls were bouncing,” said Dahmen, who said he was looking forward to the challenge of the final round on Sunday. “If somebody said I was two back heading to Sunday, I’d take it.”
– Weather: Sunny, 18 degrees Celsius, winds 30 km/h gusting to 40 km/h
– Skinns is the only player on PGA TOUR Canada this season to take the 54-hole lead in multiple events this year
– With Joe Panzeri, Riley Wheeldon, Mark Hubbard and Hugo Leon shooting over par rounds on Saturday, no players inside The Five were in the top-10 heading to Sunday.
– Skinns (67-68-67) and Williams (69-68-67) are the only players to shoot in the 60s all three days
– Roger Furrer, the only player not to complete 36 holes before play was suspended due to darkness Friday, made par on his last hole of the second round Saturday morning to make the cut on the number