Matt Harmon is looking to improve his 10th place standing on the Order of Merit (Josh Schaefer/PGA TOUR)
July 5,2014(ISN)- Saskatoon – With his young family on hand for the first time in his career, Grand Haven, Michigan’s Matt Harmon cruised to a 9-under par 63 on Saturday at Dakota Dunes Golf Links, opening up a five stroke lead heading into the final round of the Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel.
The 29-year old and his wife Pagiel have their new son Eli, who turns 10 weeks old on Sunday, at a tournament for the first time this week in Saskatoon, and so far the trip has been a successful one. Harmon’s 63 put him five strokes ahead of Sweden’s Robert Karlsson heading into the final round, six ahead of Moscow, Idaho’s Chris Williams.
“It’s our first family trip, so this is very relaxing,” said Harmon, who ranks 10th on the Order of Merit with two top-10s in three starts. “My guesses were right with the bounces and things went right for me, and I made more putts than I did any of the other days.”
Harmon carded seven birdies on the day, including on two of his final three holes, to go with an eagle to reach 18-under par through 54 holes. The former Michigan State Spartan played the Web.com Tour in 2012 and 2013 and is looking to make his way back starting with a win at Dakota Dunes tomorrow.
“I was telling my caddie today, I think I have a few more life experiences than some other guys in the field,” said Harmon, whose best finish on the Web.com Tour was second at the 2012 TPC Stonebrae Championship. “It’s just golf out here. When you get it going, you just kind of relax and let it go.”
Harmon said that having his family here has made things easier than the first three events, when he played well but had his mind back home with his new family.
“It was tough the play those first three events having to leave my wife to do everything, but she’s awesome, so it’s been great,” Harmon said. “I’m going to come out tomorrow and hopefully keep doing what I did today.”
Karlsson shot a 7-under 65 to hold second place alone, while Chris Williams, formerly the world’s highest-ranked amateur and a Ben Hogan Award winner at the University of Washington, shot 64 to grab third place heading into the final round.
KARLSSON HOPING TO MAKE A NAME FOR HIMSELF
Kalmar, Sweden’s Robert Karlsson is used to being mistaken on leaderboards for the 11-time European Tour winner and former Ryder Cup player of the same name. With a strong start to his first PGA TOUR Canada season, however, the 25-year old is well on the way to making a name for himself.
Karlsson, who has finished in the top-10 each of the last two weeks on PGA TOUR Canada, finished with an eagle at the par-5 18th on Saturday to sit second through 54 holes.
“It has happened a lot of times,” said Karlsson, admitting the confusion usually disappears when fans see he stands eight inches shorter than his 6’5″ fellow countryman, 19 years his senior. “Before they meet me they might think so, but not when they see me.”
Currently 11th on the Order of Merit, Karlsson’s start to his first season on PGA TOUR Canada has been a strong one, and could become an outstanding one with a solid finish tomorrow.
“The game feels good and my confidence is getting better and better,” Karlsson said. “Nothing special so far, but very few mistakes, and when I’ve made a mistake I’ve been taking my medicine.”
FLEMING MAKES THE MOST OF MOVING DAY
Airdrie, Alberta’s made the most of his moving day on Saturday, using a wild eagle-par-birdie-eagle stretch on holes 13-16 to shoot a 7-under 65 and share fifth place through 54 holes with eight other players.
The 20-year old, who claimed his first professional victory two weeks ago at the Alberta Open (which he also won as an amateur in 2013), missed the cut in his first three starts on PGA TOUR Canada and said he’s been slowly getting more comfortable as a pro, and is starting to see it pay off this week.
“I’m just been kind of building confidence,” Fleming said, adding that a few words of advice from former PGA of Alberta champion Darryl James gave him a fresh outlook this week. “I consider him a mentor, and he told me there’s no reason I shouldn’t be doing the same kind of thing out here as I did at the Alberta Open. I hadn’t really been adjusting and wasn’t believing in myself enough, so that kind of woke me up a little bit.”
Fleming’s strong back nine run started when he drove the par-4 13th green and sunk a 10-foot eagle putt. He capped it by hitting a 3-iron from 270 yards on the par-5 16th to 35 feet short of the hole and rolling in the subsequent putt from just off the green.