July 13,2014(ISN) – Thanks to two birdies over his final four holes, Las Cruces, New Mexico’s Tim Madigan carded a 3-under 68 at Pine Ridge Golf Club on Saturday to take a two stroke lead through 54 holes at The Players Cup.
Madigan, a 25-year old PGA TOUR Canada rookie, is looking to put the exclamation point on what has been a stellar season so far that includes two top-three finishes. The New Mexico State graduate led by two shots over Fargo, North Dakota’s Josh Persons, who clipped Madigan by a shot to win the Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist last month.
“There are plenty of great players behind me and anyone can play well on this course, so I’m definitely not out of the woods yet,” said Madigan, refusing to get ahead of himself with one round to go. “I just hope the lead gets bigger and bigger.”
Madigan, who earned exempt status on PGA TOUR Canada this spring at the British Columbia Qualifying Tournament, has earned a wealth of experience this season, narrowly missing out on a playoff in Victoria and playing in the final group on Sunday at the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON, where he finished third. Madigan said the experience has helped him to play into contention once again this week.
“Every time you’re near the lead, it definitely gives you an idea of what you need to do the next time,” Madigan said. “I’ve had enough experience with amateur golf, college golf and professional golf that I feel like I can handle it no problem. I still have to play very well because I’ve got a lot of great players behind me.”
Currently sitting fourth on the Order of Merit, Madigan has been knocking on the door for a win for some time now, both on PGA TOUR Canada and elsewhere.
“I hate to put it this way, but I feel like I’m due,” Madigan said. “I’ve been close on the eGolf West Tour and a couple of times on PGA TOUR Canada, so just I feel like it may be my time. I just have to not worry about it. Just get plenty of rest, and just have fun and see where all the chips land.”
Madigan and Persons will play together in the day’s final group, setting up a duel with no shortage of storylines. Persons, currently third on the Order of Merit, will be trying to chase down Madigan to secure a spot in the top three through next week’s Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel.
“I really wanted to play in the last group,” said Persons, who birdied the 18th hole to sit solo second through 54 holes. “It’s where you want to be, and obviously we’re going head-to-head here, so it’ll be fun. I’m going to do the best I can, and if that’s good enough it’s good enough. If it’s not, I’ll shake his hand at the end of the day.”
One shot back of Persons was Edmonds, Washington’s Ricky McDonald, who carded a 1-under 71 to sit 6-under through three rounds.
KILLMER FEELING GOOD VIBES IN WINNIPEG
With a 6-under 65 on Saturday, 2012 The Players Cup Champion Chris Killmer carded the round of the day at Pine Ridge Golf Club, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Bellingham, Washington native is making his first start of the season this week on a sponsor’s exemption, and a solid finish would go a long way this week towards saving his PGA TOUR Canada season.
“[Tournament Director] Ryan Hart gave me an exemption to get my first start of the year, and it’s been kind of a frustrating year in that respect,” admitted Killmer, whose round of 65 moved him up 52 spots into a tie for sixth. “To get out here and see all my friends and to play with the guys has been great.”
The 27-year old knows how much a solid finish on Sunday would do for him, with the opportunity to finish in the top-20 and get into next week’s Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel and move up the conditional members’ re-shuffle, improving his chances of getting into events later this season. Playing in front of friendly faces in Winnipeg, however, has helped Killmer to not worry about the ramifications of the week and to focus on good play.
“To come back to Winnipeg, with so many great memories here with the staff, the course, I think it’s something I really used to ease a lot of the pressure I felt like I was putting on myself with this being my first event of the year,” said Killmer, who is employing some local knowledge with his caddie Josh Shuster, a junior member at Pine Ridge whose popularity amongst the fans might rival any player in the field.
“He’s a great junior player and liked by all the players,” said Killmer. “He’s been volunteering for four or five years now, and he’s more well-known than I am – and I won the thing. He’s great. I’m glad to have him on the bag.”
– Weather: 26 degrees and partly cloudy early, giving way to thunderstorms in the afternoon. 18 degrees and sunny in the evening. Winds 25 km/h.
– Play was delayed for 1 hour and 35 minutes at 3:25 P.M. due to dangerous weather in the area.
– Ricky McDonald’s first swing following the weather delay was the only one he needed on the par-3 14th. McDonald carded an ace, the second of the 2014 season, with a 5-iron from 193 yards.
– 36-hole lead Erik Barnes fell to a 4-over 75 to sit tie for fourth.
– Should Persons go on to win tomorrow, it would be the first season since 2009 with two multiple-time winners on PGA TOUR Canada (Graham DeLaet and Mauricio Molina)
– With current Order of Merit no. 2 Matt Harmon missing the cut, Persons and Madigan could both move as high as no. 2 on the Order of Merit with a win or a runner-up finish tomorrow.