Svensson, Kropp, Choi share 54-hole lead in Victoria

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Surrey, British Columbia’s Adam Svensson shares the 54-hole lead at -11

Victoria, B.C.) – Surrey, British Columbia’s Adam Svensson and Edmond, Oklahoma’s Will Kropp fired a pair of 8-under 62s on Saturday at Uplands Golf Club to share the 54-hole lead with Toronto, Ontario’s Albin Choi heading into the final round of the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada’s Bayview Place Island Savings Open.

Svensson, a 21-year old newly-minted professional who played his way into the field thanks to a playoff runner-up finish at last week’s PC Financial Open in Vancouver, carded six birdies and an eagle on the day, while Kropp was also bogey-free with eight birdies. Choi, who carried a three-shot lead into the day, three-putted the final hole for an even-par 70 to join Svensson and Kropp at 11-under through 54 holes.

“I was talking to my caddie last night and said we had to play pretty aggressive,” said Svensson, who played last week on a sponsor’s exemption, of his approach to the weekend. “We knew Albin’s going to keep going low, so I hit a lot of drivers out there. We had three chances for eagle and made one, so I’m playing very aggressive.”

Kropp, a second year member of the Mackenzie Tour who like Svensson began the day eight strokes behind Choi, brought a similar approach to Uplands on Saturday and saw it pay major dividends.

“I was playing pretty aggressive. I didn’t really look at the leaderboard much, but I figured I had to get to around 10-under over the next couple of days, so getting to 11-under today was a pretty good start,” said the 25-year old, who owns one win on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica at the 2014 Abierto OSDE del Centro.

While Svensson and Kropp saw their strategy pay off, Choi, who began the day with a three stroke advantage over playing partner Eugene Wong, wasn’t as fortunate after taking a similar approach. After making eagle at the par-5 7th, the 23-year old made bogeys on the 9th, 10th and 12th holes to fall back to even on the day. One birdie on the 13th and his closing bogey at 18 left him back in a tie for the lead heading into Sunday’s final round.

“I just didn’t have my best stuff out there today and I was a little off and on with the putter. I tried to play like I didn’t have a lead today. The course was playing tough but fair and I knew there would be some good scores out there,” said Choi, who made his pro debut at Uplands in 2013.

San Jose, California’s John Ellis was one shot behind the leaders with at 10-under thanks to a 4-under 66.

NUMBERS YOU NEED TO KNOW

2: The number of times Will Kropp has shot 62 on the Mackenzie Tour, including a final round 10-under 62 at last year’s SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel, where he finished second.

7: Adam Svensson’s consecutive rounds under par to start his pro career on the Mackenzie Tour.

5: Canadians in the top 10 heading into Sunday: Adam Svensson (T1), Albin Choi (T1), Cory Renfrew (T5), Eugene Wong (8) and Kevin Spooner (T9). All five were born in British Columbia.

QUOTABLES:

“Any time you can help charity and get more people involved, it makes for a fun weekend, so hopefully I can make a few more tomorrow. Obviously I’d like to help out anywhere, but it’s nice to start it in Victoria in my hometown.” – Cory Renfrew, who is donating $5 per birdie and $10 per eagle to the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island on the weekend

“I guess 62 is my number out here. I’ve only played three tournaments and I’ve shot it twice. I’m happier that I’ve still got a chance to win tomorrow, too.” – Will Kropp on shooting 62 for the second time in his Mackenzie Tour career.

“My golf swing felt trustworthy today. I just stayed committed to my shots and just played my normal golf. I’ve been in this position a few times, and just like I always do, I enjoy it.” – Adam Svensson on being in contention again as a young pro. The Jack Nicklaus Award winner as the top player in the NCAA each of the past two years, Svensson has started his pro career off with a bang, having won three titles on the SwingThought.com Tour and finishing tied for second in a playoff at last week’s PC Financial Open.

NOTES:
Weather: 21 degrees Celsius. Sunny. Winds 12 km/h.
Both Choi and Svensson are members of Team Freedom, a team of players sponsored by Freedom 55 Financial. The other members include Taylor Pendrith, Matt Hill and Mackenzie Hughes.
Svensson is looking to follow in the footsteps of Hughes, who was a non-member on the Mackenzie Tour in 2013, but played his way into the Order of Merit-based Wildfire Invitational. A T2 finish there got him into the following week’s Cape Breton Celtic Classic, which he won before going on to win the Order of Merit and Freedom 55 Financial Canadian Player of the Year honours.
Will Kropp owns one win on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. The University of Oklahoma grad defeated Angel Cabrera by a shot to win the 2014 Abierto OSDE del Centro, the first time Cabrera had been defeated on that tour.
The last Canadian to win the Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist was Craig Taylor in 2005.

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