(Whitecap, SK) – Bear, Delaware’s Eric Onesi shot a 6-under 66 on Friday at Dakota Dunes Golf Links to take the solo lead heading into the weekend at the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel, the fourth event of the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season.
The 27-year old reached 14-under and led by one over Moscow, Pennsylvania’s Nicholas Reach and French Polynesia’s Vaita Guillaume through 36 holes.
“The course was setting up well for me, especially on the par-5s,” said the long-hitting Onesi, who has played the par-5s in 9-under through two rounds in Saskatoon. “There was a left-to-right wind, which is my favourable wind, so I was hitting 7- or 8-iron into them and taking advantage of those and making some easy birdies.”
The Old Dominion University graduate, who earned medalist honours at the British Columbia Qualifying Tournament earlier this season, is making a return as a touring professional this year after taking time away from the game over the past two seasons. Onesi earned Web.com Tour status in 2012, but said the expectations to succeed as a young professional got the better of him, and he worked as a caddie at Bay Hill Club and Lodge for parts of the last two years.
“I just put too much pressure on myself back then,” said Onesi of his season on the Web.com Tour in 2012, when he made just three cuts in seven starts and finished 210th on the Money List. “I had a lot of success right out of college, and when I had Web.com Tour status I kind of thought I should have it every year. When you have early success I think you expect to have it all the time. I hit a little wall and I think I took it hard and the desire went down, but I’m still young in this game and I know I can play out there, so I keep telling myself ‘I belong.’”
Onesi, who has made two of his first three cuts to start the season on the Mackenzie Tour and sits 63rd on the Order of Merit, said he’s felt at home on the 7,301-yard Dakota Dunes layout since he arrived earlier this week and is excited about the prospect of competing here on the weekend.
“I’m just comfortable out here. As soon as I got out of the car on Monday and was able to hit a few drivers on the range and the course, I was able to settle in and keep my composure and stay focused and positive,” said Onesi.
Earlier in the day, Reach carded the low round of the week with a 9-under 63 to post the clubhouse lead at 13-under, which Guillaume matched with a 65.
The 36-hole cut came at 6-under par, matching the 2013 SIGA Dakota Dunes Open and the 2008 ATB Financial Classic for the lowest cut in TOUR history.
NUMBERS YOU NEED TO KNOW
29: The number of players who shot under par on both Thursday and Friday but still missed the cut.
0: The number of players who made the cut with at least one over-par round.
37: The number of players who shot in the 60s both Thursday and Friday.
“We have some pretty big shoes to fill out there. Those guys out there are doing awesome, but we’ve been preparing for this our whole lives and especially the last four years. I think coach [Chris] Haack has done a great job with us. It’s been a really great last four years.” –Nicholas Reach, an alumnus of the Georgia Bulldogs golf program that has produced PGA TOUR winners Bubba Watson, Chris Kirk, Brian Harman and Harris English, on following in the footsteps of his fellow alumni.
“The last two rounds were the first two rounds in a while that I was able to put together. I underwent some swing changes recently and have been struggling since, but a few days ago I found a key of sorts, which is to completely forget about technique. My mind is so freed up. I can go for pins. I see the trajectory, the lines and the speed. I’m in a good place right now.” –Vaita Guillaume on his opening rounds of 66-65.
“I’m not a very long hitter, but the fact that this course doesn’t suit me very well just keeps me patient. I don’t try to go for too many flags and just play my game, let the birdies come instead of forcing them. I had a really good short game and really good wedges today.” – Robert Karlsson, who finished third here in 2014, on what keeps him playing well at Dakota Dunes.
“I’ve been in the mix before up here a couple of times the first two events and I need to do a little bit better job of playing some solid golf. I don’t think anything I’ve done has been the wrong thing, I’ve just hit some bad shots. If I can just keep the mental mistakes to a miniumum, I’ll be okay this weekend.” – Wade Binfield, who sits tied for tied for fourth through 36 holes thanks to rounds of 67-66.
“You either play here, or you play [on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica]. I’m gonna do this, and hopefully I can get on a roll and play a little better. It’s just nice to have an option to play up here and to have tournaments instead of doing the Monday Qualifiers.” – Michael Letzig(-11/T4), who has made 114 starts on the PGA TOUR, on why he chose the Mackenzie Tour as his path to make it back to the Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR.
- Weather: Partly cloudy. 33 degrees Celsius. Winds 15 km/h.
- 61 players made the cut at 6-under par (T50 or better).
- Order of Merit Nos. 1 and 3 Albin Choi and Drew Weaver played together during the first two rounds and remain tied at 7-under through 36 holes in a tie for 33rd.
- Robert Karlsson (T4) is not related to the former Ryder Cup member and 9-time European Tour winner of the same name.
- The lowest 36-hole cuts in Mackenzie Tour history came at the 2013 SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel and the 2008 ATB Financial Classic at 6-under.
- Nicholas Reach’s 63 ties Kevin Spooner’s final round 63 last week in Fort McMurray for the lowest round to par on the Mackenzie Tour this season.
- Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON champion Kevin Spooner missed the cut with rounds of 68-71.
- 2012 champion Matt Hill carded rounds of 67-68 to sit T11 through two rounds.
- Click here for agate scores.
- Click here for online scores.