J.J. Spaun takes two shot lead at The Players Cup

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jj spaun

J.J. Spaun 

(Winnipeg, Man.) – Los Angeles, California’s J.J. Spaun will look to continue a hot streak on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada on Sunday after firing a 4-under 67 at Pine Ridge Golf Club to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of The Players Cup.

The 24-year old birdied three of his first four holes on Saturday to take the solo lead and held it for the rest of the day, making a pair of lengthy par putts on the 16th and 17th holes to build a two shot cushion at 13-under heading into Sunday.

“I feel like everything is kind of clicking right now and I’m just going with it, and I’m just trying to enjoy it,” said Spaun, who has finished in the top-10 in each of the last three Mackenzie Tour events, including a playoff loss at last week’s SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel.

The third year Mackenzie Tour member began the day tied with Dundas, Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes for the lead, but established himself as the frontrunner even as others made a move on Saturday, most notably North Vancouver, B.C.’s Eugene Wong, who fired a 9-under 62 in the day’s first pairing to tie the lead before the final group even teed off.

“It was good to get off to a hot start and get out ahead a little bit before I got into the middle of the round. That settled the nerves a bit,” said Spaun. “Having a two shot lead coming in – no lead is safe, but it’s better to have some sort of cushion than none at all. Making those putts were very good momentum boosters towards the end of my round.”

Spaun comes into the week in the fifth spot on the Order of Merit and can take over No. 1 with a win as long as current leader Drew Weaver finishes no better than a tie for second.

“I try not to get too far ahead of myself. Of course it’s going to creep into the back of your head but I try to do what I can do best out on the course,” said Spaun of trying not to focus on the big picture with plenty at stake on Sunday.

Two back of Spaun was Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, who fired a 4-under 67 to reach 11-under, while Taiwan’s C.T. Pan and Rockville, Maryland’s Danny Balin were a shot further behind. Wong, who matched the course record with his 9-under 62, was alone in fifth at 5-under.

NUMBERS YOU NEED TO KNOW

3: Players to shoot 62 at Pine Ridge Golf Club during The Players Cup (Dustin Risdon and Michael Walton, 2008).

2: J.J. Spaun’s lead, the second largest 54-hole lead on Tour this season.

1: The number of 54-hole leaders or co-leaders to go on to win this season.

QUOTABLES:

“Since I was first off, I figured I would have perfect greens for 18 holes. I had a great start with a birdie on one and was 3-under through four holes, so I knew if I got hot I could have a pretty low score out there.” – Eugene Wong on his 9-under 62.

“It was so funny. I finished eating lunch and saw him eating lunch, and I knew he had already played but I had no idea what he shot. I was like ‘Oh Eugene, 61 today?’ And he was like ‘Oh, no, 62.’ I was just being sarcastic.” – J.J. Spaun on finding out Eugene Wong had already tied him before the lead before teeing off.

“I learned a lot from last week. I lost patience and tried to force it, so even though I saw I was a little bit behind in the beginning, I just kept hitting fairways and greens. It’s more peaceful. You enjoy the time more and are more relaxed.” – Robert Karlsson on his approach after a final round 79 last week in Saskatoon that left him in a tie for 53rd.

“Since NCAAs and the Q-School, I’ve been playing really well the last two months. It’s been a good mojo for me and I just wanted to keep it going. That’s why I didn’t want to stop to rest. I’ll play wherever the tournament is.” – Taiwan’s C.T. Pan, who finished 2nd at the NCAA Championships, then turned pro, finishing T64 at the U.S. Open and T25 at the Travelers Championship on the PGA TOUR.

Notes:

  • Weather: 32 degrees (37 degrees with Humidex). Sunny. Winds 16 km/h.
  • J.J. Spaun has yet to finish outside the top-25 on the Mackenzie Tour this season, finishing T16-T10-T8-T2.
  • Eugene Wong’s 62 ties the lowest round of the year on the Mackenzie Tour, matching Adam Svensson and Will Kropp in the third round of the Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist.
  • Wong’s 62 matches the course record set by Dustin Risdon and Michael Walton in 2008.
  • Wong’s 9-under round ties the lowest round to par this year on the Mackenzie Tour, tying Kevin Spooner’s 63 in the final round of the Syncrude Boreal Open presented by AECON and Nicholas Reach’s 63 in the second round of the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open presented by SaskTel.
  • Wong’s lowest round on the Mackenzie Tour is a 10-under 61 at the 2014 National Capital Open to Support Our Troops.
  • Wong’s caddie this week is 17-time Pine Ridge Club Champion Todd “Topper” Teplitski.
  • Click here for online scores. 
  • Click here for agate scores

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