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Four-way battle to top of leaderboard with 18 to play in Victoria

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Four-way battle to top of leaderboard with 18 to play in Victoria

    Written by PGA TOUR Canada Staff @PGATOURCanada

    VICTORIA, British Columbia—The final round of the Royal Beach Victoria Open presented by Times Colonist is shaping up to be a real horse race, with Canadian Étienne Papineau and 36-hole leader George Kneiser among four players sharing the 54-hole lead going into Sunday’s finale.

    Papineau, Kneiser, Hayden Shieh and Jason Hong are all bunched at 12-under 198 entering the final round of PGA TOUR Canada’s first event of the season at the Uplands Golf Club. The winner can take a big step forward in pursuit of the season-long Fortinet Cup.

    Papineau, of Mercier, Quebec, fought hard to overcome a pair of early bogeys, on the third and fourth holes. Consecutive birdies, at No. 6 and No. 7, got him back on track, and he finished at 1-under 69.

    “I was still frustrated when I made my second bogey,” Papineau said. “I didn’t hit really any bad shots and made two bogeys. I had a little talk with my caddie, we brought it back and stayed composed after that. I gave myself a lot of opportunities, made a good putt at 11, so that kept me in the game.”

    Papineau is competing in his 12th PGA TOUR Canada event and is seeking his first win. He has two top-five finishes on his resume and tied for fifth at the Royal Beach Victoria Open last year.

    Kneiser, of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, had three bogeys on the front nine, four for the round, and finished at even-par 70. He shot a career-low 126 total for the first two rounds but could not build on his lead.

    “Those were not good bogeys,” Kneiser said. “I was glad I kept my head straight. The attitude was good, and I didn’t really even think about them, didn’t even think about trying to birdie the next hole. I stumbled into a birdie at No. 9 and that was actually really nice making the turn.”

    Hong, a native of Australia and graduate of Lipscomb University, had one bogey and shot 67. Hong is making his professional debut.

    A turning point for Hong came on the 202-yard par-3 ninth hole. He sent his tee shot over the green and hit an unsatisfactory chip shot that only got within 10 feet of the hole. But he made the par putt to keep his round on track.

    “That was a big shot because that helped me stay even through nine instead of 1-over, and then I had a good back nine,” Hong said.

    Shieh, of Fremont, California, had a bogey-free round and shot 68. The graduate of Santa Clara University is seeking his first win in this his 12th PGA TOUR Canada start. He also played eight Forme Tour events in 2021 as a PGA TOUR Canada member.

    “With the wind, I just tried to hit it low all day,” Shieh said. “I’ve been three-putting a lot, so today I was just trying to hit it on the green, lag it up there and stay calm. The birdies are probably going to be hard to come by.”

    Sam Choi, who is making his professional debut, is alone in fifth place after his 68 left him at 11-under 199. He bogeyed the final hole to drop out of the lead. The native of Anaheim, California, helped Pepperdine University reach the semifinals of the NCAA Championships and earned his Tour card by finishing No. 11 on the PGA TOUR University standings.

    “I’m capable of getting the job done,” Choi said. “I know my game, and I’m very confident right now. Within three shots, anything can happen with this course.”

    Four players are tied at 9-under 201. A pair of Californians, Chase Sienkiewicz of Sacramento, and Ryann Ree of Los Angeles, joined Japan’s Genki Okada with 68s Saturday, while Cole Bradley of Louisville, Kentucky, shot 67. Twenty players enter the final round within five shots of the lead.

    Conditions were more difficult Saturday afternoon when the wind picked up and affected scoring.

    “It’s a bit of a guessing game out there because there’s so much crosswind,” Hong said. “You’ve just got to figure out the direction it’s coming from.”

    Papineau said, “I knew it was going to be windy. I didn’t expect it to be that windy. You have to be creative out there with the wind.”

    Did you know Sam Choi reached as high as No. 11 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking prior to turning pro? In his final two college seasons at Pepperdine, Choi had four runner-up showings in college tournaments and was also a second-place finisher at the 2022 Pacific Coast Amateur.

    Key Information

    Eleven Canadians made the cut, and through 54 holes Étienne Papineau is not only the top Canadian, he’s in a four-way tie for the lead, at 12-under. Here is where the other 10 players sit through three rounds.

    T1Étienne Papineau198 (12-under)
    T14Jared du Toit203 (7-under)
    T14Lawren Rowe203 (7-under)
    T21Brendan Leonard204 (6-under)
    T29A.J. Ewart206 (4-under)
    T29Jeevan Sihota206 (4-under)
    T44Brendan MacDougall208 (2-under)
    T44Richard Jung208 (2-under)
    T51Stuart Macdonald209 (1-under)
    T60Henry Lee210 (even)
    T63Jimmy Jones 211 (1-over)

    Sam Choi’s father is serving as caddie this week. It’s a role Dad has played many times, and the two enjoy a relationship that allows them to crack jokes and laugh during the round. “My dad has always been out there rooting for me, cheering me on. I’m very fortunate to have him as a caddie and to have another journey with his in the summer.”

    Chase Sienkiewicz made a big move early in the round. He eagled the 382-yard third hole and made the turn in 31 on the way to shooting a 4-under 66, leaving him tied for sixth. Sienkiewicz, who played at the University of Arizona, is making his professional debut. He qualified two different ways for PGA TOUR Canada. He finished 19th in the PGA TOUR University standings, but prior to the conclusion of the college season, he tied for second at the Qualifying Tournament at The Wigwam in suburban Phoenix, falling by three strokes to Jason Hong.

    Chris Korte of Littleton, Colorado, only made two birdies Saturday. One of them came at No. 11, which played as the hardest hole in the third round. Korte was one of six players who made a birdie there.

    Sam Jean of Indianapolis, Indiana, is making his professional debut. He shot 6-under 64 on Saturday—chipping in for a birdie on the final hole—and moved up 41 spots into a tie for 10th. The University of Cincinnati product was a three-time All-American Athletic Conference selection and earned his card at the Weston, Florida, Qualifying Tournament (tied for seventh).

    Things looked grim when Nolan Ray made a double bogey on the third hole, but he went bogey-free the rest of the round and finished with seven birdies to shoot 65. Ray, of Spring Hill, Tennessee, moved up 37 spots and into a tie for 14th.

    With an odd number of players making the cut, Ryan Wallen had to play as a single Saturday. It didn’t work out great. He had four bogeys on the front nine, five overall, and needed birdies on the final two holes to shoot 1-over 71.


    “My putter was a little bit cold, but it’s OK; saving it for [Sunday]. It was a battle out there, but I stayed calm, I stayed composed and brought it back to 1-under, so I’m happy.” – Étienne Papineau

    “Definitely tougher today. When it’s that windy, you’ve got to hit it in the center (of the club), and that’s been it. Otherwise, you’re at nature’s mercy on every shot. It just narrows down your targets and your ability to hit good shots.” – George Kneiser

    “I did not hit it quite as good as the last few days, and it kind of showed. I made some squirrely mistakes today, but it was bad all day long.” – George Kneiser

    “No change of plans. Take it day by day. Get it down the fairway, hit it on the green and let the putter do the work and hopefully put together a decent round and try not to do anything too stupid or irrational.” – Hayden Shieh

    “I’ve just got to play well [Sunday]. I’ve just got to stay focused and take one shot at a time and try to execute for the best of my ability.” – Jason Hong

    “I came out a little more aggressive than I did the last two days. I was struggling with my irons early in the week, but I got it around to make the cut. I hit more aggressive iron shots, a lot of solid shots off the tee as well and I saw a couple more putts fall. And that chip-in on the last hole was nice, too.” – Sam Jean

    “It’s been a great week. I love it in Victoria. I love the course. I’m having a blast, and it helps when you’re shooting a low one.” – Sam Jean

    “It feels a lot different than it did when I played four years ago and was like second to last. It’s a different year, a different game.” – Hayden Shieh

    Third-Round Weather: Overcast and cooler. High of 17. Wind W at 21 to 28 kph, with gusts to 32 kph.

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