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Gagne, Pak and Yang take lead into the weekend

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Gagne, Pak and Yang take lead into the weekend

    Written by PGA TOUR Canada Staff @PGATOURCanada

    WASKESIU, Saskatchewan—Luis Gagne and John Pak joined first-round leader Gunn Yang at 10-under 130 on Friday to share the 36-hole lead at PGA TOUR Canada’s Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open presented by Brandt.

    Yang, of South Korea, followed his opening 63 with a 3-under 67 to match Gagne of Costa Rica, who shot 65, and Pak of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, who shot 64 at Elk Ridge Resort.

    The trio holds a one-stroke lead over Wilson Andress of Charleston, South Carolina, Connor Howe of Ogden, Utah, Thomas Longbella of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and Derek Hitchner of Minneapolis, Minnesota. All are tied for fourth, at 9-under 131, in pursuit of the season-long Fortinet Cup.

    The leading Canadian players are Richard Jung of Markham, Ontario, and Ziggy Nathu of Richmond, British Columbia, who both shot 67 and are tied for 17th. Étienne Papineau of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, winner of last week’s Royal Beach Victoria Open, had a double bogey on his 17th hole and shot 68, dropping him into a tie for 24th.

    Yang’s inability to make putts slowed his charge, even though he spent most of the round hitting approach shots close to the hole. He made five birdies, but they were offset by two bogeys.

    “I just didn’t drop any putts inside, like, 10 feet,” Yang said. “I had five, six chances, and I just blew it away. So hopefully I do well [Saturday] and get the putter going. It’s been good just to make sure that I put myself in contention going into the third and fourth rounds.”

    Gagne started on the back nine and birdied six of his first 10 holes before a bogey on his 11th hole and a double bogey on the 12th momentarily sidetracked him. The former LSU golfer recovered to add two more birdies, giving him eight for the day.

    “I was feeling really good at the turn, and then a couple three-putts, but I bounced back pretty nice toward the end, so I’m pretty pleased with my round,” Gagne said. “I was just trying to find a par after going bogey-double. It was a good two-putt on the next par-3, and I got the birdie on No. 5.”

    Pak missed the cut last week at the Royal Beach Victoria Open in his PGA TOUR Canada debut. Friday, Pak posted a clean scorecard that included six birdies, the last one on No. 17 when he hit a 9-iron through a tricky wind to within seven feet and made the putt.

    “Everything was just pretty solid,” Pak said. “I kept the ball in front of me. You really have to do that out there with these tight fairways. You can’t really have any big misses, so I just kept the ball in front of me and putted it pretty well.”

    Andress, who finished his career at Georgia Southern University this spring, jumped into contention with a bogey-free 64 that ended with an eagle. At No. 9, a 403-yard par 4, Andress had 107 yards to a blind green and heard the reaction from the crowd when it rolled into the hole.

    “The people on the green went crazy, so it’s a pretty cool way to finish the day,” he said.

    Andress previously got up and down from 153 yards on the 14th hole after hitting his tee shot in the woods and electing to chip back into the fairway.

    Howe, a recent Georgia Tech graduate, followed his first-round 65 with a 66. He recorded seven birdies, but a bogey and a double bogey sidetracked him.

    Longbella, who played at the University of Minnesota, followed his 64 with a second-round 67. Longbella’s round included six birdies but was offset by three bogeys on his second nine.

    Hitchner, a recent Pepperdine graduate making his professional debut, shot a bogey-free 65.

    Michael Sweeney of Enfield, Connecticut, shot the low round of the day. His 7-under 63 moved him up 38 spots and into eighth place, at 8-under. Five players are tied for ninth at 7 under.

    Did you know John Pak Pak, a Florida State alum, is a two-time U.S. Walker Cup participant and the 2021 Jack Nicklaus Award winner presented to the country’s top collegiate golfer?

    Key Information

    Twenty-eight Canadians entered this week, with 10 making the cut at the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open presented by Brandt. Leading the way is Richard Jung and Ziggy Nathu, both at 5-under and tied for 17th.

    Second-round co-leader Luis Gagne is skipping the wedding of his former LSU teammate and friend Carter Toms to play this week in Saskatchewan. “I was supposed to be at my friend’s wedding and told him I wasn’t going to make it. Hopefully I can play well and make it worth missing the wedding,” Gagne said of Toms, son of 2001 PGA Championship winner DavidToms.

    Luis Gagne’s younger brother Mike is serving as his caddie this summer until he returns to college for his junior year. “It’s definitely a lot of fun having the little guy on the bag. We’re out there trying to keep it light and cracking some jokes,” Luis said. As far as payment for services, Gagne said, “I feed him.”

    Wilson Andress played five seasons at Georgia Southern and won the Gopher Invitational during the fall of the 2022-23 season. He also won the 2021 Georgia State Match Play Championship. Andress is sharing a cabin with his former Georgia Southern teammate Ben Carr, who followed his opening 64 with a 70. There was no partying for the duo; Andress said they were both sound asleep by 9:30 Thursday night.

    Shooting a 63 to get onto the leaderboard, Michael Sweeney’s highlight of the second round was an eagle at the par-4 12th hole. Sweeney missed the cut last week in his first PGA TOUR Canada start.

    Logan Perkins of Locust Grove, Georgia, had to Monday qualify to get in the field. The University of West Virginia grad shot 65 Friday and moved up 67 spots but was unable to overcome a first-round 74 and missed the cut.

    The cut fell at 2-under 138, with 68 players qualifying for the weekend.

    Second-Round Weather: Mostly sunny and mild. High of 22. Wind S at 5-7 kph.

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