Emory tames Eagle Creek, leads by two
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DUNROBIN, Ontario—On a wet, rainy day at Eagle Creek Golf Club, Bryce Emory played bogey-free golf, shooting a 6-under 65 to move to the top of the Commissionaires Ottawa Open leaderboard, two shots clear of Devon Bling and three ahead of Thomas Longbella and Derek Oland.
Before Emory, a 33-year-old veteran and No. 31 on the Fortinet Cup standings, went to bed Thursday night, he looked at the weather forecast and expected the worst when he woke up. While the wind blew and the rain fell, it wasn’t, as he said, “as bad as I thought it might have been.”
In the steady drizzle, Emory got his second round off to a much better start than how he opened the tournament. Thursday, he bogeyed his first hole. In the second round, he felt a pivotal moment came on his second hole of the day, No. 11, when he had to make a six-footer for par. “That kept the momentum going right out of the gate,” he explained.
His putter heated up as the day progressed. His first birdie of the day came at No. 13, then he reeled off three in a row, at No. 18 and then on 1 and 2 after making the turn. He added three more—on Nos. 5, 7 and 9—to finish the round. Emory’s 65 matches his low round of the season. He also shot 65 (although that was a 5-under score) last Sunday in the closing round of the Quebec Open powered by Videotron Business. That led to a tie for ninth, Emory’s career-best finish in what was only his seventh career start.
“There is a lot of work to be done. You have to make birdies out here on this Tour. I have to stay aggressive, give myself some (birdie) looks and hopefully have some putts drop. We’ll see where it goes,” Emory added, thinking ahead to the weekend.
Key to Emory’s success is his work off the tee. Of his 24 non-par-3 tee shots through two rounds, he’s only missed one fairway. “I’ve done a really good job there. I’ve been sticking to a nice, little, low fade off the tee on some of those tighter holes. Hitting the fairways are so important. From there you can be aggressive.”
Bling followed his 65 with a 66 to take over second place. He was happy to compare the two days of golf in dramatically different weather conditions. “I definitely think it was more challenging today. There was more (ball) spin today, so the (yardage) numbers you had into the greens—the iron shots—you could fly a little closer to the flag,” said Bling. “With the rain going on and off all day, I think it was pretty difficult to judge the number when it was coming into the wind or (with a) cross-wind.”
Following a bogey at No. 12, his first of the day following a 3-under start, Bling hit his approach shot on the par-4 13th to the top of a ridge. He faced a 25-foot, downhill putt that he canned for the bounce-back birdie, the first of three in a row. He bogeyed No. 16 then finished par-birdie to sit right behind Emory.
“It’s a huge confidence boost,” Bling said when asked about playing in such different conditions and still making a bunch of birdies. “It means every aspect of my game feels great. I can trust it, I can aim, I can trust the wind, trust the number and believe that I’m going to make a good golf swing and hit the ball straight.
Did you know Devon Bling’s full name is Devondeep Singh Bling? Of Indian descent, Bling grew up in Ridgecrest, California, and attended UCLA on a golf scholarship. During his time in Westwood, he had 54 career under-par rounds, second on the Bruins’ all-time list.
For the second consecutive week, there were 30 Canadians competing. Through 36 holes, the top performer is Joey Savoie, currently tied for fifth with Sam Choi. Fourteen Canadians made the cut this week, and here is how they stand through 36 holes:
|T5||Joey Savoie||133 (9-under)|
|T19||Sudarshan Yellamaraju||136 (6-under)|
|T23||Brendan MacDougall||137 (5-under)|
|T23||Matthew Anderson||137 (5-under)|
|T23||Stuart Macdonald||137 (5-under)|
|T36||Thomas Giroux||138 (4-under)|
|T36||Lawren Rowe||138 (4-under)|
|T36||Jared du Toit||138 (4-under)|
|T36||Jimmy Jones||138 (4-under)|
|T48||A.J. Ewart||139 (3-under)|
|T48||Jake Lane||139 (3-under)|
|T59||Étienne Papineau||140 (2-under)|
|T59||Johnny Travale||140 (2-under)|
|T59||Chris R. Wilson||140 (2-under)|
The cut came at 2-under, with 71 players advancing to the weekend.
This season, no solo second-round leader has gone on to win the tournament, but John Pak, who shared the 36-hole lead with Luis Gagne and Gunn Yang, won the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open, while Davis Lamb was tied with Nicolo Galletti and Eric Lilleboe at the ATB Classic halfway mark before pulling ahead and winning in Edmonton.
First-round co-leader Corey Shaun faltered a bit on day two, shooting a 1-over 72 to fall into a tie for 19th. After two birdies to start his day, Shaun made the turn at 1-under following three birdies and four pars. Over his final seven holes, though, he made three additional bogeys against only one birdie.
Of those who advanced to the weekend, John Pak had the best bounce-back performance on day two. After opening with a an even-par 71 Thursday, Pak fired a second-round, tournament-best 62. He is tied for fifth.
Eric Lilleboe extended his Tour-best made-cut streak with a late rally. Going back to the 2022 season, Lilleboe had made 11 consecutive cuts. He was even-par through 14 holes Friday then made two birdies over his final four holes to get to 2-under to make the cut on the number. He’s tied for 59th. Second on the consecutive-cuts-made list is Canadian Étienne Papineau. He made his 11th consecutive cut when he advanced to the weekend at Eagle Creek, shooting rounds of 71-69, also tied for 59th.
The only three players to break the stranglehold U.S. players have on the top 20 were Canada’s Joey Savoie and Sudarshan Yellamaraju and Mexico’s Luis Gerardo Garza. Savoie is tied for fifth, Garza is tied for seventh and Yellamaraju is tied for 19th.
In his quest to win a third consecutive tournament, Davis Lamb hit a bit of a speed bump Friday, shooting an even-par 71 to follow his opening 66. At 5-under overall, he’s tied for 22nd heading to the weekend. This was Lamb’s 10th consecutive made cut, leaving him third on the current consecutive cuts-made list.
Both Luis Gerardo Garza and Jorge Villar have made aces this week. Garza made his hole-in-one Friday on the eighth hole, while Villar aced the 11th hole in the opening round. The two natives of Mexico are rooming together this week.
Hayden Springer made the cut on the number, a proposition that seemed unlikely with nine holes to play Friday. At No. 48 in the Fortinet Cup, Springer shot an opening, 2-over 73 then was 3-over on his first nine Friday, with a triple bogey at No. 16 (his seventh) and a bogey at No. 17 seemingly derailing his chances. All he did after that 4-over stretch was birdie six holes (Nos. 18, 1, 3, 7, 8 and 9) and eagle No. 2. He shot a 29 and moved to the weekend.
Chris Korte continues to impress. With only conditional status to begin the season, despite his strong early performances, he still had to Monday qualify to get into this week’s tournament. Korte has made the most of his opportunity, shooting scores of 67-70, leaving him at 5-under and tied for 23rd. These are his 12th and 13th under-par scores in 16 rounds played this season.
Thomas Longbella said the most-pivotal moment of his round came at No. 1, his 10th hole of the day. After a poor tee shot forced him to punch out into the fairway with his second shot, he hit his approach shot to 15 feet and drained it for par. “That kept the glue of my round together,” he said. Following that par, Longbella, No. 29 in the Fortinet Cup standings, made consecutive birdies, starting at No. 2.
Of those currently in the top 10 in the Fortinet Cup, Connor Howe (No. 7) and George Kneiser (No. 8) both missed the cut. In addition, No. 9 Eric McCardle is not playing this week.
“I played well out there, obviously, no bogeys. I battled the rain off and on for most of the day. I feel really good with where my game is at.” –Bryce Emory
“There is a lot of work to be done. You have to make birdies out here on this Tour, stay aggressive, give myself some (birdie) looks and hopefully have some putts drop. We’ll see where it goes.” –Bryce Emory
“I’m not the longest guy out here. These younger kids just pound it, and I’m on the older side out here. You just have to get the right hole, reach back with that driver and try to take it out there a little farther.” –Bryce Emory
“I think we had a good gameplan to start the week, and I executed [Thursday] really well, and I did the same thing today.” –Devon Bling
“I made a few putts. [Thursday] I hit it really good and didn’t make much, so to see a couple go in today was awesome.” –Thomas Longbella
“It’s tight off the tee in some spots, which I enjoy. It suits me, growing up in Wisconsin, up north. This is pretty similar to some courses I’ve seen around my house. It’s a good fit for me.” –Thomas Longbella
“Through the first six holes I was 3-under and probably could have been 5(-under). I missed two eight-footers back to back.” –Derek Oland
“I stalled a little on the back (nine), but with the rain and everything, and there are some pretty tight, pretty tough driving holes on the back.” –Derek Oland
Second-Round Weather: Overcast and cooler, with off-and-on showers most of the day. High of 21. Wind WNW at 13-15 kph.