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Bling pulls ahead, holds two-shot Commissionaires Ottawa Open lead

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Bling pulls ahead, holds two-shot Commissionaires Ottawa Open lead

    DUNROBIN, Ontario—With six players tied for the lead late in the day Saturday, it was anybody’s guess who would be leading the Commissionaires Ottawa Open. Devon Bling took care of that speculation. The former UCLA Bruin birdied the 16th, 17th and 18th holes to cap off a second consecutive 66, and that moved him two shots into the lead heading into Sunday at PGA TOUR Canada’s fifth tournament of the season. Bling leads Sam Choi and Bryce Emory, thanks to those three late birdies.

    “It’s a position that everyone of us in this field want to be in but it’s a very difficult position to be in, especially with the way the golf course was playing today,” said Bling. “I’m just proud of myself for trusting my game and trusting myself.

    “I’m really proud of how I finished my round today,” Bling added.

    He could have gone even lower. At the par-3 14th at Eagle Creek Golf Club, he missed a short birdie putt but shook off that disappointment with his late run.

    “Sometimes I will let those short [misses] get to me,” he said of his par at the 14th, “but this is a tough game, and everybody is going to miss short putts here and there. I knew I had four holes to go—a lot of golf to play—so I just moved on.”

    Earlier in his round, after a so-so, even-par start through six holes, Bling hit an 8-iron approach from 197 yards on the par-5 seventh hole. The ball settled 14 feet from the cup, and Bling rolled his eagle putt right in the center.

    “I think I will approach it with the same gameplan as today, stay aggressive when I need to be and be smart all the time and be conservative when I need to be,” said Bling of what awaits him in the final round.

    Choi has been knocking on the door all season following his decorated college career that began at the University of New Mexico and ended at Pepperdine. Choi has finished no worse than a tie for sixth this season. He’s tied for fourth twice and tied for fifth.

    “It feels good to be near the top and have a chance to win a golf tournament [Sunday]. It’s an exciting moment,” he said following his third consecutive round in the 60s, a 66. “I was in contention most of the time (this season) and didn’t get the job done. But you know what to expect, what to do out there in the final round. All this experience will definitely help me.”

    Choi finished his day birdie-par-birdie, just missing an eagle on No. 18, his 33-foot, double-breaking putt missing by an inch. “I read it pretty good. It had pretty good speed,” he said.

    Emory saw his two-shot lead at the beginning of the day end with a two-shot deficit. He remained optimistic after his 1-under 70. “I’m still right there, so I feel like I got my off round out of the way and I’ll be ready to go [Sunday].”

    Brandon Hoelzer, Stuart Macdonald and Derek Oland are all tied at 13-under, three shots behind Bling and tied for fourth.

    Hoelzer shot a 63, his birdies coming at Nos. 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15 and 18, with a bogey at the 17th. His birdie at 10 was a chip in from just off the green, from 15 feet.

    “I wasn’t expecting to shoot 8-under. I felt pretty comfortable with the putter, and it really got hot for me,” he explained. When he gets hot, Hoelzer added he rarely gets tense. “It’s comforting, really. Some people might I feel like might get a little tight, but for me when I’m playing good, it’s almost easier to play good. It was just fun. I was having fun out there.”

    Macdonald had an interesting opening nine. He only made two pars on that set of holes, with bogeys on No. 1 and 3 and birdies on the other five holes, including three in a row—starting at No. 5.

    “I settled in and started hitting a lot of quality golf shots. I had a few (birdie) looks and saw some putts go in,” he said. Macdonald also chipped in on the par-3 11th hole, got through the difficult 12th with a par and then added two birdies on 13 and 14. A bogey on 15 was his only back-nine blemish, and he finished with a flourish, hitting a 4-iron, second-shot approach on the par-5 18th from 220 yards, the ball landing 35 feet from the cup. From there, he rolled it in for the eagle and a 63.

    Oland hung in all day, playing in the final grouping. His 3-under 68 came courtesy of four birdies and a bogey. Interestingly, his last birdie came at No. 9 and he made nothing but pars on the back nine.

    Did you know Stuart Macdonald played on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica this season? He ultimately played in eight of the Tour’s 12 tournaments, making the cut in all eight, picking up a pair of top-10s and finishing 20th on the Totalplay Cup standings to earn 2024 PGA TOUR Americas status. Macdonald’s top performance was a third-place showing at the Colombia Classic. He was solo third in Bucaramanga, two shots behind winner Walker Lee.

    Key Information

    Of the 14 Canadians who made the cut this week, Stuart Macdonald is the top performer through 54 holes. He is tied for fourth, four shots behind leader Devon Bling. Here is how all 14 Canadians have fared and their leaderboard positions with 18 holes to play:

    T4Stuart Macdonald200 (13-under)
    T7Joey Savoie201 (12-under)
    T12Matthew Anderson204 (9-under)
    T12Brendan MacDougall204 (9-under)
    T12Sudarshan Yellamaraju204 (9-under)
    T34Jared du Toit207 (6-under)
    T40Jimmy Jones208 (5-under)
    T47 A.J. Ewart209 (4-under)
    T59Étienne Papineau209 (4-under)
    T55Thomas Giroux210 (3-under)
    T55Jake Lane210 (3-under)
    T60Lawren Rowe211 (2-under)
    T62Johnny Travale212 (1-under)
    T70Chris R. Wilson215 (2-over)

    Only seven players have three rounds in the 60s through 54 holes. They are the United States’ Devon Bling (first), Sam Choi (tied for second). Derek Oland (tied for fourth) and Luke Schniederjans (tied for seventh), China native and Canada resident Yi Cao (tied for 10th), Canadians Joey Savoie (tied for seventh) and Sudarshan Yellamaraju (tied for 12th).

    Brandon Hoelzer will play in the second-to-last grouping Sunday. He just missed teeing off with the final grouping, something he did at the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open. Hoelzer made his way into that threesome by capping off his third round with a birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie finish, his eagle a hole-in-one at the 17th. He shot 64 that day then followed that with a 69 in the closing round to tie for eighth—his season-best performance.

    Brandon Hoelzer has not made a hole-in-one this week—yet. There is still one round to play and considering how he’s played over the last four months, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him post an ace. Hoelzer made a hole-in-one in a practice round in March and made another right before leaving to go to Victoria for the season-opening tournament. Then at the Elk Ridge Resort, for the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open presented by Brandt, he aced the 17th hole in the third round. In addition, at the Royal Beach Victoria Open, he holed out on No. 7 in the first round from 200 yards for an eagle. Prior to this run of three aces in four months, he hadn’t made one for eight years.

    The winners this season in PGA TOUR Canada’s four events have all had a share of the third-round lead. Étienne Papineau was in a four-way tie at the 54-hole mark at the Royal Beach Victoria Open before pulling away to win by five. John Pak and Wilson Andress shared the third-round lead at the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open, Pak eventually winning by four shots. Davis Lamb in his two victories had a piece of the lead with Eric Lilleboe at the ATB Classic, with Lamb winning by three. Last week, Lamb owned the 54-hole lead outright and maintained his one-stroke advantage as he went on to victory at the Québec Open powered by Videotron Business.

    With his 71-62-69 start, John Pak has 14 consecutive rounds at par or better this season. The only blemish on his record was the 5-over 75 he shot in the opening round of the year, at the Royal Beach Victoria Open. Since then, he has four scores of even-par and everything else under-par. Pak goes into the final round in ninth place.

    Like John Pak, Sam Choi has tasted an over-par day only once this year—a 1-over 71 in the first round of the Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open presented by Brandt. With his 64-69-66 start this week, Choi has 15 rounds in the 60s and 17 of his 19 posted scores are under-par. He’s a cumulative 59-under this season.

    It’s been a remarkable turnaround for Hayden Springer, who made the cut on the number when it appeared midway through his second round he wouldn’t be working this weekend. Springer has played his last 28 holes in 14-under, shooting a Saturday 65, to move up 41 leaderboard positions into a tie for 18th with 18 holes to play.

    Jason Hong also made the cut on the number following a 72-68 start. Like Hayden Springer, he, too, went low in the third round, matching Springer’s 65 with his four-birdie, one-eagle, no-bogey performance. Hong is looking for his second consecutive top-10 and third overall. A week ago, he tied for sixth at the Quebec Open powered by Videotron Business. He earned his PGA TOUR Canada card this season by winning the Qualifying Tournament in suburban Phoenix, at The Wigwam, in early April.

    This week, Cooper Dossey made his first cut of the season. Saturday, after shooting a pair of 67s in the first two rounds, he was even-par. He’s tied for 18th.

    Davis Lamb is a longshot to win his third consecutive PGA TOUR Canada tournament. He will enter the final round at 8-under and tied for 18th, eight shots behind leader Devon Bling.


    “I trust my golf game. I know that I can win. I’ve done it before. I just need to believe in myself and my capability.” –Devon Bling

    “I know I have to shoot something in the 60s, for sure.” –Bryce Emory on a possible target score Sunday

    “It was definitely tough out there. You get inside those trees, and [the wind] swirls around. I hit a lot of really good shots but got fooled by the wind a couple of times, coming up short.” –Bryce Emory

    “I think this wind and sun will definitely dry it out.” –Bryce Emory on how he expects course conditions to be Sunday

    “It’s a good sign. Maybe the first one will come [Sunday]. I like where I’m at right now and very confident with my golf game.” –Sam Choi on his potential of winning

    “The first five holes, I was surprised how the wind switched every 30 seconds.” –Sam Choi

    “I made a couple of small adjustments with my putting about a week ago, and I’m trying to stick to that. I’ve been getting the ball started on line more often.” –Stuart Macdonald

    “The breeze makes it pretty tricky out there. It swirls in the trees and you can’t really gauge what the wind’s doing when you’re below the trees. I managed it pretty well.” –Stuart Macdonald

    “I have a lot of confidence. The last couple of months I haven’t seen a lot of putts go in. I’ve had a lot of rounds at even, 1-under, 2-under. So, to go low is good, and seeing the putts go in gives me a lot of confidence.” –Stuart Macdonald

    “It’s a whole other day of golf. I’m not too concerned, but I’m definitely excited to give it a run.” –Brandon Hoelzer on being in contention going into Sunday

    Third-Round Weather: Mostly sunny and warmer. High of 25. Wind W at 15-18 kph.

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