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Doyle takes Colombia Classic one-shot lead into Sunday

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Doyle takes Colombia Classic one-shot lead into Sunday

    Written by Gregory Villalobos @PGATOURLA

    BUCARAMANGA, Colombia—In a two-way tie for the 36-hole lead, Brendon Doyle of Louisville, Kentucky, carded a 4-under 66 in the third round to grab the outright lead heading into Sunday at PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s Colombia Classic presented by Rocha Brothers. Making a birdie at the last, almost in the dark, the sun quickly setting, Doyle managed to finish at 16-under 194, one shot ahead of grouping partner Stuart Macdonald of Vancouver, Canada. Macdonald birdied the last as well to match Doyle’s 66 and take solo second.

    The best of two players who fired a low-of-the-day 63, Davis Shore of Knoxville, Tennessee, moved into a tie for third, along with Walker Lee of Houston, Texas, and Argentina’s Andrés Gallegos, who posted 65s. At 13-under, the trio trails Doyle by three shots.

    Six other players made it into a tie for sixth, at 12-under. Three of them fired 64s, with Totalplay Cup No. 2 Chandler Blanchet shooting a 28 on the back nine, Canada’s Myles Creighton going bogey-free and Argentina’s Jaime López Rivarola making an eagle on his 18th hole. The other three were Roland Massimino of Lumberville, Pennsylvania, who shot 65, Austin Hitt of Longwood, Florida, who had his second consecutive 67, and Mexico’s Luis Gerardo Garza, who carded a 67.

    Juan Pablo Luna of Bogota, Colombia, who shared the 36-hole lead with Doyle, slowed to a 2-over 72 Saturday to drop into a tie for 15th. At 10-under and now trailing by six, he remains the best of four Colombian players who made it to the weekend.

    “I played pretty smart all day. There were some pretty good pins out on the front nine, so I played to the middle of the greens and birdied both par-5s on the front nine, which was nice. I made a couple of birdies, as well, on the back nine and just one bogey, which was good. I just stuck to my game plan and played pretty well,” said Doyle of a day in which he made five birdies and only one bogey.

    Down the stretch, Doyle kept his round going with a big par save at the par-4 16th, where after two bad shots he was able to get up and down, sinking an eight-footer. He was also pleased about his birdie at the last, almost in the darkness.

    “It was fine. It really wasn’t hard to see until my second shot. The drive was fine, but yeah, I got there quickly because it was just kind of cloudy; happens easily here. I was happy to make birdie on the last hole and happy to be on the final group [Sunday]. It should be fun,” said the Indiana University alum who will be seeking his first win in his 29th PGA TOUR Latinoamérica career start.

    Ranked 86th in the Totalplay Cup standings, Doyle could move all the way to 10th with a win. Macdonald, who holds the 28th spot, could move even higher if he outduels Doyle and the other contenders on a short course open to low scores.

    At 1-over through six Saturday, Macdonald was able to put together a four-birdie string, starting on No. 7.

    “I got off to a pretty slow start, but once I made a few birdies I started to feel a lot more comfortable. [Sunday] should be a lot of fun, being in contention with Brendon. We both are playing great golf,” said the fellow Big Ten Conference and Hoosier State golfer. Macdonald played at Purdue University and is making only his fifth PGA TOUR Latinoamérica start of the season via his Korn Ferry Tour category.

    Doyle and Macdonald will be paired with Shore in a final group scheduled to begin the last round at 11 a.m. local time.

    Did you know Stuart Macdonald owns the lowest scoring average on PGA TOUR Latinoamérica this season? He entered the week averaging 69.06 strokes per round, following four top-20s in as many starts (a tie for 16th at the Roberto De Vicenzo Memorial, a tie for sixth at the JHSF Brazil Open, a tie for 14th at the Diners Club Peru Open and a tie for 17th at the Kia Open). Including his three rounds at Ruitoque Golf Country Club this week, he has now shot in the sixties in 11 of his 19 rounds on Tour. His low round was a 61 in the final round of the JHSF Brazil Open and his highest was a 72, which he has shot twice.

    Key Information

    With only three full-field events left to play before the season-ending Bupa Tour Championship, the finish line is moving closer. Earning Totalplay Cup points is critical for players all across the standings in order to get the different performance rewards available.

    Davis Shore, tied for third at 13-under, and Raúl Pereda, tied for 15th at 10-under, shared Saturday’s low rounds by firing 7-under 63s. Pereda got his in bogey-free fashion, recording seven birdies on holes 4, 6, 7, and 9, 16, 17 and 18. Shore had a busier one, making an eagle, seven birdies and two bogeys.

    Davis Shore has had three top-10s in seven starts season, including a solo-second finish at the JHSF Brazil Open and a tie for fourth at the Roberto De Vicenzo Memorial in Argentina. Ranked 11th in the Totalplay Cup standings and playing in the last group Sunday he has given himself a good chance to make a strong move up the standings.

    Walker Lee made it to 5-under with his sixth birdie of the day, on the 13th, but he made pars on the remaining five, failing to move closer to the top. “I’ve been missing a lot of fairways, and I have done a good job when I have missed the fairways, playing smart to the middle of the greens. Anyway, you must post a low one to win [Sunday], but in order to do that you need to hit more fairways,” said the 25-year old Texas A&M University alum of the adjustment he needs to make Sunday.

    Ranked second in total birdies on Tour this season, Walker Lee has been the picture of consistency this season, missing only one cut and recording his two top-10s in his last three starts (a solo-fifth finish at the JHSF Brazil Open and a tie for 10th at the Diners Club Peru Open).

    A past PGA TOUR Latinoamérica champion with a win at the 2018 Puerto Plata Open in the Dominican Republic, Andrés Gallegos has had a rough 2022-23 season. Having collected only 77 Totalplay Cup points, he entered this week ranked 92nd in the standings. In a tie for third at 13-under after Saturday’s 65, he has a huge chance to turn his season around Sunday.

    “This is my first time with a chance to win or battle up there, so I have to go on the attack [Sunday], looking for a low round. With so many players making under par I’ll have to go for another 65 or a 64 to really have a chance,” said the 27-year old from Lobos, Argentina. “I need good results in these three (regular season) events left, so it’s nice to have a chance. I’m going to give it all that I have, and we’ll see where that takes me.”

    Despite losing his share of the lead with a third-round, 2-over 72 to slip into a tie for the 15th spot, Bogota native Juan Pablo Luna remains the leading Colombian player. A total of 21 Colombians started the tournament, and the following are the scores and positions for the four of them who made the cut earlier today:

    T15Juan Pablo Luna200 (-10)
    T34Jesús Amaya203 (-7)
    T49Ricardo Celia205 (-5)
    T60Daniel Pico208 (-2)

    Following an opening, 3-over 73, Mariajo Uribe knew she needed a low second round to have a chance to make the cut at the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s Colombia Classic presented by Rocha Brothers. The LPGA Tour member made a great effort between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to card a second-round, 1-under 69. It wasn’t enough, though, as she finished at 2-over 142 to miss the cut by five shots at Ruitoque Golf Country Club, her home course.

    “It was an unforgettable experience. I felt really good out there on the course, very comfortable… I had five birdies on the front nine [Friday], and that gives a good feeling heading into next week. Playing with this mindset that I had this week is going to be helpful, it prepared me to play with the long hitters on [the LPGA] Tour. It was a cool experience,” said Uribe, a two-time Olympian, who is now headed to Jersey City, New Jersey, for the LPGA’s Mizuho Americas Open that begins Thursday at Liberty National Golf Club.

    Third-Round Weather: Cloudy. High of 80. Wind NE at 3-14 mph. Officials suspended play due to lightning in the area, from 12:18 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. for a delay that lasted one hour, 57 minutes.

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