(Bath, ON) – In an impressive show of skill and composure, Kitchener, Ontario’s Chris Hemmerich is making the most of his professional debut at The Great Waterway Classic.
The 21-year, playing on a sponsor’s exemption as a recent graduate of Golf Canada’s National Amateur team, took the solo lead during Saturday’s third round at Loyalist Golf and Country Club before play was suspended due to darkness, reaching 17-under with a birdie on the 15th hole, his last of the day, to lead by two over England’s Kelvin Day.
“I knew that if I came in playing well, I might not be sleeping on a lead, but I could definitely put myself in contention on Sunday,” said Hemmerich, stating a goal that has clearly been accomplished with one day to go. “I just hope that I can finish off those three holes strong tomorrow and be in there battling for it on the last nine holes of the tournament.”
The 21-year old former University of Guelph Gryphon began the day by concluding his second round, which had been delayed on Friday, and reaching 10-under and a tie for third through 36 holes. Through 15 holes in Round 3, Hemmerich is 7-under and without a bogey, putting him squarely in contention for Sunday’s finale.
“I just continued what I’ve been doing each of the first two days. I’ve started to putt a little bit better each day, and I’m just trying to hit fairways and greens,” Hemmerich, the 2014 Ontario Amateur Champion.
The third round will resume at 8:30 AM on Sunday, with fourth round times expected to run from 10:40 AM to 12:30 PM. Groups will once again tee off in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees.
Despite being up against some stiff competition, Hemmerich said he doesn’t expect to feel too many extra nerves on Sunday, and that he’ll rely on his existing competitive experience.
“I won the Ontario Am this year, and that wasn’t sleeping on the lead, but I was close,” Hemmerich said. “I’m pretty easy-going, so I tend not to put too much pressure on myself. It’s towards the end of the season anyway, so it will be hard to get into the top five. I’m just out here enjoying myself and trying to get a little bit of experience going into next year.”
Day, who began the third round tied for the lead with California’s Micah Burke, had carded two birdies, an eagle and a bogey on the day before play was suspended to sit in solo second spot at 15-under. Argentina’s Tommy Cocha, who fired a 6-under 66 in round three, and Burlington, Ontario’s Michael Gligic were one shot further back at 14-under when play was suspended.
DAY MAKING THE MOST OF LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
While he may be a native of England and calls Charlotte, North Carolina home, Kelvin Day is putting some local knowledge to use this week at Loyalist Golf and Country Club. The Charleston Southern University alum is staying at the home of current Charleston Southern player Austin James, just off the 18th hole.
That would be the same Austin James whose father, Geoff, is the head professional at Loyalist, and comes from a family that boasts arguably more local knowledge than anyone. 18-year old Austin is the reigning Canadian Junior Boys Champion, and sister Augusta, 21, is the reigning Canadian Women’s Amateur Champion.
“Austin, after he heard that I got through at Q-School, told me ‘Hey, when you get up here, just give me a shout and stay at my place,” said Day. “I played the back nine with Austin on Wednesday morning, and him and his dad kind of took me through it a little bit. They told me where to go, where not to go.”
As for his comfort level staying close by in friendly confines? Day said he’s clearly enjoying himself this week.
“I don’t know what Mrs. James is cooking with, but it’s obviously working right now,” Day said.
Weather: 23 degrees (29 degrees with Humidex). Cloudy skies giving way to sunshine in the evening. Winds E 11 km/h.
Chris Hemmerich is making his first start on PGA TOUR Canada as a professional. Previously, he missed the cut at the PC Financial Open and finished T35 at the Staal Foundation presented by Tbaytel as an amateur.
Hemmerich’s amateur accomplishments include a win at the 2014 Ontario Amateur Championship and two OUA Championships while at the University of Guelph.
The last non-member to win on PGA TOUR Canada is Max Gilbert at the 2013 TOUR Championship of Canada presented by Freedom 55 Financial.
The last sponsor’s exemption to win on PGA TOUR Canada is Eugene Wong at the 2012 TOUR Championship of Canada
The best result by a Golf Canada National Amateur Team Exemption on PGA TOUR Canada is T3 by Mackenzie Hughes at The Players Cup in 2013.
With Order of Merit leader Joel Dahmen missing the cut, Tim Madigan (T8) and Sean Shahi (T27) are now the only two players to make the cut in every PGA TOUR Canada event this season.
Michael Gligic won 13 CJGA titles in his junior career. The CJGA is the event operator for The Great Waterway Classic.
The 54-hole leader or co-leader has gone on to win six of eight times this season on PGA TOUR Canada.
Third Round* Leaderboard
*Play suspended due to darkness, set to resume Sunday at 8:30 AM
1. Chris Hemmerich -7/15 (-17)
2. Kelvin Day -3/13 (-15)
T3. Michael Gligic -5/17 (-14)
T3. Tommy Cocha 66 (-14)
Source: PGA Tour Canada