-Brad Fritsch of Manotick 5 Off Lead-
(Canadian Tour) Desert Hot Springs, CA., – Local boy Byron Smith has jumped into the lead at the Desert Dunes Classic after a stellar third round 5-under-par 67 on Saturday. Smith who grew up in nearby Rancho Mirage, CA, just a 15-minute drive from Desert Dunes Golf Club, carded four birdies, an eagle and an unfortunate bogey which came on the 17th hole.
Heading into the final hole Smith was tied with two-time Canadian Tour winner Kent Eger who matched Smith’s opening 32 on the 6,900 yard Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout. Eger’s untimely bogey on the 433-yard par 4 18th put him one shot back heading into the final round which begins at 8:20AM Sunday.
“Kent played well all day and we had a battle going for most of the day,” admitted Smith, who is looking for his fourth Canadian Tour win. “The conditions were tough today and overall I’m pleased with the way I played,” said Smith, who had a number of family and friends following him on the course.
A win tomorrow would be bitter sweet for Smith, who missed out on advancing through the first stage of PGA TOUR Q-School last week. Since winning the Canadian Tour Order of Merit in 2007 Smith has been regarded as one of the top players on the Canadian Tour but has yet to live up to the lofty expectations that have placed upon him.
“You know it was a terrible feeling to miss last week but I decided to put it behind me and come into this week with a fresh outlook,” confessed Smith who has never advanced past second stage of PGA TOUR Q-School. “It’s frustrating and I’m sure if I win tomorrow a number of emotions will overcome me from frustration to bitterness to elation but I’m sure I’ll be on the top of the world once it all settles in,” admitted Smith, who finished T8 in 2010 at Desert Dunes.
Two past winners on the Canadian Tour including Kent Eger and Ryan Yip will join Smith in the final pairing. Eger, the overnight leader, shot his third straight round of 69. Eger is the only player in the field to fire three straight rounds in the 60’s and overall is happy with his play despite bogeying his final hole of the day.
“You have to put those things behind you and focus on the positives,” said Eger following his round. “I’ve won out here before and I have the confidence in myself that I know I can do it again,” said the two-time winner of the Seaforth Country Classic.
Yip rallied today after opening up the tournament with a 70 followed by a 72. The third place finisher from the 2010 Desert Dunes Classic matched the round of the day with a 5-under-par 67 and sits three shots off the lead. Yip will be looking to build on the momentum from his second place finish two weeks ago at first stage of PGA TOUR Q-School.
2010 Champion and Canada’s top ranked professional golfer, Adam Hadwin, sits at 5-under-par for the tournament after three rounds. Hadwin sits five shots off the lead and will be joined by first round leader Stu Anderson (-7) and Brad Fritsch in the penultimate pairing of the day.