Kevin Chappell called his third-round 68 at the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic “pretty boring.” The bad news was that Chappell managed only three birdies and little else during his uneventful Saturday at the Georgian Bay Club, but the good news was that the 24-year-old Californian increased his lead to five strokes heading into Sunday’s finale.
Chappell has led from the start in the Nationwide Tour’s pro-am event and his 3-under score Saturday put him at 22 under and nearly out of range.
Playing partner Keegan Bradley carded a 1-under 70 and stands alone in second at 17 under par. Gavin Coles (65) and Bobby Gates (67) share fourth place at 15 under, seven back of the leader who has been at the top of the list since an opening-day 61.
Daniel Summerhays (65), Martin Piller (67), Peter Tomasulo (67) and 2008 champion Justin Hicks (68) are knotted in fifth place, eight behind Chappell, who is trying to become the Tour’s first wire-to-wire winner in nearly two years.
“I just kept telling myself to keep hitting fairways greens and I thought they’d fall in at some point,” said the leader. “They didn’t fall in today but I kept my momentum going into tomorrow and I built on a lead. If the putts fall tomorrow it should be a fun round.”
Chappell celebrated his birthday on Thursday but wasn’t in a party mood after hitting 15 greens in regulation but missing too many birdie chances. He counted at least seven misses from inside of 12 feet, including a 5-footer for eagle at the par-5, 13thhole.
“I had a lot of opportunities, especially on the front nine,” he said. “I had some early on the back nine and then struggled later in the round.”
Despite his attempt to completely distance himself from the field, the field had too much ground to make up.
Bradley was three back to start the day but lost ground thanks to 35 putts.
“I actually played the same,” said Bradley, who blistered the Georgian Bay Club with a course-record 61 on Friday. “It was a good day, I played great. I just did’t make many putts. I did hit some good putts that didn’t go in and that last three-putt on 18 stings a little bit.”
Third-Round Notes:Kevin Chappell is attempting to become the first wire-to-wire winner on the Nationwide Tour since Colt Knost at the 2008 Price Cutter Charity Championship. Earlier this year, Bobby Gates shared the first-round lead but led outright after that and won the season-opening Michael Hill New Zealand Open. The following week in Australia, Jim Herman led after the first and second rounds at the Moonah Classic but shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won in a playoff.
Chappell has played the first 54 holes without a bogey. … His 54-hole total of 192 is the lowest on the Nationwide Tour this year. The previous low was 193 by John Riegger at the Rex Hospital Open, which was shortened to 54 holes. Riegger posted rounds of 66-64-63 for a 20-under total and a five-stroke win. … Chappell broke the tournament 54-hole record of 196 (18-under) set by champion Roger Tambellini last year. … Arjun Atwal holds the Nationwide Tour record for most strokes under par through 54 holes. Atwal was 24-under at the 2008 Chattanooga Classic, which he won in a playoff over Webb Simpson.
Peter Tomasulo eagled the par-5,13th hole for his third eagle of the week. Tomasulo has had one eagle during each of the first three rounds. He shot a 67 and is tied for fifth place. .. Gavin Coles’ 65 is his lowest round of the year. Coles had four birdies and an eagle and is now 15 under through 54 holes. … Daniel Summerhays matched his lowest round of the year with his 6-under 65. Summerhays also posted a 65 in the third round of the Stadion Athens Classic, where he finished solo second. Summerhays is at 14 under par and tied for fifth place.