Pros bat­tle to­day in fi­nal round of the Pa­cific Links Bear Moun­tain Cham­pi­onship

Times Colonist - - Front Page - MARIO ANNICCHIARICO man­nic­chiarico@times­colonist.com Twit­ter/tc_vic­sports

David McKen­zie knows Vic­to­ria well, hav­ing met his wife, Ju­lia Roberge, here on the air­port shut­tle to down­town back in his Cana­dian Tour play­ing days.

What he hasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced, at least yet, is how to win in the B.C. cap­i­tal.

The Aus­tralian golfer is tied for the lead with Jerry Smith, of Coun­cil Bluffs, Iowa, head­ing into to­day’s fi­nal round of the Pa­cific Links Bear Moun­tain Cham­pi­onship, at 12-un­der 130.

If McKen­zie, who earned his way into the event in a three-man play­off for the fi­nal spot in a pre­qual­i­fier on Tues­day, can pull off the cham­pi­onship, he would be­come the first Tues­day qual­i­fier to claim vic­tory on PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons since Wil­lie Wood turned the dif­fi­cult trick back in 2012.

“It would be nice. My thoughts at the mo­ment are just keep play­ing,” McKen­zie said.

“I have an­other qual­i­fier on Tues­day [at the next tour stop at Peb­ble Beach, Cal­i­for­nia] if I don’t win or fin­ish in the top 10 here. I’ll plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

McKen­zie’s sec­ond-round 7-un­der 64 on Satur­day tied Amer­i­cans Lee Janzen and Gary Hall­berg for low scores of the day.

“I just scored re­ally well,” McKen­zie said. “I don’t think I hit it enor­mously well, but things just turned out roses to­day. Some days it doesn’t, but to­day it did.”

McKen­zie played nu­mer­ous Times Colonist and Vic­to­ria Opens back in the day. His last was the 2003 event at Royal Col­wood. He also com­peted at Cor­dova Bay, Gorge Vale and Up­lands, but he never won on that tour.

He even­tu­ally com­peted on the PGA Tour in 2006, where he had two top 10s and, de­spite lim­it­ing his play this sea­son, he qual­i­fied for the Se­nior Bri­tish Open, in which he fin­ished tied for ninth.

“I’m just try­ing to stand up­right and play golf,” McKen­zie said of en­ter­ing the fi­nal round tied for the lead with $270,000 US up for grabs for first place.

“If I play well that’s good. If I play bad, I’m still happy — it’s not the end of the world,” said McKen­zie, who lives in Mel­bourne.

At the other end of the spec­trum, Smith is in a fa­mil­iar po­si­tion, this be­ing the third time he’ll play in the fi­nal group in the past five weeks.

He has yet to win though, hav­ing fin­ished sec­ond to Jerry Kelly at the Boe­ing Clas­sic, de­spite shoot­ing a 64 on Sun­day.

Smith also tied for ninth at the Dick’s Sport­ing Goods Open and bal­looned to a 77 at the Insper­ity In­vi­ta­tional to fin­ish tied for 22nd.

“I’m glad to be where I am. The last group is al­ways good,” Smith said.

“I’ve been there a few times this year. I’ve had one good Sun­day and one not so good, so maybe the third time’s the charm.”

Kelly, one of the favourites com­ing in, is lurk­ing a shot behind Smith and McKen­zie af­ter his round of 5-un­der 66 for a 131 to­tal. The three play in the last group to­day at 12:20 p.m

Janzen, a two-time U.S. Open win­ner, is an­other shot back af­ter his own 64 on Satur­day.

Janzen played his way into the pic­ture by record­ing one ea­gle, eight birdies and three bo­geys.

“That’s too many bo­geys. The one thing [Jack] Nick­laus did best was bo­gey avoid­ance,” Janzen said. “The good news was I hit it close to the hole a lot and con­verted, but the bo­geys I should have avoided.”

John Daly went the wrong way on Day 2 with an 8-over 79 which in­cluded two triple-bo­geys, five bo­geys and three birdies, play­ing in front of a huge gallery all day and wear­ing Maple Leaf pants.

CO-LEADER JERRY SMITH

DAR­REN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

David McKen­zie plays the 17th hole dur­ing the Pa­cific Links Bear Moun­tain Cham­pi­onship on Satur­day.

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