DAYTON — Jake Knapp of Costa Mesa, California and Eric Onesi of Bear, Delaware have been at the top of the leaderboard since the first round and remain tied for the 54-hole lead in Stage One Web.com Tour Qualifying at Dayton Valley Golf Club.
Onesi fired a 6-under 66 that equaled the low round of the day to catch Knapp who shot a 4-under 68 and they are tied at 16-under 200 after three rounds with a five-shot advantage.
Lorens Chan of Honolulu carded a 4-under 68 to take sole possession of third at 11-under 205. Jake Sarnoff from Manhattan Beach, California finished with a 3-under 69 and is in solo fourth at 10-under 206.
Australian Cameron Davis fired a 2-under 70 and Luke McClellan from Bluffton, South Carolina shot 1-over 73 to tie for ninth place at 9-under 207.
Former Nevada Wolf Pack golfer Kevin Lucas from Folsom, California shot a 1-under 71 for a 2-under 214 total that puts him in a six-way tie for 22nd that is right on the number to qualify going into Friday’s final round.
For Knapp and Onesi their solid play through 54-holes has left them in a comfortable and enviable position going into the final round.
While most of the field will be battling the pressure to get in on or under the number to qualify, they just need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and keep their games under control to cruise to the finish line.
“I’m just playing smart and sticking to my game plan,” said the 28-year old Onesi, who put a new putter and driver in his bag before the first round. “I put myself in the right spots to hit the front of these firm greens and let the ball release to the hole and I made some putts. The new putter has really been working well.”
“There is absolutely no pressure going into the final round,” Onesi said.
“If the weather stays as nice as today, I am just going to enjoy the day and play a good round of golf.”
Knapp had an up and down start with two birdies and a double bogey on No. 7 that was his only blemish on the day to turn at even par.
He finished strong for the second straight day by making birdie on three of his last four holes.
“I didn’t have the best day but I finished strong and kept my game heading in the right direction,” said the 22-year old UCLA grad who made his first Dayton Q-school start in 2015 as an amateur.
“I managed my game really well and that’s what it’s all about.”
Knapp has advanced to Second Stage in both of his previous Q-schools at Dayton but never holding the lead going into the final round.
“I just need to stay patient in the final round even though I can relax I still want to play well,” Knapp said.
“It’ll be fun to have a match with Eric (Onesi), he’s a great guy to play with.”
The third round of every 72-hole tournament is known as moving day with some players moving up into contention and others playing out of contention.
The leaderboard watching begins in earnest Friday afternoon when the 23 players within two shots below or above the qualifying number turn-in their scorecards.
Playing in his seventh consecutive Dayton Q-school, Nick Delio from Valencia, California called upon his veteran talents in the third round to equal the low round of the day with a 6-under 66.
That put him back at 4-under for the tournament after a disastrous 6-over 78 in the second round that threatened to keep him from qualifying for the first time.
Delio had a 69.7 career scoring average at Dayton coming in this year.
“The wind gave me a lot of problems yesterday, especially with my putter,” Delio said.
“But I putted very well today and got my game back on track, I just need to keep it going to finish strong.”
Local Jordan Wright from Incline Village, playing in his first Web.com Tour Qualifying tournament, had another rough day with a 7-over 79 and 54-hole total of 15-over 231 that puts him in a tie for 66th and next to last place.
He will play the final round to gain more experience and confidence as he moves on with his professional career.
If the tournament ended today the qualifying score would be 2-under with 27 players advancing to the Second Stage. Eleven players are within four strokes of the cutline number.
Twenty-nine of the remaining 69 players in the field are under par after 36-holes and another three are at even par 216. The field had an overall third round scoring average of 72.46 and the 54-hole average stayed nearly the same at 72.42.
The 22 low scores and ties after Friday’s final round of the 72-hole tournament will advance to Second Stage Web.com Tour Qualifying at five sites in November.
Players advancing to the second stage will play to make the Web.com Qualifying School Final where they will vie for a spot on the 2017 Web.com Tour.
For complete results and individual player scorecards visit the web link: https://pgatq.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/pgatq17/event/pgatq179/contest/1/leaderboard.htm