Chan charges to big lead after 54-holes in Tour Qualifier at Dayton Valley

DAYTON — Lorens Chan of Los Angeles, Calif. fired a 7-under 65 for a 15-under 201 total that gives him a commanding seven shot 54-hole lead in Stage One Tour Qualifying at Dayton Valley Golf Club.

Ben Geyer, Arbuckle, Calif., carded a 3-under 69 and is in second place at 8-under 208. S.J. Park, La Habra, Calif., came in with a 2-under 70 and is in third at 7-under 209. Jimmy Makloski, Pueblo, Colo., slipped to a 1-over 73 and is in solo fourth at 6-under 210.

Former Nevada Wolf Pack golfer Kaleb Gorbahn, Reno, shot a 3-under 69 for a 5-under 211 total that puts him in a four-way tie for fifth. Neil Johnson, River Falls, Wisc., tied Chan’s 7-under 65 for low round of the tournament and jumped 24 spots up the leaderboard into the fifth-place tie. Paul Imondi, Tustin, Calif., used a hole-in-one on the par 3 13th to card a 2-under 70 and Johnny Ruiz, Camarillo, Calif., fired a 1-under 71 to round out the quartet tied at 211.

Chan’s solid play through 54-holes has left him 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, Chan just needs to keep his hands on the steering wheel and keep his game under control to cruise to the finish line.

“Today was good and it helped that I got off to a good start,” said Chan who just missed getting his Tour card in last year’s Q-school finals. “I played smart golf and put myself in the right spots and made putts.

“I still have to show-up tomorrow, stay focused and get the job done,” Chan concluded.

Playing in his sixth Dayton Q-school, Johnson didn’t let a double-bogey on No. 7 and even par front nine stop him. He fired a rare 7-under 29 on the back nine.

“That 29 changes everything for the whole tournament,” he said acknowledging that moving from a precarious position to qualify to a position four stokes above the cutline was comforting. “I started out birdie, eagle, birdie on the back nine and gained a ton of confidence.

“As I gained confidence the putts started going in,” Johnson said. “I made more feet of putts on the back nine than I did in the first 45 holes. It was a great time for it to happen and now I just need to keep that momentum and stay focused to get to the next Stage.”

Playing in his first professional event and first Q-school, Gorbahn feels like he is gaining valuable experience with each round he plays at this level.

“I got off to a good start and was 3-under through the first five holes and then I just sort of fell into a rut,” Gorbahn said as he played the last 13 holes in even par with three birdies and three bogeys. “I’m trying to get better every round so I would like to eliminate some of the mistakes.”

For example, his tee shot on the 394-yard 10th hole ended up just five yards from the green, but he walked off with a bogey on the hole. “I’d like to get it further under par tomorrow and the opportunities are out there,” he said. “But I don’t have to do anything special and just keep it in front of me to qualify.”

Imondi used an 8-iron to ace the 203-yard 13th hole that was playing down wind to a tucked front right pin placement.

“None of us saw it land, and when we got to the green there were only two balls on the green when we had all hit the green,” he explained. “Then we saw a pitch mark about 10 feet short of the pin and the spectators started yelling to look in the hole and it was my ball!”

Imondi, who spent most of the year playing on the PGA China Tour, is playing in his sixth Dayton Q-school and has advanced every year but one. Yet he has never gotten through the Second Stage to the Final Stage.

“I put myself in position to do my own thing tomorrow, but I’d like to make some more birdies,” he said. “I’d just like to get through this and maybe the ace means it’s my year to get to finals.”

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 19 players within two shots below or above the qualifying number turn-in their scorecards.

Local Trent Virden, of Reno, shot a second straight 2-over 74 and 54-hole total of 4-over 220 that puts him in a tie for 42nd place. Former Wolf Pack star Grant Booth, Reno, continued to improve with a 3-under 69 and 9-over 225 total that probably left him wondering “what if.” He is 3-under par since a disastrous opening round 84.

If the tournament ended today the qualifying score would be 1-under with 23 players advancing to the Second Stage. Fifteen players are within four strokes of the cutline number.

The 23 who would theoretically qualify of the remaining 74 players in the field are the only ones under par after 54-holes and another three are at even par 216. The field had an overall third round scoring average of 72.76 and the 54-hole average stayed nearly the same at 73.25.

The 22 low scores and ties after Friday’s final round of the 72-hole tournament will advance to Second Stage Tour Qualifying at five sites in November. Players advancing to the second stage will play to make the Qualifying School Final where they will vie for a spot on the 2019 Tour.


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