Bell stays steady to take third round lead in Korn Ferry Tour Qualifier at Dayton Valley | NevadaAppeal.com

Bell stays steady to take third round lead in Korn Ferry Tour Qualifier at Dayton Valley

By Larry Windsor

DAYTON — Robert Bell, Pierz, Minn. carded a second consecutive 2-under par 70 for an 8-under 208 total to take a one-shot lead after the third round of Stage One Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying at Dayton Valley Golf Club. Tied for second at 7-under 209 is the trio of Skyler Finnell, Carmel, Calif. with a 2-under 70, Derek Bayley, Rathdrum, Idaho also shot 2-under 70 and Frederik Nilehn, Lubbock, Tex. shot even par 72.

Second round co-leaders Rafael Becker, Dallas, Tex. and Eddie Olson, Aptos, Calif. both shot 2-over 74 for 6-under 210 totals to slip into a fifth-place tie with Ben Polland, Jacksonville, Fla. who carded a 1-under 71. 

Neil Johnson, River Falls, Wisc. with a 2-under 70 and Connor Blick, Alamo, Calif. carded a 1-under 71 to be tied for eighth at 5-under 211.

Reno’s Trent Virden carded an even par 72 for a 3-under 213 total that puts him in a five-way tie for 12th. The McQueen High grad is in good position at 2 strokes clear of the current qualifying number.

Cold, windy conditions continued to impact play on the challenging Arnold Palmer-designed course. Greens firmed up and continued to be very fast and the gusty winds increased as the round developed.

Only 14 players broke par in the 3rd round and eight shot even par. The field total scoring average moved up to 74.08 in the 3rd round from 73.42 in the 2nd round and the 54-hole scoring average is 73.19.

The third round is known as moving day on Tour and Juan Carlos Serrano, Mexico City, Mex. fired a 3-under 69 to leap up 17 positions on the leaderboard to even par 216 and just one shot above the qualifying number. Jason Thresher, West Suffield, Conn. fired the low round of the day with a 4-under 68 and moved up 16 positions into a tie for 10th at 4-under 212.

Bell is playing in his fifth Q-school at Dayton and his persistence is paying off. “I came in this year with a well thought out game plan similar to what I have done in the past,” he explained. “And the difference is this year we executed it. I played really well with a great front nine in these tough conditions.

“For the first time I felt totally ready for the grueling process of Q-school,” said the former Minnesota Gopher golfer. “I had a great year on the Dakotas Tour and gained a big dose of confidence for the only tournament that matters which is this Q-school and going forward.”

Virden was glad to come back with an even par round despite playing the two par 3s on the back nine 5-over.

“It was an up and down round, but I hit some really good iron shots into the wind that makes me feel confident going forward,” said the local favorite. “I putted better than yesterday but it was still just mediocre, so I know I can shoot a score with better putting.”

Virden missed qualifying at Dayton last year by just one shot and feels that experience will help him cross the qualifying threshold in the final round.

“With the tough conditions I don’t have to go too low in the next round,” he explained. “I am going to focus on not making mistakes and making aggressive swings at conservative targets.”

Former Nevada Wolf Pack golfer Kaleb Gorbahn, Smithers, BC, Can. shot 9-over 81 for a 15-over 231 total that virtually eliminates him from qualifying.

The 20 low scores and ties after Friday’s final round of the 72-hole tournament will advance to Second Stage Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying at five sites in November. Players advancing to the second stage will play to make the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School Final where they will vie for a spot on the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour.

For complete results and individual player scorecards visit the web link: https://pgatq.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/pgatq19/event/pgatq1910/contest/1/leaderboard.htm