By Brad Ziemer
Lorens Chan has the lead heading into Sunday’s final round of the GolfBC Championship, an event the Hawaiian native credits with helping jump-start his professional golf career.
Chan played the first two years of the PGA Tour Canada-Mackenzie Tour event, in 2016 and 2017, on a sponsor’s exemption granted by Caleb Chan, owner of GolfBC’s parent company, Burrard International Holdings.
“This my fourth year here and I got sponsor’s exemptions the first and second years,” Chan said. “I am not related to the owner, we have the same last name, but he has been a close friend of my dad’s for a long time. He helped jump-start my career, basically.
“I have been playing golf with Uncle Caleb basically since I started when I was 11 and 12. He comes to Hawaii quite often. He is a member of the same course my family is at. So I have played quite a bit with him, kind of helped him, given him a few tips. It has been nice support over the years.”
In fact, Chan received a video message from Caleb Chan before Saturday’s third round, wishing him good luck. The 25-year-old UCLA grad responded by firing a four-under 67 to get to 13-under par. Three players, Kyler Dunkle of Peoria, Ariz., Jonathan Garrick of Atherton, Calif., and Jake Knapp of Costa Mesa, Calif., are one shot back.
Chan acknowledges that getting his first big pro win at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club would be special.
“I missed the cut the first year and I kind of took advantage the second year and was able to get some (Mackenzie Tour) status,” he said. “It is kind of why I am here today. “The tournament has a bit more of a personal meaning for me. But I’ll take a chance to win at any tournament.”
Chan made his only bogey of the day on the first hole, but quickly got that shot back with a birdie on No. 2. He eagled the par 5 sixth hole and then birdied the ninth to make the turn in 33 shots.
He knows he will likely need lots of birdies Sunday to hold off a number of close pursuers.
“At a lot of events it takes 20-under or more to win, which is basically five-under a day. The greens are little bit firm so it might be little harder to do that here. Anything in the 60s and I think I will have a shot.”
Chan, Knapp and Garrick are all former UCLA Bruins, who played four years together in Southern California.
Garrick and Knapp both shot one-under 70s on Saturday.
“I didn’t play very well,” Garrick said. “I had to try really hard to shoot a decent number. I had to make putts and get up and down and stay in it mentally. I just hit it pretty bad. I still have an opportunity Sunday, I just have to get some rest. I’m only one shot back.”
So is Dunkle, a rookie pro who just finished his collegiate golf career at the University of Utah. Dunkle eagled both of the par 5s on the front nine en route to a five-under 66.
“It was really a fun day,” Dunkle said. “It’s hard not to enjoy it when you are at a place like this with good golf and good weather.”
Order of Merit leader Paul Barjon of France, who won the previous Mackenzie Tour stop in Victoria, shot himself into contention with a a five-under 66 that moved him to 11-under. Barjon did not have much going Saturday until he birdied his final five holes.
He expects Sunday to be a shootout.
“Someone can shoot 60 easily (here),” he said. “You could literally make 10 birdies.”
Three players are three shots back at 10-under, including Ian Holt of Stow, Ohio, who shot the round of the day, a nine-under 63.
Holt shot a 28 on the front nine, after a hole-in-one on the par 3 eighth followed by an eagle on No. 9.
“The front nine was a whirlwind,” Holt said. “I was four-under going into 8 and had a nice little hole-in-one. I told my caddie, ‘I don’t know how to top this.’ And then made eagle on the next hole, too. It was great. I played well all around. Hit the ball really well on the back nine, just couldn’t get the ball to fall.”
Former B.C. Junior champion Riley Wheeldon is the top Canadian. Wheeldon shot his third straight 68 and is tied for ninth place at nine-under par.
Play begins at 7:45 a.m. Sunday with the final group teeing off at 1 p.m.