By Brad Ziemer
No introductions were needed on the first tee when Jonathan Garrick and Jake Knapp played in Saturday’s final pairing of the GolfBC Championship. These two guys know one another really well.
Garrick and Knapp, who at 11-under share the 36-hole lead of the PGA Tour Canada-Mackenzie Tour event, spent four years as college roommates at UCLA. And their closest pursuer, Lorens Chan, played on the same Bruin golf team.
“You don’t see that every week, no matter what Tour you’re on, three guys at the top of the leaderboard from the same school and same class,” Knapp said. “It’s nice to see three Bruins on top.”
Knapp, who had the lead to himself after Thursday’s first round, fired a four-under 67 on Friday to get to 11-under. Garrick shot the low round of the day, a seven-under 64, to catch his former roomie.
This will be the first time they have played together in a professional event.
“It’ll be a nice walk being able to be with one of my best friends,” Knapp said. “It’ll be nice to play 18 holes together. We’re very close friends. We’re going to go to dinner tonight together. We’ll chat nonstop.”
Knapp, a 25-year-old native of Costa Mesa, Calif., won the season-opening Canada Life Open in Vancouver last month and could take a big step toward gaining Web.com Tour status with another win this week.
Garrick missed his first two cuts of the season and after three years on the Mackenzie Tour is anxious to graduate to the Web.com Tour.
“I have gotten better on the money list each year and I have been close to winning,” said the 25-year-old Garrick, who hails from Chicago.
But you can only keep improving so much without moving to the Web.com or the PGA. That is kind of where my head is at. I have had a couple runner-ups and a couple top-5s and I am still here. I have to win one. I feel like that is what I have to do to get to the Web.”
One of those top-5 finishes came in the inaugural GolfBC Championship in 2016, when Garrick tied for fifth place.
“That was the first cheque I ever made, so I have got some good vibes here,” he said.
Chan is two shots back alone in third place at nine-under after firing a six-under 65 on Friday.
“We all started the same year at UCLA,” said Chan, a 25-year-old native of Hawaii. “We’ve known each other since junior golf.”
Riley Wheeldon of Comox was the top Canadian through 36 holes. Wheeldon shot his second straight three-under 68 and sits in a tie for 12th at six-under. Early in his round, it looked like Wheeldon was going to go much lower.
“Two birdies and an eagle to start,” Wheeldon said. “I was four-under through three, obviously a dream start. I chipped in on my first, made a good putt on 11 and then I hit it to like four feet for eagle on 12. And I actually burned the edge on the next three holes as well, so it could have been a crazy start. But I kind of got stale, saw some edges and a couple of bad strokes and I was just kind of holding on there for a while. I got one to drop on the last hole, which is nice.”
Three other Canadians made cut. Richmond amateur Chris Crisologo is tied for 45th at two-under par. Jared du Toit of Kimberley and John Mlikotic of Kelowna both made the cut on the number at one-under par.
Sixty-eight players will play this weekend. The leaders tee off at 1 p.m. and play starts at 7:45 a.m.