By Brad Ziemer, Event Journalist
KELOWNA — If three’s a crowd, what’s five? Let’s call it a logjam, which is what we have at the top of the leaderboard at the halfway mark of the GolfBC Championship.
Five players share the 36-hole lead at the Mackenzie Tour event, including a couple of British Columbians.
Callum Davison of Duncan, Yi Cao of Delta, Brendan Leonard of Cambridge, Ont., Sang Lee of Calgary and Etienne Brault of Mercier, Que. all finished Thursday’s second round at eight-under par and three shots clear of the rest of the field.
Davison grabbed a piece of the lead late in the day courtesy of a nice finish. After starting his round on the back nine, where his putter was ice cold, Davison chipped in for birdie on No. 2 (his 11th hole of the day) and then chipped in again for eagle on the par 5 sixth hole. He added birdies on the seventh and nine holes to shoot a five-under 66.
“I hit it really good on the my front nine,” he said. “I hit a bad tee shot on 10 and made bogey from there, but beside that I think I was inside 15 feet on every single hole. I just didn’t make a thing and then I made a couple of chips.
“I am going to go work on the putting right now. I feel like if I can roll the rock a little better and just keep it in the fairway the way I have this week, I should have a good chance.”
Davison has his sights set on the carrot everyone is chasing. He wants to finish No. 1 on the Mackenzie Tour points list. Thanks in large part to a win at one of the tour’s two Prince Edward Island events, Davison currently sits third on the points list.
A win this weekend would be huge.
The top five on the points list at season’s end — after next week’s event in Victoria — earn status on next year’s Mackenzie Tour. The No. 1 finisher is fully exempt, while those second through fifth are guaranteed starts through the tour’s first reshuffle.
“You are trying to win the overall points race because that’s a big perk,” Davison said. “You don’t have to worry about the rest of the year. It’s like this is your schedule, go play.”
Leonard is even closer than Davison to that coveted No. 1 spot. He began the week second on the points list and knows how big the next two days could be for him.
Leonard shot a four-under 67 Thursday and did most of the damage on the front nine.
“I didn’t get off to the hottest start,” he said. “I three-putted the first hole from not that far away and I told myself I was going to birdie the next hole and then I kind of went on a run. I birdied four in a row, made a par on the par 5 (sixth hole) and then birdied the next two. Everything was close on the front, within 10 feet.”
Cao, who plays out of Beach Grove Golf Club in Tsawwassen, rolled in a 35-foot putt for birdie on his last hole late in the day to join the party at eight-under.
First-round leader Brault made his birdies in bunches Thursday. He rattled off four in a row to finish his front nine, then added two more to end his round. He also had two bogeys and a double and shot a two-under 69.
Lee shot a three-under 68 Thursday and hopes he can close the deal here after not being able to hang onto a couple of leads earlier this season.
“Luckily, I was in this situation a couple of times earlier in the season, so I think I’ll just kind of reflect on what happened during those events where I couldn’t quite get the win,” Lee said. “Mostly, it is just stuff getting in my own head.”
There’s another logjam behind the first-place logjam. Six players are tied for sixth place at five-under, including Vancouver’s Ilirian Zalli and Kelowna’s Cole Wilson.
Wilson started his round with a bogey, but rebounded to shoot a two-under 69.
“I bounced right back with a birdie after that opening bogey and settled in from there,” Wilson said. “I had a couple of really good par saves early on 12 and 13 and from there I just went out and attacked the golf course and made a couple of nice long birdie putts on my back nine. I was able to compose myself and not let that train take off and get away from me.”
The field was cut to the low 50 players and ties after Thursday’s round. The cut fell at four-over par.