By Brad Ziemer

KELOWNA — If the GolfBC Championship could be likened to a horse race, the leaders have rounded the clubhouse turn and are heading for home.

It’s shaping up to be quite the stretch run in Sunday’s final round of the $200,000 PGA TOUR Canada event at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club.

After three rounds, a longshot by the name of James Hervol leads by a nose — one shot — over three players with several others in close pursuit.

Hervol, a 25-year-old Pittsburgh native, shot a four-under 67 Saturday and is 17-under through three rounds.

It is unfamiliar territory this season for Hervol, who missed his first six cuts before making his last two. His best finish is a tie for 29th.

“You want to play well every week and you always do what you can to do that,” Hervol said. “Some weeks it just works better than others. I am having one of those weeks.”

Hervol does not like to know where he stands during a round and said he will ignore leaderboards in Sunday’s final round.

“I make my game plan trying to shoot the best score I possibly can,” he said. “Not knowing where I stand or what I need to make on a certain hole, I don’t think that is going to help me in any way play the hole any better.
“The only time it might be good to know is if I’ve got a couple shot lead on 18. But even then I don’t think I’d play that hole any differently.”

Hervol, currently ranked 120th on the Fortinet Cup points list, insisted he won’t feel any extra pressure on Sunday.

“No, I have got nothing to lose. Just go out and play some good golf and see what happens.”

In addition to leaderboards, he might also want to avoid looking in the rear-view mirror. He’s got a whole bunch of guys breathing down his neck.

Two of the three players tied for second at 16-under — Texan Noah Goodwin and Scott Stevens of Birmingham, Ala.– have already won this year. The other, Gavin Hall of Rochester, N.Y., has two top-10s.

Stevens, who won the season-opening event at Uplands Golf Club in Victoria, is finding British Columbia to his liking.

“There is definitely something in the water here,” said Stevens, who shot a five-under 66 on Sunday and knows he’ll need lots more birdies on Sunday.

“Especially on this course, you can take it pretty low,” he said. “There has been a 59 in the past and there have been quite a few low scores this week. So you’re just going to have to keep making birdies and a lot of different people could move up the leaderboard and a lot of people are going to have a chance to win.”

Goodwin, the second-round leader, had the lead much of  the day but made two bogeys late in his round to fall one back. He shot a two-under 69.

“It was just sloppy golf,” he said. “It happens at times. . .

Obviously, I would have liked to have made a few more down the stretch, but it is what it is. I know that my game is in a good place right now, I know I am rolling the putter well and as long as I give myself birdie looks I know I am going to make some here and there.”

Hall, the other player at 16-under, had two eagles in a four-hole stretch on his front nine en route to his six-under 65.

“I did what you need to do on the par 5s,” he said. “You want to put it in the fairway and kind of get it down the slope and then you can have somewhat of a shorter iron and I did that on both of the par 5s on the front. I hit good approaches and made the putts.”

Ten players are within three shots of the lead, including a familiar name at Gallagher’s Canyon. Defending champion Jake Knapp, who won here in 2019 and is currently second on the Fortinet Cup points list, fired a six-under 65 Saturday and sits at 14-under. The Californian thinks he has a shot at challenging on Sunday, but knows he’ll have to go really low.

“I have had some low rounds out here in the past,” Knapp said. “Hopefully, it plays tough here tomorrow so the guys in the lead can’t go crazy low. I think you’re most likely going to have to get to 22- or 23-under to have a chance. I’ll go out tomorrow and try and make as many birdies as I can and see where it puts me.”

Max Sekulic, the 2021 Canadian Amateur champion from Rycroft, Alta., is the top Canadian at 13-under par following a three-under 68 on Saturday.

Kimberley’s Jared du Toit is the low British Columbian. He shot a five-under 66 Saturday and is tied for 18th at 11-under. Sunday’s winner receives $36,000. The leaders will tee off around 1 p.m.