November 16, 2018

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Smokin' seven

McCumber fires seven-under 65 to grab Players Cup lead

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Player Cup leader Drew Weaver lines up his last putt of the day at the 18th hole, Saturday afternoon.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Player Cup leader Drew Weaver lines up his last putt of the day at the 18th hole, Saturday afternoon.

Tyler McCumber might just be the hottest golfer on the planet right now. And the Florida pro is in prime position to win for the third time in less than a month as he sits alone on top of The Players Cup leaderboard heading into the final round.

McCumber, 27, fired a seven-under 65 Saturday that puts him at 17-under through three rounds. He's now a combined 117-under par in his last 23 rounds of tournament golf which include wins in Brampton and Edmonton, along with a third-place finish last week in Calgary.

"I’m getting comfortable up there, for sure," McCumber said of his familiar place on the leaderboard.

“There’s a lot of good golf out there being played. You can’t really shoot one and two-under and expect to get the results that you’re looking for. Starting the day, I wasn’t really sure, I haven’t seen the guys playing the course with this wind, but (the scores) were lower than I thought they would be.”

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Tyler McCumber might just be the hottest golfer on the planet right now. And the Florida pro is in prime position to win for the third time in less than a month as he sits alone on top of The Players Cup leaderboard heading into the final round.

McCumber, 27, fired a seven-under 65 Saturday that puts him at 17-under through three rounds. He's now a combined 117-under par in his last 23 rounds of tournament golf which include wins in Brampton and Edmonton, along with a third-place finish last week in Calgary.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Tyler McCumber is a combined minus-117 in his last 23 rounds of golf. He's in the last pairing with No. 2 Drew Weaver Sunday.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Tyler McCumber is a combined minus-117 in his last 23 rounds of golf. He's in the last pairing with No. 2 Drew Weaver Sunday.

"I’m getting comfortable up there, for sure," McCumber said of his familiar place on the leaderboard. 

"There’s a lot of good golf out there being played. You can’t really shoot one and two-under and expect to get the results that you’re looking for. Starting the day, I wasn’t really sure, I haven’t seen the guys playing the course with this wind, but (the scores) were lower than I thought they would be."

One stroke behind the sizzling son of former PGA regular Mark McCumber is veteran Drew Weaver, who also shot a 65 to get to 16-under. They'll be paired together in the final twosome which tees off at 1 p.m. Sunday at Southwood Golf & Country Club.

'There's a lot of good golf out there being played. You can't really shoot one and two under and expect to get the results that you're looking for' — Tyler McCumber, The Players Cup leader after three rounds 

Weaver, 31, is in his 10th year of pro golf and has the kind of pedigree rarely seen on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada. He's played several events on the PGA Tour including three majors in the 2009 U.S. Open (he finished 40th), 2008 Masters (missed cut) and 2007 British Open (missed cut), which he qualified for after winning the 2007 British Amateur.

The Virginia native played eight other PGA tournaments in his career and was a regular on the Web.com Tour the past two seasons but didn't win enough money in his 23 total events (just over $70,000) to keep his card. 

Weaver is also a former winner on the Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada, capturing a 2015 event in Vancouver. Now he's back on Canadian soil, looking to play his ay back to the next level. This is just his fourth event of the season as he's spent much of his time trying to Monday qualify for Web events.

"I stuck to the Web Mondays, played really well but just never got through any of them. I think I did 12 or 13 in a row. That was tough," said Weaver, who admits he has considered walking away entirely from the sport if things don't turn around.

That's why this week may prove to be a pivotal turning point. After starting off 69-66, he had six birdies, an eagle and a bogey in Saturday's round as the winds finally picked up and made scoring conditions more difficult than they had been on Thursday and Friday.

"Once I got a piece of momentum I just kind of ran with it. That’s what I’ve tried to tell myself most of the summer. If I can just get a little bit of momentum in any way, shape or form, then I’m going to do my best to build on it," said Weaver. He credited his caddy, Southwood member David Nelson, with helping him navigate the course.

"I could walk away from the game and say I’ve done some pretty incredible things. So it’s good to have that perspective. But I still am very hungry to do well and get back there," Weaver said of his current mindset.

"I know I can contend on every level. I just want to utilize these starts to help me make my fall a little easier, get me some momentum and go tee it wherever I can. I went and signed up for tour school and it’s probably my last go at it, I’m 31. So I’ve got a lot of motivation. Not really pressure, the pressure is just relative, it’s just golf. Just go out there and play golf, talk through the shots with my caddy. I’m super thrilled to have this place to play. These events, when you do well on this tour, it helps you move up the ladder and it furthers your career. And that’s why I’m here."

Two strokes back of McCumber is the tour's No. 3 money winner this year, George Cunningham, who is 15-under after a 69 Saturday.

"Obviously McCumber and Weaver, I don’t know what golf course they were playing (Saturday). But that was an impressive round. I’m really happy with my round, I thought the course played pretty tough," said Cunningham.

"It’s going to take a good round (Sunday). With the way McCumber has been playing, I can’t imagine he’s going to back off. So I’m looking to go out and have a good round. If I finish up higher than him, great, if not, he’s probably going to win again."

Five players are in a group at 14-under including second-round leader Alex Chiarella, who shot 71 Saturday.

Only four Canadians made the six-under cut. The top two heading into Sunday after Ontario's Michael Gligic and Alberta's James Love, who are both 13-under.

The biggest mover on the day was rookie Stoney Crouch of Texas. He just made the cut and was out early Saturday morning, posting a six-under 66 that turned out to be the lowest round of the day aside from McCumber and Weaver. As a result, he jumped from a tie for 48th to a tie for 12th at 12-under.

Crouch, 24, entered play this week having only made three cuts in nine events this season. He sits 121st on the money list and needs a strong finish Sunday, plus another good showing at the final event in Montreal next month if he wants to keep his tour card for next season. Only the top 60 are guaranteed a return.

"I kind of got a break in going off early this morning. So (the wind) wasn’t as bad, didn’t pick up until the back nine really. I just hit a lot of low shots into the green, hit in solid, kept it in play off the tee and hit a few putts," said Crouch.

"I’ve been on the cut line quite often. I’ve been close, but missing the cut was definitely not good," he said.

First-round leader Cody Blick, who shot a blistering 63 Thursday and followed that up with 69 Friday, struggled to a 73 Saturday to fall six shots off the pace at 11-under. Timothy Madigan, the only former Players Cup champion in the field this week, is at seven-under following a 72 Saturday. And the No. 2 player on tour this year, Zach Wright, ballooned to a 76 after starting the third round just one stroke out of the lead.

None of the eight Manitobans who were in the tournament were among the 71 players who made the cut. The total purse for the tournament is $200,000.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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