WINNIPEG — American Nathan Tyler shot a 3-under par 69 on Saturday to take a two stroke lead over countryman Carlos Sainz Jr., and Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., heading into the final round of The Players Cup.
Tyler, a tour rookie, is looking to continue a successful season that has seen him make each cut on PGA Tour Canada and win three times on the All-American Gateway Tour.
"I’m ecstatic. I’m ready to just keep doing what I’m doing," said Tyler. "I’ve won a few events this year, so I’m pretty comfortable around the lead."
Tyler built a two-shot lead with a bogey-free scorecard that saw him reach 15-under par with three birdies on the front nine and nine pars on the back. Sainz Jr., briefly reached 16-under par, but a bogey on the 11th and a double bogey on the 16th dropped him two back of the lead heading into Sunday.
"I hit the ball absolutely unbelievable today," said Tyler. "I got nothing out of it because of some pretty gusty winds. I just hope to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully get a little closer for tomorrow."
Hughes posted three birdies and a bogey for a 2-under 70 and put himself in Sunday’s final group. The Players Cup is Hughes’ first made cut in four events on PGA Tour Canada this season.
"Today I felt some of the nerves I knew I would feel," said the 22-year old, who has an exemption into next week’s RBC Canadian Open on the PGA Tour. "Overall I was pretty pleased with the way I regrouped for the back nine and kept myself in it."
Chile’s Hugo Leon, who fired a 5-under par 67 to reach a 12-under total, was a shot behind Hughes and Sainz, Jr. Regina’s Kent Eger and American J.J. Spaun were tied for fifth at 10-under par.
The top three players on the Order of Merit after Sunday will gain entry into the RBC Canadian Open. Tyler’s projected earnings would push him inside the top three on the Order of Merit.