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Victoria's Cory Renfrew in lead after Round 3 at Times Colonist Island Savings Open

Last Victoria player to win the Open was Paul Devenport in 2001
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Cory Renfrew hits from the 10th tee during the Times Colonist Island Savings Open at Uplands Golf Club on Saturday. Renfrew is the leader after three rounds. The final round is on Sunday.

With a large gallery watching his every move, Cory Renfrew from Victoria didn’t disappoint during Saturday’s third round of the Times Colonist Island Savings Open at Uplands Golf Club.

The 26-year-old Renfrew navigated the gusting winds to post a 4-under 66 and take a three-shot lead into Sunday's final round.

Renfrew has got better with each round with scores of 68, 67 and 66 for a 201 total.

Tied in second place at 204 are Jeff Rangel from Martinez, California, Lucas Lee from Brazil and Oshawa, Ont.'s Derek Gillespie.

“Since January, I have been basically playing non-stop tournament golf in the Phoenix area,’’ said Renfrew. “That has probably helped me in this tournament. I had a quick putting tip before my round today and that was good. I was starting my putts more on line and the misses were a lot closer.’’

The last Victoria player to win the Open was Paul Devenport in 2001 at Gorge Vale Golf Club.

“I’m sure that I will be a little nervous before the final round but I wouldn’t want it any other way,’’ said Renfrew. “This is why we play golf. I like having people watch me play golf, especially when they are cheering for me.

“I won’t try to change anything for the final round. I’ll try to hit the fairways and get the ball close to the hole to give me some birdie putts. With the wind today, it was tough to judge some shots. I just tried to keep them below the wind with some three-quarter shots.’’

Renfrew is playing in his first Canadian Tour event after earning a spot from qualifying school in May.

“With today’s conditions, I’m happy with the way I hung in there,’’ said Gillespie, the second-round leader. “The blowing wind made it tough to get the ball close to the pins. I had to do a lot of guessing on the course. The guys that posted those low scores must have made a lot of putts and even those were tough.

“I’m only three shots back and there is a lot of golf to play.’’

In the early going Saturday, Renfrew and Andrew Roque from Monterey Park, California were tied or No. 1 or No. 2 on the leaderboard.

Roque was 3-under on the front nine before struggling during his last nine holes, going 4-over.

“I really didn’t play that badly,’’ said Roque, who was the first-round leader after a 64. “On the back nine, I misjudged the wind with some of my shots and that got me into trouble. Without this wind, I feel that I could shoot 60 on this course.’’

Gordy Scutt from Olympic View started the third round only two shots behind Gillespie but he had a 3-over 73. He is now tied for 16th place, seven shots behind Renfrew.

“I just couldn’t get anything to fall for me today,’’ said Scutt. “It is awesome to see Cory [Renfrew] leading the way into the final round.’’

BUNKER SHOTS: Sunday's first tee time is 8:03 a.m. while the leaders — Renfrew and Rangel — will leave at 1 p.m. . . . The other Islanders still in the mix are Stu Anderson from Sooke and Parker Lilly from Uplands (tied for 47th), Mitch Evanecz (tied for 60th) and Darren Griff from Nanaimo (66th) . . .The winning share of the $150,000 purse is $24,000.

rrauch@timescolonist.com

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LEADERBOARD

Times Colonist Island Savings Open

Top finishers on Saturday after Round 3 at the par-70 Uplands Golf Club.

Cory Renfrew -9 (68, 67, 66)

Jeff Rangel -6 (70, 68, 66)

Lucas Lee -6 (65, 69, 70)

Derek Gillespie -6 (67, 66, 71)

Andrew Roque -5 (64, 70, 71)

Matt Jager -5 (72, 69, 65)

Chris Cunningham -4 (69, 70, 67)

Jamie Gomez -4 (69, 70, 67)

Jeff Burton -4 (67, 71, 68)

Brad Tilley -4 (68, 69, 69)

Matt Marshall -4 (67, 69, 70)

Nick Taylor -4 (67, 70, 69)

Paul Peterson -4 (67, 68, 71)

Final round on Sunday at Uplands.

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Derek Gillespie of Oshawa, Ont., is enjoying every minute at the Uplands Golf Club.

Gillespie is the halfway leader at the Canadian Tour's Times Colonist Island Savings Open after Friday's 4-under 66. His 36-hole total is 133, one shot ahead of first-round leader Andrew Roque from Monterey Park, California, and Lucas Lee of Brazil.

Cory Renfrew from Cordova Bay fired a 3-under 67, while Gordy Scutt from Olympic View had a 68. They are only two shots behind the leader, along with Paul Peterson from Salem, Oregon.

"I was striking the ball really well today,'' said Gillespie, who has a medical exemption on the Canadian Tour this year after breaking several bones, including his right femur, last year in a car accident in Arizona.

"I left myself some great looks for birdies all day. I was hitting a lot of fairways and I think that I only missed two greens all day.''

Gillespie collected four birdies and the rest were pars.

"I am playing well right now and I am going to enjoy being at the top or near the top of the leader board.''

After a sensational 64 to open the tournament Thursday, Roque was all over the map on Friday. He had five bogies, three birdies and an eagle to card an even-par 70.

"I didn't play very good today,'' said Roque. "I think that I had four, three putts. I just couldn't figure out the right speeds to make the putts. My ball striking wasn't very good today but I'm excited about playing on the weekend.''

The 26-year-old Renfrew had one of the largest and most vocal galleries following him.

"I made a lot of good shots today and even when I didn't, the fans were cheering me on,'' said Renfrew. "It was pretty easy for me to stay positive for the entire round.

"I had a slow start to the tournament [2-over after first five holes] but since then I have been 7-under. I was probably a little nervous at the beginning.

"On the weekend, I just want to stay composed and try to chase down the leaders. I had some chances to be better today and hopefully that will happen for me on the weekend.''

Scutt, who received a sponsor's exemption to play at Uplands, birdied his final hole for his 68.

"I hit my irons really well today and that gave a lot of chances for birdies,'' said Scutt. "I'll try to take the same approach into the weekend.''

There are six Canadians in the top 11 as Nick Taylor from Abbotsford, Kent Fukushima of Grande Prairie and Oliver Tubb from Vancouver are all tied for eighth with 137 totals.

"I had 16 pars today and I didn't hit that many fairways,'' said Taylor. "I have to be better on the weekend for a shot at more birdies.''

BUNKER SHOTS: A total of 68 players made the cut at 142 (2-over par). The other Islanders playing on the weekend are Parker Lilly from Uplands (two-round total of 139), Darren Griff from Nanaimo (140), Stu Anderson from Sooke (141), Mitch Evanecz from Victoria and Edd Boudreau from Gorge Vale (both 142).

. . . The first tee off time is 8: 03 a.m., while the leaders - Gillespie and Roque - go at 1 p.m. Lee and Renfrew have a 12: 51 p.m. tee time.

LEADERBOARD

Top finishers after Round 2 at the par-70 Uplands Golf Club. Canadians in bold.

Derek Gillespie -7 (67, 66)

Andrew Roque -6 (64, 70)

Lucas Lee -6 (65, 69)

Cory Renfrew -5 (68, 67)

Paul Peterson -5 (67, 68)

Gordy Scutt -5 (67, 68)

Matt Marshall -4 (67, 69)

Nick Taylor -3 (67, 70)

Kent Fukushima -3 (70, 67)

Brad Tilley -3 (68, 69)

rrauch@timescolonist.