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Bling pulls ahead, holds two-shot lead at Commissionaires Ottawa Open

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DUNROBIN, Ontario—With six players tied for the lead late in the day Saturday, it was anybody’s guess who would be leading the Commissionaires Ottawa Open. Devon Bling took care of that speculation. The former UCLA Bruin birdied the 16th, 17th and 18th holes to cap off a second consecutive 66, and that moved him two shots into the lead heading into Sunday at PGA TOUR Canada’s fifth tournament of the season. Bling leads Sam Choi and Bryce Emory, thanks to those three late birdies.

“It’s a position that everyone of us in this field want to be in but it’s a very difficult position to be in, especially with the way the golf course was playing today,” said Bling. “I’m just proud of myself for trusting my game and trusting myself.

“I’m really proud of how I finished my round today,” Bling added.

He could have gone even lower. At the par-3 14th at Eagle Creek Golf Club, he missed a short birdie putt but shook off that disappointment with his late run.

“Sometimes I will let those short [misses] get to me,” he said of his par at the 14th, “but this is a tough game, and everybody is going to miss short putts here and there. I knew I had four holes to go—a lot of golf to play—so I just moved on.”

Earlier in his round, after a so-so, even-par start through six holes, Bling hit an 8-iron approach from 197 yards on the par-5 seventh hole. The ball settled 14 feet from the cup, and Bling rolled his eagle putt right in the center.

“I think I will approach it with the same gameplan as today, stay aggressive when I need to be and be smart all the time and be conservative when I need to be,” said Bling of what awaits him in the final round.

Choi has been knocking on the door all season following his decorated college career that began at the University of New Mexico and ended at Pepperdine. Choi has finished no worse than a tie for sixth this season. He’s tied for fourth twice and tied for fifth.

“It feels good to be near the top and have a chance to win a golf tournament [Sunday]. It’s an exciting moment,” he said following his third consecutive round in the 60s, a 66. “I was in contention most of the time (this season) and didn’t get the job done. But you know what to expect, what to do out there in the final round. All this experience will definitely help me.”

Choi finished his day birdie-par-birdie, just missing an eagle on No. 18, his 33-foot, double-breaking putt missing by an inch. “I read it pretty good. It had pretty good speed,” he said.

Emory saw his two-shot lead at the beginning of the day end with a two-shot deficit. He remained optimistic after his 1-under 70. “I’m still right there, so I feel like I got my off round out of the way and I’ll be ready to go [Sunday].”

Brandon Hoelzer, Stuart Macdonald and Derek Oland are all tied at 13-under, three shots behind Bling and tied for fourth.

Hoelzer shot a 63, his birdies coming at Nos. 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15 and 18, with a bogey at the 17th. His birdie at 10 was a chip in from just off the green, from 15 feet.

“I wasn’t expecting to shoot 8-under. I felt pretty comfortable with the putter, and it really got hot for me,” he explained. When he gets hot, Hoelzer added he rarely gets tense. “It’s comforting, really. Some people might I feel like might get a little tight, but for me when I’m playing good, it’s almost easier to play good. It was just fun. I was having fun out there.”

Macdonald had an interesting opening nine. He only made two pars on that set of holes, with bogeys on No. 1 and 3 and birdies on the other five holes, including three in a row—starting at No. 5.

“I settled in and started hitting a lot of quality golf shots. I had a few (birdie) looks and saw some putts go in,” he said. Macdonald also chipped in on the par-3 11th hole, got through the difficult 12th with a par and then added two birdies on 13 and 14. A bogey on 15 was his only back-nine blemish, and he finished with a flourish, hitting a 4-iron, second-shot approach on the par-5 18th from 220 yards, the ball landing 35 feet from the cup. From there, he rolled it in for the eagle and a 63.

Oland hung in all day, playing in the final grouping. His 3-under 68 came courtesy of four birdies and a bogey. Interestingly, his last birdie came at No. 9 and he made nothing but pars on the back nine.