Koppenberg, DuVall Bend But Don’t Break At B.C. Amateur Championship

Victoria's Jake DuVall (L) And Bellingham, Wa.'s Jacob Koppenberg (R) Will Play Friday's Final Round With 13-Year-Old Jeevan Sihota, Also From Victoria - Image Credit Bryan Outram/British Columbia Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

For a while Thursday, it looked like it was going to be a two-man race to finish at the B.C. Amateur Championship. Maybe it still will be, but when Jacob Koppenberg and Jake DuVall stumbled slightly on the back nine at Morgan Creek Golf Course in Thursday’s third round, it brought a handful of other players back into the tournament.

Despite their back-nine adventures, Koppenberg and DuVall somehow both managed to shoot one-under 71s on Thursday, so nothing really changed. Koppenberg, a 30-year-old from Bellingham, still has the one-shot lead he had on DuVall when the day began. Koppenberg sits at 10-under through 54 holes, while Duvall, a 23-year-old from Victoria, is nine-under.

But the pack behind them crept closer, led by impressive 13-year-old Jeevan Sihota of Victoria, who sits at seven-under. Richmond’s Chris Crisologo and Kevin Carrigan of Victoria moved to six-under after both shot three-under 69s.

It should be an interesting final round. DuVall finished his round by bogeying three of his final four holes. He was most upset with his bogey at the par 5 17th, a hole that has yielded bushels of birdies and a handful of eagles this week. DuVall boomed a drive on 17 and only had an 8-iron into the green. But the wind was swirling and he pulled his approach shot slightly into the water hazard that fronts the green.

He made bogey, while Koppenberg birdied to pull even. Duvall’s bogey on 18 allowed Koppenberg to regain the lead. “The wind got up the last few holes and I hit a couple of loose shots and if you are out of position you can make  bogeys pretty fast out here,” said DuVall, who recently finished his collegiate golf career at Southwest Oklahoma State University. “I made a pretty bad bogey on 17. It’s not a hole you want to make a bogey on. But overall, one-under for the day, I can’t really be too upset because I am still in a good position.”

Koppenberg feels much the same way. He made back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes and had to chip in for par on 16 to avoid three in a row. He righted the ship with a birdie on 17. “It was was one of those rounds that you usually have in a four-day tournament where things don’t go right,” he said. “It was going okay the front nine, but it still wasn’t comfortable for me. I was kind of struggling. I birdied both the par 5s, but I was just kind of getting by. It caught up to me on the back side.”

image credit bryan outram/British Columbia Golf

Victoria's 13-Year Old Jeevan Sihota, Seen Here Chipping Onto The 18th Green At Morgan Creek With His Caddy, Father Jaz, Looking On Will Play In The Final Group On Friday

DuVall and Koppenberg will play Friday’s final round with Sihota, who also shot a one-under 71 on Thursday. “I hear he's going into the eighth grade,” Koppenberg said with a laugh. “I don’t know what we are going to talk about tomorrow because it has been a long time since I was in the eighth grade. I can’t remember what I was shooting when I was his age. Not what he's shooting, that’s for sure.”

Sihota wasn’t particularly pleased with his round Thursday and felt like he missed cashing in on some good birdie opportunities. After making seven birdies in Wednesday’s second round, he only managed three on Thursday. He bogeyed the 18th hole. “It was a little bit of a disappointing finish,” he said. “Hopefully things go really well tomorrow and somehow I can get it done.”

Crisologo and Carrigan are now lurking four shots back and well within striking distance of the lead. Crisologo, who is heading into his senior year at Simon Fraser University, is having a solid summer. He has qualified to play in next month’s U.S. Amateur Championship.

Crisologo played his final three holes in three-under, thanks in large part to an eagle on the par 5 17th. “That finish kind of helped out,” Crisologo said. “I was hitting it a little bit better today. I had a stretch of holes where I was hitting it close, so that was a positive. You just want to put yourself in position and give yourself a chance and see where it goes from there. Obviously these guys are playing great golf, so hopefully we can try and catch them tomorrow.”

Carrigan, 31, won last year’s B.C. Mid-Amateur Championship and has had some close calls in past B.C. Amateurs. “I like to think there is a six-, seven- or eight-under par out there,” Carrigan said. “Maybe I can find it.”

A sub-plot to Friday’s final round will be the race for the three-man Willingdon Cup team. The top three British Columbians will represent B.C. in the Willingdon Cup competition at next month’s Canadian Amateur Championship in Toronto. “I haven’t been on a Willingdon Cup team yet,” Crisologo said. “Obviously, playing in this tournament everyone wants to finish in the top three and make that team. That is one of the goals.”

Click HERE for complete scoring

CHIP SHOTS: Victoria’s Keaton Gudz, the 2014 B.C. Junior champion, had the day’s low round, a four-under 68 that left him alone in sixth place at five-under par. . .Thirteen-time winner Doug Roxburgh of Vancouver, who is playing in his 51st B.C. Amateur, shot a six-over 78 Thursday and is tied for 38th place at seven-over par.