The 2001 Canadian Rookie of the Year has a 54-hole total of 14-under 199, four shots better than Chris Locker of Columbia, SC. David Faught of South Africa is at 9-under 204, while David Hearn (Brantford, ON), David McKenzie (Australia) and U.S. amateur runner-up Robert Hamilton (Carmichael, CA) are six shots back.
Locker and Mario Tiziani equalled the Mandarin G&CC course record 64 Saturday to put themselves in position for a run at Gillespie Sunday.
For Gillespie, Sunday could be a rewarding day in more ways than one. Should he notch his second win of the year, the 24-year-old would surpass Jeff Quinney and finish the season second on the Tours Order of Merit, meaning he and Hank Kuehne would advance to the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying later this fall. But if Gillespie was feeling the pressure Saturday, he didnt show it, carding a 4-under 31 on his front nine. After a three-putt bogey on the par-4 17th, Gillespie bounced back by holing a 25-foot eagle putt from the fringe on the final hole.
I was pretty disappointed with that bogey on 17, but I was glad I ended the way I did, said Gillespie, who has earned $59,469 so far this year. I should be able to carry that into tomorrow. That wind was tough today, so Ive got to be pleased with my round.
With his hometown just a few kilometres east of The Mandarin, Gillespie will likely have a large contingent of family and friends in his gallery Sunday. And with a berth in both the Air Canada Championship and Bell Canadian Open already assured, he knows there is still one piece of unfinished business left before he can celebrate. But talking to Gillespie, you wouldnt know there is anything at stake Sunday.
Im glad for the support Ive been getting here, but to be honest, I dont really even know they are there when I am playing. I am just trying to stay focused on what it is I need to do. You cant worry about all that other stuff or you are going to get lapped out here.
Kuehne, who clinched the Order of Merit title Friday when Quinney missed the cut, pulled out of the event Saturday after suffering a wrist injury. Kuehne, who has had tendonitis problems in the past, called it quits on the 17th tee. He and wife Nicole will fly home Sunday morning to have tests done.
Ive had problems with this before, so I dont want to risk injuring it more, said the 1998 U.S. amateur champion. I have nothing to lose this week, so it is better to be safe than sorry. I really wanted to go out strong here, but I just cant take that chance right now.