By Mike Meiler
Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — There's been a Canadian invasion this week at Niagara Falls Country Club.
Not that there's an inordinate number of Canadians in the field of 84 — there's only six. It's the success they're having.
Taylor Pendrith shot a tournament-low 63 on Friday, giving him a three-day total of 197 (13-under) and sending him from fourth to first on the leaderboard. Justin Shin continued his solid play, shooting a 67 to total 198, good for second.
Today, the two — teammates on the Canadian National Team — compete for Canada's first Porter Cup victory in at least 20 years.
"It's nice to see all of the guys playing pretty good," said Pendrith, who added that Chris Hemmerich (1-under) and Garrett Rank (10-over) also play on the national team. "It's nice to see that golf in Canada is improving."
Pendrith improved for the third straight round after carding a 68 on Wednesday and a 66 on Thursday. And unlike most players, he scored well on the front nine, hitting three birdies, including one on the par-4 fifth that's played toughest this tournament.
He added four birdies on the back nine and didn't drop a shot on the day. His final putt — a curving attempt on 18 — dropped for birdie, propelling him above Shin for the lead.
"I played pretty solid today," said the Richmond Hill, Ont. native. "I made a lot of putts, that was the key. I hit a couple bad shots but got a little lucky and was in some decent spots after my bad shots."
Shin hit five birdies on the day but dropped two bogeys. He hit his third birdie of the tournament on No. 10, a hole he said has been a momentum builder.
"I played even par on the front and got some momentum going into No. 10," he said with a smile. "It's been my best hole so far. Maybe they'll put Justin Shin on the flag, huh?"
Shin, from Hamilton, Ont., led most of the day at 13-under, but dropped a shot on 17 that opened the door for Pendrith.
"I got some help with the trees on 17," he said. "I hit a bad first shot and ended with a good bogey there. I was happy with that."
Both Shin and Pendrith said playing together in the final pairing could be advantageous. The two also share a home course at the Summit Golf and Country Club in Richmond Hill, Ont., and they said playing together could help their games.
"I'm very excited for tomorrow," Shin said. "We're going to have fun.
"He's a real nice guy. ... We play a lot together, so it will feel like we're just practicing."
Joining the duo in the final pairing will be Day Two leader Tyler Dunlap.
The Trophy Club, Texas product shot an even-par 70, good for a three-day total of 200.
He had an up-and-down round, bogeying three times but saving himself with a 55-yard eagle on No. 11.
The trio will tee off at noon today.Follow Gazette sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on the local sports scene.