Two Canadians Within Striking Distance Through 3 Rounds
RBC Canadian OpenGreg Bowman
Saturday was the first of two championship rounds at the RBC Canadian Open from Ancaster, Ontario, with stars and Canadians alike occupying the top spots on the leaderboard coming into play.
There were four Canadians in the top 10 after the cut, with Nick Taylor, Mackenzie Hughes, Ben Silverman and Adam Hadwin all enjoying later tee off times as a result of strong second-round performances.
Taylor went on a tear in the second round, shooting a 5-under 65 with a bogey, four birdies and an eagle. In the third round, he started off with a bogey on hole 1, but recovered with a birdie on hole 3 shortly after. Taylor finished at 8-under though, shooting a third round 3-over 73.
Adam Hadwin was looking to continue his strong play, trying to build off a second round that saw him sink two eagles. He had a difficult start, bogeying the second hole but got it back with a birdie on hole 5. The Canuck finally got below par on the 13th hole, sinking a nearly 50-foot putt for a birdie.
“It’s only the 2nd hole,” commented Hadwin on his bogey on 2, with his drive ending up in the gallery, “There are still 16 holes to go. I’ve played good golf all week. Sometimes getting a bogey like that out of the way early settles you in a little bit and makes you refocus a little more.” Hadwin had the top score among Canadians through three rounds at 12-under par, one shot back of the lead.
Mackenzie Hughes was looking to build off his solid performances in the opening two rounds, where he was sitting tied for seventh at 8-under. Hughes struggled a bit, picking up a couple of bogeys, but balanced them out nicely with some key birdies shortly after, including back-to-back at holes 4 and 5.
“Confidence is still high…I’m going to go to the putting green and try and sort some things out. I don’t think I’ve been putting terribly…One time it’s speed, one time it’s a misread so I’m just a tick off but trying to get it sorted out and shoot a low one tomorrow,” said Hughes, who finished the day in eighth at 8-under with a 69 in the third round.
Ben Silverman had one of the top performances of the second round, shooting a 9-under 61. His momentum tapered off in the third round though, playing alongside Graeme McDowell. The Thornhill, Ontario native shot a 2-over 72 in the third round, giving him a three-day total of 6-under.
In his first Canadian Open, Rory McIlroy has been pleased with his play so far, saying that he played a really good 16 holes that were bookended by bogeys in round 2. The Northern Irishman immediately got off to a better start in the third round, with his initial drive of the day soaring 371 yards, landing just in front of the green, which led to a birdie. He continued the momentum, playing consistently and gathering some more birdies until he was in contention for a share of the lead midway through his day.
“It was nice to get off to a good start,” said McIlroy on his opening hole, “It was nice to birdie the first hole and get the shot back I lost on 18 last night. So I think the birdie on 1 definitely set the tone for the rest of the day.” McIlroy finished with a share of the lead shooting a field-best 6-under 64 to finish with 13-under after 54 holes.
Brandt Snedeker shot a course record 60 on Friday but followed it with a much tamer 1-under 69 in the third round. He is still in contention, tied for fourth at 12-under. Henrik Stenson also had a modest day despite being atop the leaderboard through two rounds, shooting a 2-under 68 in the third round to put him at 10-under heading into Sunday.
After a stellar opening round, Shane Lowry had some struggles in the second round of competition, getting a couple of bogeys and even a double bogey, but managed to shoot 2-under at the end of the day. Whatever corrections were made certainly worked on Saturday, with Lowry dropping four birdies in the front nine, three of which were consecutively. Lowry finished one stroke back of the lead at 12-under, shooting a third round 4-under 66.
Webb Simpson has been one of the best golfers through the first three rounds, not bogeying a single time. Consistency has been Simpson’s game in the Canadian Open, shooting a 3-under 67, earning him a share of the lead at 13-under heading into the final round.
“[My consistency] has been good. Each round has had a little different look to it for me. Today I actually liked the way I hit it better than the first two days, even though my score’s worse,” said Simpson, looking for his sixth career PGA Tour win.
Matt Kuchar rounded out the trio who shared the lead at 13-under through 54 holes, finishing Saturday with a 1-under 69 – his worst round of the tournament so far. “It’s funny ‘cause I felt like I struck the ball well but I was told I only hit eight greens which is an awfully low number of greens in regulation. But I think that’s the difficulty of this course. Learning the firmness of the greens and trying to adapt and tomorrow I’d like to have a lot more than eight birdie opportunities,” said Kuchar, who is looking for his third win of the season after going through a four-year winless drought.
The final round of the Canadian Open will be played on Sunday, with no discernable winner so far. The course has held up great by accounts of most players, and the weather has been phenomenal. The winner of the 2019 Canadian Open could represent one of many nations in contention, but the two Canadians within striking distance are hoping that they will be able to do something that hasn’t been done in over 50 years.