TORONTO – St. George’s Golf and Country Club is a straightforward course.
“If you’re driving the ball on the fairway, you can score,” Canadian star Mike Weir said Friday, after missing the cut in the Canadian Open. “If you’re hitting it where I was, you can’t. You can’t score from the rough.”
For players able to consistently hit the narrow fairways, the hilly, tree-lined course was there for the taking for the second straight day.
“Driving the fairway is a huge key on the course and I’ve done that,” said Tim Clark, tied for the lead with Dean Wilson at 10 under.
Clark shot a bogey-free 6-under 64.
“I certainly didn’t expect to be scoring like that around this course,” Clark said. “I felt like it was going to be pretty tough.”
Wilson had his second straight 65 to match Clark, the South African who won The Players Championship in May for his first PGA Tour title.
Weir, fighting tendinitis in his right arm, missed the cut for the 12th time in 20 Canadian Open starts, following his opening 72 with a 74.
“I haven’t been driving it very well, and when you play a golf course that has penal rough and you’re not driving it well, it makes it difficult,” Weir said.
Wilson closed with a 20-foot par putt on the par-4 18th after missing the fairway.
“That was a nice way to finish off the day,” said Wilson, the 2006 International champion. “You can’t ask for a better position.”
Brent Delahoussaye and Steve Wheatcroft were a stroke back. Delahoussaye had a 69 a day after matching the Canadian Open record with a 62.
“It’s tough to follow up an 8-under-par round,” Delahoussaye said. “So, I figured anything under par today would be great for me. I’m pleased with the round.”
Wheatcroft shot a 66. J.J. Henry (65), Rob Grube (66), Hunter Mahan (67) and Brock Mackenzie (68) were at 8 under, and Tim Herron (63) and defending champion Nathan Green (65) topped the group at 7 under. Kevin Sutherland had the best round of the day, matching the tournament record with a career-best 62 to reach 5 under.
Sutherland took advantage of soft, receptive greens and calm early conditions after rain delayed the start for two hours. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to use preferred lies in the fairways.
“If you drive the ball in the fairway, with the greens being soft, it’s not that hard,” Sutherland said. “If you get in the rough, this golf course can really beat you up. And I did a pretty good job of keeping the ball in the fairway.”
After opening with a 73, Sutherland was 5 under on his first four holes Friday, making an eagle on the par-5 11th. The 2002 Match Play Championship winner played the front nine – his first and last eight holes – in 5-under 29.
“It got kind of silly,” Sutherland said. “The hole just got so big for me. I was just making putts from everywhere. I made a putt on the last hole that I don’t even know how far it was. Seventy feet? I’m guessing, 60 feet.”
Adam Hadwin, a 22-year-old former Louisville player from British Columbia, shot a 66 – holing a 15-foot par putt on 18 – to top the 18 Canadians at 6 under. Stephen Ames, a naturalized Canadian citizen from Trinidad and Tobago, was 5 under after a 68.
“That’s pretty exciting for me,” said Hadwin, making his first PGA Tour start. “Coming up to that putt on 18, I looked at the scoreboard and I saw Ames at 5, and I knew I was at 6, so I wanted to make that putt to stay low Canadian. That was a huge momentum boost for me.”
Hadwin and Delahoussaye were in the same group.
“He’s a good player, and just fresh out of college, and doesn’t look like any of this is affecting him,” Delahoussaye said. “Some young guys get a little nervous out here, but he’s hitting it well. He hits it long and he can putt it really well.”
DIVOTS: Pat Fletcher, born in England, was the last Canadian winner, taking the 1954 event at Point Grey in Vancouver. Carl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914. Albert Murray, a Canadian also born in England, won in 1908 and 1913. … Because of logistical problems, the players started on Nos. 1 and 9 instead of the usual first and 10th.