Bo leads, but Canada’s hopes high

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Bo Van Pelt used a record-breaking back-nine 6-under 29 to hold off local hope Adam Hadwin at the Canadian Open on Saturday.

American Bo Van Pelt used a record-breaking back nine of 6-under 29 to hold off Canadian hope Adam Hadwin at the RBC Canadian Open on Saturday.

One-over heading into the turn at a sunny Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Stockholm, Van Pelt suddenly found a magic touch to post a course-record six birdies, including four in his last five holes, and shot a 7-under 65 that edged him one shot clear of Hadwin with his 5-under, 54-hole, total of 205.

It was a spectacular display by Van Pelt on a challenging Shaughnessy track that has been compared to a US Open layout due to its tight fairways and thick, bushy rough.

Van Pelt’s six birdies was one better than the five posted by Franklin Langham in 2005, the last time the Canadian Open was staged at Shaughnessy.

“You just want to have a chance on Sunday, that’s what we’re all playing for,” Van Pelt said afterwards. “At the turn I wasn’t doing so well…I was just trying to keep myself motivated and play a good nine holes to give myself a chance.

“You never know you are going to shoot 29, but that went a long way towards giving me a shot tomorrow.”

Hadwin, a 23-year-old who grew up no more than an hour away from Vancouver and plays most of his golf on the Canadian Tour, nevertheless, remains his nation’s hope of becoming the first homegrown winner of the national championship in nearly six decades as he produced another solid, no-nerves effort to fire a 68 and go to four-under for the tournament

Argentina’s Andres Romero (67) and American Kris Blanks, the first-round leader (69), were level at three under in joint third place with Australians Geoff Ogilvy (70) and Aron Price (69) and colourful John Daly (67) and fellow American Sean O’Hair (66),three off the pace.

No Canadian have won this national championship since Pat Fletcher in 1954 and former Masters champion Mike Weir, who had carried Canadian hopes of breaking the drought for more than a decade, arrived at Shaughnessy carrying a suspect elbow and with his game in trouble and had to pull out early in the second round after aggravating the injury.

Hadwin sees himself as Canada’s flag-carrying successor to Weir.

“The whole objective today was to put myself in a position to win tomorrow,” said Hadwin. “It’s been a very simple process this whole week and that’s just picking a target, picking a yardage and committing to it and that’s it.

“I’m a Canadian Tour player. I’m not a PGA Tour star. I’m just playing good golf right now.

“If I hit the ball on the fairway, put it on the green and give myself putts at it, I’ve got a chance to win the championship tomorrow.”

Hadwin began the day two shots behind overnight leader Chad Campbell, and while Campbell was sliding off the Top Ten leaderboard with a 74. the young Canadian birdied three of his opening four holes to take charge at the top and fire-up Canadian hopes.

Perhaps pressurised by his new responsibility, he then bogeyed five, eight and 11 before pulling himself together and posting two more birdies at 12 and 16 and walking up the 18th to a huge roar from the large Canadian contingent in the gallery.

“Getting off to a start like I did; birdies at the first, the third and the fourth; made it very easy,” said Hadwin. “It settled the nerves quickly knowing that I already had a three-shot cushion.

“I don’t really find it surreal because I feel like I belong here.

“I just need my opportunity to get out here…I think I kind of proved that today.”

TOP 10 LEADERBOARD

205 Bo Van Pelt 68 72 65
206 Adam Hadwin (Can) 72 66 68
207 Kris Blanks 67 71 69, Andres Romero (Arg) 72 68 67
208 John Daly 70 71 67, Aron Price (Aus) 68 71 69, Sean O’Hair 69 73 66, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 70 68 70
209 Bud Cauley 69 72 68, David Mathis 71 69 69, Ryan Moore 73 69 67

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